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The main aim of this thesis is to analyze the roles of the courts and tribunals operating in Nigeria. Globally in all jurisdictions, the courts of law are recognized as bodies vested with the authority of interpreting the law and applying the law to disputes between various parties. The primary and near exclusive duty of adjudication is mostly associated with the courts of law usually saddled with the responsibility of adjudicating on disputes between parties. However, the growth of modern day government has necessitated the empowering of various administrative agencies and tribunals outside of the law courts with the exercise of powers which are judicial or quasi-judicial nature. These bodies dispense justice though they are most often majorly constituted of persons who have no legal training or background though expected to be knowledgeable in they are over which it was established. Administrative adjudication is the process by which an administrative agency issues an order, such order being affirmative, negative, injunctive or declaratory in form. Most formal proceedings before an administrative agency follow the process of either rule making or adjudication. Rule making formulates policy by setting rules for the future conduct of persons governed by that agency. Adjudication applies the agency’s policy to the past actions of a particular party, and it results in an order for or against that party. It is a dispute resolution aspect of administrative action. It is pertinent to note that adjudication being the major function of the judicial arm, under the scope of this topic is being the major function of the judicial arm, under the  scope of this topic is being carried out by bodies other than the court due to delay of court processes  during adjudication. Thus, over the years, there has been an evolution of administrative adjudication and, as such it has become expedient for the functioning of modern government. The purpose of writing on this topic is to examine the doctrine of administrative adjudication. Its focus shall be on its importance and development in a legal system with particular reference to Nigeria at large. The control of administrative adjudication shall also be expounded in the course of writing.







1.1     Background of the Study

          The administration in the discharge of its function of executing and implementing laws will usually be involved in processes of exercising judicial or quasi judicial powers for the findings of facts, application of law to facts, and the determination of the rights and obligation of persons. These processes may take the form of administrative disciplinary procedure; panel of inquiry, administrative tribunal, statutory tribunal, special tribunal, inferior court, domestic or autonomic bodies, and such other bodies. These processes are known as administrative adjudication, administrative justice, or administrative or judicial tribunals, or simply as tribunals.

          Axiomatically, administrative adjudication is an art of making an official decision about who is right in a disagreement between two groups or organization. It is the agency process for making or issuing an order which resolves particular rights or duties.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

          From the constitutional standpoint, administrative adjudication may appear to be in conflict with the doctrine of separation of powers that postulates that judicial powers are to be vested in the courts of law, as provided for in section 6(1) and (2) of the 1999 constitution (as amended)[1]. However, the conflict is more apparent than real, as administrative adjudication does not conflict with the constitutional concept of separation of powers, due to the resting of judicial power in the courts to exercise supervisory jurisdiction over the administration whenever it exercises quasi-judicial powers.

Moreover the principle of judicial review postulates that, the judicial powers of the court are exercisable over all executive/administrative and legislative powers, including any form of administrative adjudication except where the constitution provides otherwise. It also imposes on the administration compliance with standardized “procedural fairness” through the application of the principle of fair hearing or the common law doctrine of natural justice that comprises two maxims: nemo judex incausa sua, and audi alterem patem, and these apply to all courts administrative adjudication bodies. This research work shall be based on this scenario.

1.3     Purpose of the Study

          This research is aimed at accomplishing the under listed objectives; namely:

a.     To asses the roles of the courts and tribunals in Nigeria

b.     To analyze, identify and address the constitutional control of administrative adjudication in Nigeria.

c.      To ascertain and appraise the effectiveness or efficiency of Nigerian government towards the application of the doctrine of administrative adjudication.


1.4     Scope of the Study

          The entire scope of this research shall basically focus on the roles of the courts and tribunals in Nigeria. Reference, however, may be made to other countries and organizations if and when the need arises. This is because of the universal ambiguous and enormous nature of the concept of administrative adjudication.

1.5     Significance of the Study

          This research work is invariably significant owing to the fact that the doctrine of administrative adjudication will always remain a subject of inanity as it has been from the inception of its simple but ambiguous nature.

