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The 8 Hierarchy of Courts in Nigeria Explained: Functions & Jurisdiction



There are 8 hierarchy courts in Nigeria with different functions. These courts are stratified i.e. they exist in layers of superiority. You can not appeal a case dealt with at the supreme court at the appeal court because the supreme court is superior to the appeal court but you can appeal the judgement made at the appeal court at the supreme court because the appeal court is below the supreme court which is the highest court in Nigeria.

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The Nigerian judiciary is the last hope of Nigerians to seek justice. The 8 types of courts in Nigeria are dully explained in this write-up and they form the judicial arm of government. The executive and legislative arm do not interfere in the activities of the Judiciary, due to the separation of powers as entrenched in Nigeria constitution.

Below are the 8 hierarchy of courts in Nigeria explained with their various jurisdictions and functions:

1. Supreme Court of Nigeria

The apex or number one court in Nigeria. The Supreme Court of Nigeria jurisdiction is the highest and most important in the country. This means one can not appeal a decision made by the supreme court in any other Nigerian court. The rulings and decisions of the supreme court of Nigeria is final and binding. Established on October 1 1963, the apex court is embedded with the jurisdiction to hear appeals from the court of appeal. This is shown in its appellate jurisdictions over both federal and highest state courts.

The supreme court is currently located in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria and is made of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and such number of justices not more than 21. The National Judicial Council (NJC) recommends Justices of the Supreme court to the President who then appoints the Justice after confirmation from the Nigerian Senate. Every Justice of the supreme court is mandated to resign at the age of 70. The Chief Justice of Nigeria is Chief Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad.

Functions of the Supreme Court in Nigeria

Below are the roles of Nigeria’s supreme court:

  • It serves as the final court of appeal or court of last resort for all civil and criminal cases in Nigeria.
  • Settles disputes between state versus state, state versus the federal government.
  • Functions primarily as an appellate court.
  • Serves as an interpreter of the law and constitution.
  • Advisory role to the executive.
  • Guardian of the constitution of the land.

2. Court of Appeal

After the supreme court, the next according to the hierarchy of courts in Nigeria is the Court of Appeal. The court of appeal which has the original jurisdiction to determine and hear any question as to whether any person has been validly voted into the office of the President, Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor.

Although the court of appeal doesn’t try issues, its jurisdiction isn’t limited to election matters alone. The court of Appeal is led by the President of the Court of Appeal and comprises of 66 judges at all times as approved by the Senate. There are currently seventy-two Nigerian courts of appeals across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

Functions of Court of Appeal in Nigeria

The roles of the appeal court include:

  • Serves as the intermediate appellate courts of the Nigerian federal court system.
  • The court of appeals decides appeals from the district courts within the federal judicial system, and in some instances from other designated federal courts and administrative agencies
  • Has the power to establish whether the correct results of governorship or presidential elections and their tenure in office.

3. The Federal High Court

The Federal High Court is the third in rank according to the hierarchy of courts in Nigeria just after the Court of Appeal. It is headed by the Chief Judge and contains the number of Judges allowed may be preassigned by an Act of the National Assembly. The Court has exclusive jurisdiction in civil cases and matters relating to the revenue of the Government of the Federation such as taxation, customs, and excise duties, banking, copyright, admiralty, citizenship, etc. It can be found in more than 15 states in the country.

Functions of the Federal High Court in Nigeria

Below are some of the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

  • Any Federal enactment relating to copyright, patent, designs, trademarks and passing-off, industries designs and merchandise marks, business names, commercial and industrial monopolies, combines and trusts, standards of goods and commodities and industrial standards
  • Diplomatic, consular and trade representation;
  • The administration or the management and control of the Federal Government or any of its agencies.

4. State High Court

Every state has its own High Court headed by a Chief Judge and supported by such number of Judges as may be prescribed by a Law of the State. The High court has unlimited jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil and criminal proceedings under any law of the state. Section 255 of the 1999 Constitution provides for the provision of a High Court in each of the states in Nigeria and the FCT. Each of these courts is headed by a chief judge. While the number of judges is determined by the State House of Assembly and the National Assembly as for High Court of the FCT. It has the largest jurisdiction under the 1999 Constitution in civil and criminal cases and has the appellant jurisdiction over decisions of Customary Courts, Area Courts, Magistrate Courts, etc.

Functions of State High Court

  • Authority to hear matters on both criminal and civil cases in the state as entrenched under the 1999 constitution.
  • Hear appeals from customary courts and magistrate courts.

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5. National Industrial Court

This court is headed by the President of the National Industrial Court divided into various judicial separations for administrative convenience which sits in some states in Nigeria. The address of the headquarters of the National Industrial Court is located at 11, New Bussa Close, Area 3, Garki, Abuja. The court has exclusive jurisdiction in civil cases and matters relating to or connected with any labour, employment, trade unions, industrial relations and matters arising from the workplace, the conditions of service, including health, safety, the welfare of labour, employee, worker and matter incidental thereto or connected therewith. Established in 1976, it has all the powers of the High Court of a state and the appellate jurisdiction. Below are some functions of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.

