Customary law is indigenous law of the people and it reflects the tradition, customs and values of the people. This implies that customary law varies in different societies especially in poly-ethnic ones. These customs and values are unwritten but are nevertheless applied by the courts in some jurisdictions. In Nigeria, customary courts are the lowest courts in the hierarchy of the court system.
The project "Customary Court Decisions in South Western Nigeria" is a summary of decisions of matters that were heard before the customary courts in two major cities in South Western Nigeria; Ibadan and Abeokuta. Customary courts are the lowest courts in the hierarchy of the Nigerian court system. They are the cheapest form of resolving disputes especially for the common man.
The main focus of the project is on the "Ethnic/Non-Moslem" customary law in South Western Nigeria.
It features ethnic/non-Moslem customary law because the population in the South West are predominantly Christians. Ethnic/Non-Moslem law in this context refers to the customs and traditions of the Yorubas who are the indigenes of South Western Nigeria. The steps taken to facilitate this project involved meeting with the stakeholders in the two states of Oyo and Ogun state to request permission to access the courts. Permission were granted through the Office of the Attorney-General of Oyo State and in Ogun State through the Office of the Chief Judge. The project involved order attending and participating at the court sittings which were presided by the Court Presidents and other court staff. I have translated and written a summary of each case and they have been made available by permission.
The decisions covered are from February 2013 onwards.
South Western Nigeria with emphasis on Oyo State (Ibadan) & Ogun State (Abeokuta)
The customary courts visited are located in Ibadan and Abeokuta.
The objective is to make decisions from these courts freely available and to educate the society about the activities of the courts.
Although there are no documentations of cases that are have been heard in customary courts, some of them have advanced to higher courts and customary practices have influenced matters in these decisions. The courts have applied and recognized traditional customs and practices in the listed cases. Note that some of these cases may not have originated from the customary court.
• Eshugbayi Eleko v Government of Nigeria (1932) A.C. 622
• Oke Lanipekun Laoye v Amao Oyetunde (1944) A.C. 170
• Edward Omorodion Uwaifo v Stanley Uyinmwen Uwaifo Suit No. SC. 135/2004
• Ndukugba v Izundu (2007) 1 NWLR Pt 101 432
• Odunze v Nwosu (2007) 13 NWLR Pt 1050 1
• Umoru v Akinyede (2006) 12 NWLR Pt 988 362