          Irrespective of the diverse contradictory comments or meanings given to the doctrine, administrative adjudication remains a concept in the Nigerian constitution. Furthermore, its absolute uniqueness reveals an obvious explanation to anyone who studies the concept. This doctrine indeed is predominant and a required criteria in the dispensation of justice as well as governmental responsibilities.

          However, this research is accurate and valuable due to the fact that total adherence and compliances with the doctrine of administrative adjudication happens to be one of the major tasks in the Nigerian government.

          In view of the outcome of this research, certain recommendations are proffered in order to make the doctrine or administrate adjudication more a reality in Nigeria. However, administrative adjudication as one concept that is being put in place by enlightened societies for the purpose of peaceful co-existence and the conduciveness of every citizen, irrespective of his or her social, religious, military or political standing. It is only when administrative adjudication becomes a reality that individual citizens would enjoy more personal liberty and equal treatment of the law.

1.6     Methodology and Organization of the Study

          This research shall rely predominantly on secondary source. It shall be library-based research which shall draw secondary data from textbooks, law journals, law reports, newspapers, constitution and the internet.

1.7     Literature Review

1.7.1  Preamble

          Administrative adjudication is a term given to the administrative exercise of judicial functions. It is a term given tot the various ways of deciding disputes outside the ordinary courts. Administrative adjudication is constitutional, though it is a negation of the principle of separation of powers.

          Section 6 of the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, 1999, provides that the judicial powers of the country shall be vested in the courts established by the constitution and under the laws of the National and State Assemblies.

Section 36(1) of the same constitution provides that:

“in the determination of his civil rights…” including any question or determination by or against any government or authority…”

          It appears therefore, that the adjudicatory powers in the country are primarily vested in the regular courts. However, in view of the complexity of modern administration, it has become inevitable that a great deal of adjudicatory powers are exercised by various administrative bodies or tribunals which perform judicial and quasi-judicial functions[2]

Administrative tribunals have become a conspicuous feature of governance, Indeed, as observed by Prof. Ben Mwabueze[3].

“it is often necessary under modern practice of government to enable administrative authorities to decide matters of a judicial or quasi-judicial nature”.

          According to Jacob Abiodun Dada, administrative adjudication has over the years evolved as an important and inevitable mechanism to drive their wheel of modern government. There are now a good number of administrative tribunals, boards and other bodies which are vested with comparable powers with the courts[4]. They exercise judicial, quasi-judicial or adjudicatory functions conferred on them by statutes. He believes that administrative adjudication is not peculiar to Nigeria. Rather, it has global appeal. It is significant, however, to state that although administrative adjudication involves exercise of judicial power by the administrative branch, courts are in many respects different from administrative bodies exercising judicial power. Jacob Dada notified that the terms “Administrative jurisdiction” and “administrative justice” are also often used to describe administrative adjudication[5].

          Ese Malemi stresses on the need for administrative adjudication[6] Just as the complexity of modern government has made it necessary to delegate power to he executive or administration to make delegated legislation. So also the administration ahs had to take on some of the traditional judicial functions of the court and sit as tribunals, panels, or commission and boards on enquiry and so forth and adjudicate on any matter, look into matters of administrative law, or perform such other functions as may be assigned to them.

          Administrative adjudication has developed all over the world and there exists all kinds of administrative adjudication in different countries. Such adjudicatory bodies may therefore be set up by government under statute as the need arises and be charged with the duty to exercise

1.     Judicial

2.     Quasi-judicial and or

3.     Other functions as may be conferred on them by statute or by the terms of reference given by the authority setting it up.

Many administration bodies have a standing administrative adjudicatory body, or do set up an administrative adjudicatory body, from time to time, to meet for instance their in-house need for regulation, standard and discipline and so forth as the case may be. Included in this category are chartered professional bodies which have been established to project such professions, train personnel and also to maintain standard amongst their membership.