Functions of the National Industrial Court

  • Settling disputes as regards trade and labour.
  • Hears appeals from the Industrial Arbitration Panel and all other employment matters in the country between employer and employee.

6. The Sharia Court of Appeal

The Sharia Court of Appeal is another type of court in Nigeria that is found in the Northern region of the country. It is prevalent in states where Sharia is practiced and these states include: Zamfara, Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kebbi, and Yobe states respectively. The sharia court of appeal appellate jurisdiction in civil cases involving issues of the Islamic personal law. It is headed by a Grand Kadi and contain a number of Kadis. One is located in Abuja and this kind of court can be found in states that claim them.

Functions of Sharia Court of Appeal

  • Sharia courts reviews cases relating to Sharia and Islamic law.
  • They are bound by the constitution to interpret the customary laws of other regions of Nigeria.
  • They handle litigation cases especially for the poor.

7. The Customary Court of Appeal

There’s a customary court in the FCT and then in states that claim them. These types of courts are headed by the President of the Customary Court of Appeal and contain Judges. They exercise the supervisory and appellate jurisdiction in civil cases involving issues of the customary law.

8. The Magistrate Courts and District Courts

These courts are established by the law of the House of Assembly of a State. The magistrate courts function as a court of summary judgment as grounds are defined in this court without briefs or pleadings filed by the parties. In the southern part of Nigeria, they are known as Magistrate courts while they are known as District Courts in the Northern part of Nigeria.

court hierarchy in nigeria picture


[Video] Tompolo makes first public appearance after six years



Who is Tompolo?

Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo was a commander in various guerrilla groups in the Niger Delta which were all agitating against the insensitivity of the Federal Government and the international oil companies towards to exploitation and degradation of the Niger Delta. Ekpemupolo’s wealth, derived mainly from oil bunkering, played a major role in founding both MEND and also his own fighters (Wikipedia).

Tompolo, who led the disbanded Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), was nowhere to be found immediately after President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn-in in 2015 as the Federal Government sent troops to get him apprehended.

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The government as published by the Nation Newspaper also declared him wanted through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for ignoring two bench warrants issued against him by the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos following an alleged N45.5bn fraud case.

But the court on July 15, 2019, dismissed all the charges against Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, a company linked to the former Niger Delta militant leader.

Despite the judgment, Tompolo failed to appear in public until October 19, 2020, when sources said he made a sudden appearance at the Egbesu Shrine in his Oporoza country home in Gbaramatu, Delta State, the Nation Newspaper reported.

His First Public Appearance after six years

Picture and video of his appearance showed the former warlord and his friends dancing, worshipping, and offering Thanksgiving to Egbesu, Ijaw god.

An Egbesu disciple, Bodmas Kemepadei, who confirmed the development, said the appearance of Tompolo, who is the Egbesu Priest, would help to facilitate resolutions of knotty issues in the Niger Delta region.

He said: “As Tompolo disciples and proponents of the Ijaw cause, this celebration to our National God Egbesu, is not just about the vindication and freedom of Tompolo, it is about the military invasion and burning of our communities without any provocation.

“It is about the IOCs that have refused to relocate to the region even after a presidential directive, it is about our people having a fair share of our natural resources, it is about freedom from these Federal Government promoted ailments that our people suffer from.

“We celebrate Tompolo with confidence that these issues will be addressed, we celebrate with our spirits high knowing that the time for resource control is now, let this be a message to all our brothers in struggle, the days of arms are over, we have to engage the FG with intellectualism, we call on all to be part of the resource control agitations, the time is now” (The Nation).

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What is NIN number in Nigeria?



According to Wikipedia, a national identification number, national identity number, or national insurance number is used by the governments of many countries as a means of tracking their citizens, permanent residents,  permanent residents, and temporary residents for the purposes of work, taxation, government benefits, health care, and other governmentally-related functions. The number appears on identity documents issued by several countries.

Below are 7 things you need to know about the NIN in Nigeria

  1. The NIN is your assured digital identity
  2. The NIN is a set of 11 numbers assigned to an individual at the completion of enrolment into the national identity database
  3. The NIN is cannot be transferred from one person to another
  4. The NIN is used to verify your identity as a citizen
  5. Your NIN is what identifies you and can suffice for ID purposes
  6. The NIN is for life, it does not expire
  7. The NIN is a must – have for all citizens

Visit for more details

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Q & A

Aisha Yesufu: Nigeria’s Statue of Liberty



Aisha Yesufu

Aisha Yesufu is a Nigerian social and political activist who came to limelight for speaking up for the abducted Chibok schoolgirls in 2014. In 2020, she and thousands of Nigerians all over the world protested against police brutality. The almost 50 years old Aisha was also at the forefront of the #EndSARS protest and forced the Nigeria Police Force to listen to the voice of the people and dissolved SARS, a tactical unit of the police force on October 11, 2020.

