October 5, 1962
On this day, the Administrator of Western Nigeria, Dr. M.A. Majekodunmi announced bold and dramatic reforms of the Customary Courts in Western Nigeria. Some of the major reforms were:
- The transfer of the present functions of the Minister of Justice for Commissioner for Justice under the law of the Chief Justice.
- Vesting in the Chief Justice the power to direct the appointment of a customary court to be a court of appeal for all or any of the customary courts within the area of its jurisdiction and to make rules of Court.
- The transfer of the present functions of the Local Government Service Board and of certain functions of the Local Government councils in relation to the appointment of members, assessors and staff under the law to the Judicial Service Commission. Provision is made for assessors not exceeding two in number to be selected to sit with a court from a panel approved by Judicial Service Commission.
- Reduction in grades of courts to three only, namely “A”, “B” and “C” and drastic reduction of their criminal jurisdiction. Grades “A” and “B” will not exercise original criminal jurisdiction but will act as courts of appeal from Grade “C” customary courts. Grade “C” customary courts are given very limited criminal jurisdiction and will only be allowed to deal with offences against rules and by-laws made by council, and simple cases of stealing and assaults. The maximum fine and the maximum term of imprisonment which a customary court will be able to impose are 25 pounds and three months respectively.
- Vesting in the Chief Justice or a Judge of the High Court power to transfer cases from any grade of customary court to any other grade of customary court, or to a magistrate’s court, or to the High court.