Giving evidence on the need for tribunals of inquiry in modern governance before the UK Royal Commission on the Working of Tribunals of Inquiry 1966, LORD M. L. HEYWOOD explained that one of the rationale for setting up these bodies are:

“to satisfy the public that a proper investigation has been made into the matter about which there is great public disquiet”.[7]

Apart from administrative tribunals or similar bodies set up under statutes, the administrative machinery all over the world, in its day to day functions and performance of their duties do adjudicate or make one type of determination or decision, to act one way or the other, which determination or decision may affects the rights of interest of concerned individuals or groups. Some of these decisions may be purely

1.     Administrative,[8] or

2.     Discretionary [9]

For which affected parties may, or may not readily have a remedy. In actual fact, administration exercises a wide range of discretionary powers and as is frequently experienced, the concerned individual, or group is not sufficiently protected from maladministration, arbitrariness, omission, or misconduct that have often occurred in the exercise of administrative powers.

1.7.2  What is so problematic about administrative adjudication?

According to Hamburger, agencies use it to bind subjects, both in civil and in criminal cases. The adjudicators can be agency heads, in which case political appointees are judging, which sacrifices a core constitutional concept of an independent judiciary. Agency heads and other high-level adjudicators can hear appeals of decisions in cases where they initiated the investigation or prosecution. The adjudicators can also be administrative law judges who do have tenure and salary protections; however, administrative law judges are not really dependent because they are bound by the administrative regulations of their superiors.

          The adjudicators can be low-level agency staff engaged in “information adjudication”. This case, Hamburger argues, is seen worse because these administrators “have even less of judicial office, and less protection in it, than administrative law judges”. In other words, they make important decisions without any of the qualifications or protections that judges have.

“All in all’, Hamburger concludes, “even the least biased administrative adjustor’s act in ways and under pressures that would not be tolerated in real judges”. Judicial power is usually delegated to administrative agencies/tribunals with the purpose to provide cheap accessible, informal, speedy and specialized justice, concerning the paramount advantages of administrative adjudication over adjudication by ordinary courts, Philips, Jackson ad Leopold:

“…they (administrative tribunals) could offer speeder, cheaper and more accessible justice, essential for the administration of welfare schemes involving large number of small claims…the process of courts of law is elaborate slow an costly… it  (court process) is to provide the highest standard of justice generally speaking, the public wants the best possible article and is prepared to pay for it… in administering social justice…the objective is not the best article that is consistent with the efficient administration. Disputes must be disposed of quickly and cheaply for the benefit of the public purse as well as for that of the claimant”.





1.8     Definition of Terms

1999 Constitution: This refers to the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (with amendment 2011).

Administrative Procedure: Administrative procedure is the procedure or process followed by administrative bodies, departments, tribunals and administrative authorities in carrying out their duties, deciding claims or disputes, making decisions or dealing with problems confronting the public.

Administrative Tribunal: This refers to a body outside o the hierarchy of regular courts. They are usually established under specific legislations and charged with investigation, hearing or decision of matters in disputes.

Judicial Power: This is the power conferred upon the judiciary by the 1999 constitution to perform judicial functions.

The Court: |The court is globally recognized as a temple of justice. It is seen as an institution where issues arising between/among two or more people are resolved peacefully and lawfully.

[1]  1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.    

[2]       B. O ihiyomade & B.  Eka Cases  and Materials in Administrative laws in Nigeria (Ife, Obafemi Awolowo University  Press 1980) p. 129

[3]        Constitutional laws of the Nigerian Republic (London, Butterwooth)

[5] Iluyomade & eka, op. cit at 188[5]

[6] Jacobs A Dada; Administrative law in Nigeria, Unical Press, 2011 @ 80-8

[7]       Cmnd 3121. P. 154. Doma v Ogiri (1998) 3 NWLR Pt. 541. P. 264 CA

[8]       Arzika v governor, Northern Region (1961) All NLR 374. Head, FMG v Mil Gov. Mid West State, Exp. Obinyan     (1973) All NLR 930.

[9]       Merchants bank Ltd. V Federal Minister of Finance (1961)1 All NLR 598

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