Gender And Justice System In Nigeria (2012 – 2018)

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Gender And Justice System In Nigeria (2012 – 2018)


The purpose of this study is to examine the gender and justice system in Nigeria. Descriptive technique using quantitative analysis method was adopted and 100 employees of the Ministry of Women Affairs Ikeja, Lagos State was selected as respondents. Findings revealed that revealed that there are adequate regulations ensuring gender rights in Nigeria but gender rights are not effectively implemented in Nigeria. Also, the justice system, religious and traditional doctrines in Nigeria have not been promoting gender equality appropriately. The study however recommends that the civil society organizations including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) should advocate for girl-child education in order to curb the level of illiteracy among women, as research has proven that a low-level of women’s education strengthens gender inequality.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Notably, the justice system in Nigeria is patterned in line with English laws. Uwais (2010) argued that “this justice system has gone through remarkable changes to fit into the uniqueness of the Nigerian settings. The Justice System in Nigeria is made up of the Police, the Courts and the Prisons. An individual may come in contact with any of these justice institutions to determine whether there is a violation of the rights of a person or not. The justice system is critical and centered on the general principle that an accused person is assumed not guilty until confirmed guilty according to section 36 (5) 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria)”.

The Nigerian justice system started as a division of the state to safeguard and uphold the concerns of the citizens of the nation irrespective of the gender. As a result of the imbalance in the administration of double systems of criminal laws-one by the British or Colonial courts which utilized the Nigerian Criminal Code, and the other by the customary courts which utilized Islamic Law, an effort was made to put an end to the Nigerian customary law in 1933.

However, the British administrators discarded this plan, and in its place introduced Section 10 of the Native Courts Ordinance Wikipedia (2018). At present, Nigeria uses a tripartite system of criminal law and justice: the Criminal Code (based on English Common Law and legal practice); the Penal Code (based on Islamic law); and Customary Law (based on the customs and traditions of the people) Ebbe, (2017). By administering justice, the legal order of the State is ensured. For instance in 1999 Zamfara State adopted a Sharia Penal code, and since then, 11 other States, mostly Northern States which practice the Moslem religion, have since followed suit. Women under these Sharia laws have separate code entirely different from men. This specifically calls for concern as gender equality remains one the goal of United Nation before 2020.

The concept of gender constitutes a major challenge for women all over the world. Also, there exist differences in the echelon of discrimination faced by women as these differ from one nation to another Azuh, Eharevba & Azuh, (2014). In Nigeria, women have suffered enormous discrimination, rejection as well as deprivation as an effect of gender bias. This discrimination over many years has slow down women and influences their peace and dignity as well as their rights as human beings. Ekeoba (2018) highlighted some key interventions in realizing gender equality which comprises; promoting leadership and inclusion where women of all ages partake in political and governance institutions and procedures and support more rural women to get access to productive materials and participate in sustainable agribusiness. Gender justice will further assist more women entrepreneurs better handle their businesses and have the chance to improve their enterprises and performance and deliver on commitments to enhance women duties in peace and security and humanitarian rejoinder and revival attempts and takle patriarchy system which creates and maintains gender inequality, she added.

Gender issue has become a topical argument in development institutions and national governments Azuh, Eharevba & Azuh (2014). This is as a result of efforts by various women’s movements across the globe, which raised awareness on the need to integrate women as active actors in development, this awareness led to programmes at international and national levels to ensure gender equality. In Nigeria the politics of gender equality has been characterized by the nature of governance and the country’s history Essien & Ukpong (2012). Nigeria attained its independence in 1960 and has been under military rule for thirty-four years out of forty-seven years of independence. Although the military regimes were authoritarian, they were instrumental to the establishment of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare in 1995, with structures at national and state levels. These ineffective bureaucratic structures were not accompanied by any meaningful gender sensitive justice administration system Mama (2008). Programmes implemented played a wider political role in portraying the military regime as acting in the best interest of national security and development of the family. Such programmes promote the roles of women as wives and mothers, whose place is in the home Pereira (2015). To retain their claimed credibility, the military handed power to a democratically elected government in 1999 Essien & Ukpong (2012).

