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 BLR  Vol.7 No.4 , December 2016
Customary Law, Social Development and Administration of Justice in Nigeria
Abstract: Customary law is the law that captures the norms, traditions and rules of behaviour of the people. It is the law propelled by the worldview, beliefs, philosophies and value system of the people. In traditional societies, customary laws were largely unchallenged save by compelling innovations that re-channeled aspects of the practices of the people and subsequently altered its traditions. Since the introduction of English law in the administration of justice in Nigeria about a century ago, customary law has been fighting for breath and a large chunk of it has not survived the conflict that was the necessary outcome of the contact. This paper has discussed the nature of justice that the hybrid legal system has produced. It has answered the question whether the judicial system that yields legal justice has produced social justice as well. It has also made projections into the future of customary law and examined the imperatives of a smoother marriage of convenience between the borrowed English legal system and native law and custom so as to achieve justice that is real and answers to the needs of the society. The topic is discussed under six sub-heads, namely: Introduction; conceptual analysis; application of customary law in Nigeria; customary law and justice; customary law and arbitration; and conclusion. Under conceptual analysis, the meaning, sources and progressive development of customary law have been examined including their relationship with the English common law. On the application of customary law, the standard requirements for the validity and enforcement of the law have been discussed critically. The capacity of customary law to produce both legal and social justice has been evaluated under the sub-head of customary law and justice while the content, context and legal status of customary arbitration and customary awards have been treated under customary law and arbitration. The co-relation between customary law and social development was examined and practical policy formulations suggested for enhancing the role of customary law in social development. The conclusion summarized salient points raised and evaluated in the work and projected the capacity of customary law to play a more pro-active role in the administration of justice in Nigeria when and after obvious negative tendencies by the operators have been eliminated or at least minimized.
Cite this paper: Nwocha, M. (2016) Customary Law, Social Development and Administration of Justice in Nigeria. Beijing Law Review, 7, 430-442. doi: 10.4236/blr.2016.74034.
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