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The basic essence of the criminal justice system is to maintain law and order and the effective management of law offenders to the end of making them answerable to law and order in the society. The main problem facing our criminal justice system in our country is the inadequacy and ineffective enforcement of existing laws in relation to young persons and juvenile offenders. This work will x-ray how the court dispenses juvenile justice in Nigeria, and examines laws that provides and protects children and young person and their enforcement. This work discusses the effectiveness of laws applicable to children in other jurisdiction. This work uses the descriptive and analytical method to review the laws applicable to children and young offenders and provides recommendations and it highlights the great role the court has to play in the dispensation of justice in the juvenile system of criminal justice in Nigeria. This research is divided into five chapters. Chapter one is the introduction





Juvenile Justice System

The juvenile justice system is made up of the police, the juvenile court and a remand home. It is different from the orthodox criminal justice system because the juvenile justice does not include the prisons instead, it has remand homes or approved institutions in its place and the courts are special courts for adjudication of cases involving child offenders.

A central problem which arises most often in the administration of justice is the determination of the age of a person under the Children and Young Persons Law, Section 30 of the CYPL provides that ‘Where a person whether charged with an offence or not is brought before any court otherwise than for the purpose of giving evidence and is appears to the Court that he is a juvenile, the court shall require the production of a birth certificate or other direct evidence as to the date of birth and in the absence of such certificate of evidence a certificate signed by a medical officer in the service of the government giving his opinion as to such age and the age presumed or declared to the Court to be the age of the person so brought before it shall, for the purposes of the law be deemed to be the true age of that person so brought before it is of the age of seventeen years or upwards, that person shall for the purposes of the law be deemed not to be a juvenile’.

Therefore, in Oladimeji v The Queen


the appellant was charged with murder. The father claimed that he was under seventeen years when the murder was committed. The Supreme Court held that the age of the appellant is a question for the Court and that there is no burden of proof of the issue on either the prosecution or the defence.

Determination of Age

The determination of the relevant age in our society is associated with problems. In Joseph Uwa v The State,


the defendant committed murder. He was convicted and sentenced to death. He said that he was thirteen years old at the time of the offence. The judge reckoned that he attained seventeen when he was convicted and so was liable to sentence to death. On appeal, it was argued that he was not seventeen and the state counsel conceded to the fact that an Ibo village boy who says he is thirteen may be only twelve. It was doubtful whether the defendant had attained seventeen by the time of conviction and the court must take the view that he had not. So, the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence of death and made an order that the appellant shall be detained during the Governor’s pleasure. In the case of Modupe v State.


The Supreme Court held that determination of age of a person shall be at the date of commission of the offence not the date of conviction.

In this work we shall concentrate on the organs that are involved in dispensation of Juvenile Justice System in Nigeria that is the police, the Juvenile Court and remand home.

History of Juvenile Justice in Nigeria

As a tract within the Nigeria criminal justice system, the history of juvenile justice in Nigeria is linked to the history of Nigeria’s Criminal Justice System. The Nigerian Criminal Justice System was created as an important instrument of oppression by the British, Nigeria’s Colonial master. The British Colonial Government in order to promote and protect it’s economic interests, created the Nigerian Criminal Justice System of which the Juvenile Justice System is a component. They operated an oppressive penal system whose aim was to deter and punish even for petty offences, thus perpetrating cruelly under the guide of administering Justice Reformation of such offenders, even if they were juvenile was the least of the colonial government worries. Historically, therefore the Nigeria criminal justice agencies as a colonial institution was designed to take control of deprived and destitute natives, including children, so that they do no constitute a threat or nuisance to the colonial order


The tripod institutions that administer criminal justice in Nigeria are the police, Courts, and prisons, the children and young persons Act 1958 was formerly the most important legislation in Nigeria dealing with matter affecting children and young person. The Act was first enacted as an ordinance in 1935, it was subsequently amended through several legislation (i.e. ordinance 44 of 1945, 16 of 1950 as well as the Laws of Nigeria 131 of 1954, 47 of 1955 and order – in Council 22 of 1946)


. Intended as a National Law (chapter 32 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and Lagos 1958) provisions were made for its adoption as regional laws and subsequently as state laws. As a result the law was extended to the Eastern and Western Regions of Nigeria in 1946. The law was enacted for the Northern Region in 1958 and constituted the children and young persons law, chapter 21 of the Law of Northern Nigeria 1963 Lagos State also adopted the law in 1970 – children and young persons law (chapter 25 of the law of Lagos State).


(1964) All NLR 13.


(1965) ANLR 356.


[1988] 4 NWLR (pt.87) 130 SC.


  H Ijaiya, Juvenile Justice Administration in Nigeria, 2 NUJSL (2009) available at <www.NUJS/awreview.org/articles2009 vol. 2 No.4 /hakeemiyaya.pdf.> accessed on 8 February 2015.


  EEO Alemika and IC Chukwuma, Juvenile Justice Administration in Nigeria: Philosophy and Practice, Centre for Law Enforcement Education, Lagos, 2001. Available at <www.cleanorg/Juvenile%20report.pdf.> accessed on 8 February 2015.    

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