Democratisation process in Nigeria has had impact on gender, the trend has been that incoming governments that replace military regimes try to legitimate their governments by responding to the needs of marginalised groups, especially women Okeke-Ihejirika & Franceschet (2012). The process of democratization in Nigeria coincided with economic restructuring along neoliberal lines. These two processes had considerable impact on the justice system for women and gender equality. The outcome of this has been additional burden on women as a result of state withdrawal of social services and women stepping in to fill the resulting ‘welfare gap’ despite gender bias justice system in place Einhoin (2010). Thus, the nature of gender inequality in Nigeria has been characterised not only by the nature of governance but also by the patriarchal nature of the society which has been demonstrated in the justice system. In Nigeria men dominate all aspects of women’s lives.

Women are in a subordinate position, and male children are preferred over female children. The influence of parents in the home is particularly significant in shaping and perpetrating patriarchy Essien & Ukpong (2012). The mother provides the role model for daughters, while the father demonstrates to sons what it means to ‘be a man’ FMWASD (2016). All these gave birth to a gender biased justice system.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

In recent times, debates on gender have increasingly gained considerable attention of researchers. The subject of gender has garnered much weight, and attracted intense attention. It is argued that gender is socially constructed and placed within the context of attitudes, characteristics and activities acceptable to a society from males and females. In other words, the determining factors in defining gender assume certain preconceived and stereotypical elements. Like many other countries, the issue of gender in Nigeria often takes the dimension of discriminatory practices and lack of equal judicial practices for women. Numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been established with the objectives of promoting social justice for women programmes that aim to shape the justice system. However, gender inequality remains an obvious problem that promotes injustice in the society. This has constituted a major issue in the country and make the study of gender and justice system in Nigeria a relevant one. Furthermore, it emphasizes the need to reassess the issue of gender rights as embedded within institutional laws and practices in analyzing the issue of discrimination, inequality and injustice that persistently confront women. It is therefore pertinent to examine gender equality and injustice in Nigeria, recognizing the fact that if such is left unattended, it may lead to social disorder and injustices among humanity.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to examine the relationship between gender and justice system in Nigeria while other specific objectives are to:

  1. Ascertain the nature of gender in Nigeria
  2. Analyze the process of evolution of the Nigeria Justice System.
  3. Examine the relationship between gender right and justice system in Nigeria.
  4. Find out the level of implementation of gender right in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions will guide the researcher to achieve the set objectives.

  1. What is the nature of gender in Nigeria.
  2. What is the process of evolution of the Nigeria Justice System?
  3. What is the relationship between gender right and justice system in Nigeria?
  4. What is the level of implementation of gender right in Nigeria?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study is significant to Nigeria socio-political space, hence, outcome of this study will educate the government, policy makers, gender policy administrators on strategic justice system administration that address all gender-related issues. It will further educate the general public on gender right as it constitute an effective gender advocacy tool that will promote gender right and non discriminatory justice system in Nigeria. This research will be a contribution to knowledge on existing studies in the area of gender and justice system in Nigeria, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area

1.6 Methodology

Methodology is part of the research that shows the ways and approaches of collecting the data Oliver (2004). This research is primarily qualitative as it is based on the gender and justice system in Nigeria between 2012 and 2018. The reason for choosing the qualitative analysis strategy is the exploratory and the qualitative nature of study. According to Mosa & Clark (2001), flexibility is always the main strength of the case study strategy in terms of interpretation and getting access to the specified places. The research will adopt secondary data. Document analysis/content analysis will also be carried out. Document analysis/content analysis also called “textual analysis” Travers (2001) in the study will include all kinds of academic articles, textual and multi-media products, ranging from television programmes to web sites on the internet

Sources of Data

In the course of research for this work relevant data and information will be obtained from the main sources. These were primary and secondary source.

Primary data will be obtained with the use of questionnaire. Secondary data will be collected from textbooks. Journals, publications of ministries of women affairs and justice.

1.7 Scope of the Study

It will cover all debates of gender right, equality, discrimination as enshrined in the Nigeria justice system. It will also cover gender and justice system in Nigeria between 2012 and 2018. The study will also cover the whole of Lagos State.

1.8 Definition of Terms


The state of being male or female, especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones.

Justice System:

Is the set of agencies and processes established by governments to control crime, defend the right of citizens and impose penalties on those who violate laws.

Gender Rights:

Is the gender equality which is achieved when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society.


The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of gender.


The state of being on the same level, especially in status, rights, or opportunities

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