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Aisha Yesufu⭐ was the co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign that tirelessly held protests demanding for the rescue of the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno state. The Chibok schoolgirls were between the ages of 15-18 years as at the time of their abduction in 2014. She was part of Nigerian women that protested at Nigeria’s National Assembly, in Abuja, on 30 April 2014.

At the age of 10, the Nigerian female social and political activist concluded that the worst thing any human can do to her was to kill her. She realised that no matter what she and everyone else will still die and that death is inevitable and not the worst thing in life. Aisha Yusufu said she never feared anyone while growing up though she respects people. She only fears the Supreme Being. Aisha Yesufu in October 2020 said she would not leave the fight against End SARS protest in Nigeria for her children.

Biography of Aisha Yesufu

Aisha Yesufu was born in Kano state in December 1974, she is from Agbede in Edo state. She is from the tribe of Etsako and she is 5 feet 10 inches tall. Aisha described the place where she grew up in Kano as a ghetto. By the time she was 11 years, she did not have any female friends as all her female friends had been married and did not complete their education because they were at their husband house.

Education of Aisha Yesufu

Aisha Yusufu got her West African School Leaving Certificate from the Bayero University Staff Secondary School in 1991. According to an article on The Guardian, she wanted to enrol at the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) in 1991 but was rejected because she was a woman. Aisha Yesufu first gained admission to a tertiary institution at the Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto in 1992. In 1993, she got her A-Levels IJMB from the Kano State College of Arts & Science.

She left Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto after a crisis for Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where she got admitted to study Medicine. This female activist left Ahmadu Bello University when it was shut down because of the murder of a professor in 1994. She then got to study at the Department of Microbiology at Bayero University, Kano in 1996 and graduated with a second class upper Bachelor of Science Degree from the university in 1999 three years after.

In each of the 3 universities (Uthman Dan Fodio University, Ahmadu Bello University and Bayero University) where she made friends, her friends avoided moving with her at the administrative block for fear of getting rusticated. She got a masters degree in Pharmaceutical Microbiology in 2006 at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria

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Aisha Yesufu Career

Aisha Yesufu, a graduate of Microbiology is a businesswoman. She did her NYSC year in Kano state from January 1999 to January 2000. She was posted to and served at Kano State School of Nursing where she lectured students on medical microbiology, development and spread of infectious diseases in patients.

Aisha went to business after schooling in the 2000s. She made business her main focus. She is the CEO of Aliyyah & Amir Ventures Limited and has been with the family business since January 2003. Aisha Yesufu manages the day to day activities of the company. The business is involved in trading and distribution of general merchandise and raw materials in Northern Nigeria.

The businesswoman also founded Citizens Hub in January 2017. Citizens Hub is a non-profit organization that seeks to build a solution-driven and dynamic approach to building a financially independent, active and responsible citizenry. Citizens Hub is based in Abuja, Nigeria capital.

Aisha Yesufu’s Marriage

Aisha Yesufu got married to her husband Aliu, an Auchi man in 1996 while at the university at the age of 24. She was the one who approached her husband. The marriage is blessed with two children a son and a daughter with the youngest child (her daughter) born in December 2001. Aisha Yesufu once revealed that she is not a big fan of house chores. She says her husband is her number one fan.

Aisha Yesufu’s Activism

Activism as always being part of Aisha Yesufu life. She as always stood up against injustice. Aisha Yesufu do tell tales of how she participated in several protests while studying at the 3 universities she attended. She has been actively involved in over 100 protest marches demanding social justice in Nigeria.

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Aisha was a columnist at Daily Times from September 2019 to March 2020 where she wrote about contemporary issues affecting Nigeria. The Bring Back Our Girls civil rights group where she was the co-convener persistence helped in the rescue of at least 100 Chibok girls from the Boko Haram terrorist group with more still missing. She was the Sit-Out Coordinator and then Chairperson of the Strategic Team of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group. Since 30th of April 2014, the civil the group has staged a sit-in protest at the Unity Fountain to compel the government to bring back the remaining girls despite all forms of intimidation and harassment by security agents and the Nigerian government.

In 2019, Aisha volunteered as a member of the Oby Ezekwesili Presidential Campaign Organization during the 2019 elections in Nigeria. In 2020, she was very active in the #EndSars campaign. Aisha and several thousands of Nigeria protested against police brutality that eventually led to the dissolution of the SARS tactical unit on Sunday, October 11, 2020, by the Inspector General of Police.

Aisha Yusufu is very active on social media and is known to fight injustice both online and offline. She has been physically present in at least over 100 protests in Nigeria and is known to be one of the positive change voice in Nigeria. She is fluent in English, Hausa, and Etsako languages. Aisha won an Award for Humanitarian Service during her NYSC. She as also won the Social Person of the week on Kakaaki and was also given the Voice of Humanity award by the Guardian Newspaper. Aisha Yusufu is a practising Muslim.

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