The Future of Artificial Intelligence and the Administration of Law & Justice in Nigeria

The Future of Artificial Intelligence and the Administration of Law & Justice in Nigeria – Sulaimon Adebodun

The Future of Artificial Intelligence and the Administration of Law & Justice in Nigeria


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized various industries, and the legal profession is no exception. With its ability to analyze vast amounts of data, detect patterns, and make informed decisions, AI is reshaping the system of the Administration of Law and Justice.

However, with its adoption, that appears to be some challenges which the adoption and application of Artificial intelligence in the Nigerian legal sector would be faced by, both ethically and Legally. Although irrespective of the challenges and the negative impacts, Majority are optimistic on the future of Artificial Intelligence and its application in the Administration of law and Justice in Nigeria.

This paper thus seek to explore the concept of Artificial Intelligence and the administration of law and justice in Nigeria, also the challenges attached to the adoption and application Ai under the Nigerian Legal sector. And also to address the Future of Artificial Intelligence and the Administration of Law and justice in Nigeria.


Artificial intelligence (AI), also known as machine intelligence, is a branch of computer science that focuses on building and managing technology that can learn to autonomously make decisions and carry out actions on behalf of a human being.1 It refers to the simulation of human intelligence by software-coded heuristics.2

The concept of artificial intelligence can be referred to as the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.3

When most people hear the term artificial intelligence, the first thing they usually think of is robots. That’s because big-budget films and novels weave stories about human-like machines that wreak havoc on Earth.4 But nothing could be further from the truth. AI is not a single technology neither a robot, Instead, it is an umbrella term that includes any type of software or hardware component that supports machine learning, expert systems, generative AI and certain types of robotics.4

Artificial intelligence is based on the principle that human intelligence can be defined in a way that a machine can easily mimic it and execute tasks, from the most simple to those that are even more complex. AI can replicate human discernment and make real-time decisions, In other words, artificial intelligence is programmed to think, act, and respond just like a real, live human.5

The concept of AI has existed for decades, but its acceptance in mainstream society is new. It took decades to make significant progress toward developing an AI system and making it a technological reality.6

The integration of artificial intelligence in sectors has propelled forward most sectors and it is not without its setbacks and complications, as some industries are still wary of these new technologies and their implications for the future of work. Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative technology with the potential to revolutionize various industries, With its ability to analyze vast amounts of data, learn from patterns, and make intelligent decisions, AI is reshaping the way businesses operate and opening up new opportunities for innovation.7 Some of which includes the Health sector, Finance, Education, and Agriculture.

Administration of Law & Justice in Nigeria

The administration of law and justice is an important aspect of the country’s Legal system. It involves the implementation and enforcement of laws, as well as the administration of justice in accordance with the principles of fairness, equality, and due process.

The administration of law and justice is carried out by a number of institutions and actors, including the judiciary, the police, and the legal profession. The administration of law and justice in Nigeria is primarily governed by the Constitution which sets out the basic structure and principles of the Nigerian legal system, it establishes the structure of the government and also outlines the basic rights and freedoms of citizens.

The constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria

The constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria is the ground norm law, through which other law derive their validity. The Nigeria constitution is supreme and it’s provisions shall have binging force on the authorities and persons throughout the federal republic of Nigeria. And the constitution goes further to provide that if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this constitution, this constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency be void. The Constitution of Federal Republic set out the fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens.

The Nigerian legal system

The Nigerian legal system is pluralistic in Nature, with common law, Islamic law, and customary law as the major tripartite legal traditions. Nigeria has a mixed legal system comprising of The received English Laws, which contains the combination of civil, and Common law, The doctrine of Equity and the Statute of General Application, which were applicable in Britain on or before 1st January 1900., the customary law, Islamic law, and the extended English law.

The Received English laws

The received English laws consists of the combination of civil, and Common law, The doctrine of Equity and the Statute of General Application which were applicable in Britain on or before 1st January 1900, made applicable in Nigeria as a result of the colonization.

Nigeria is a “Constitutional Federal Republic” with a legal system majorly based on English laws and traditions by virtue of legal transplant through colonization. These laws are laws which were applicable in England and adopted in Nigeria through local legislation.

The Interpretation Act receives English law, which provides that the rules of common law, the doctrines of equity and statutes of general application which are within the competence of the federal legislature in existence before 1900 shall be in force in Nigeria.8

The constitution is the supreme law and the fons et origo of laws and it establishes the framework for the Implementation and enforcement of laws, and the administration of Justice. It provides for the separation of powers amongst the tiers of government ; The executive; responsible for the enforcement and Execution of laws, made by the Legislature, The Legislature; responsible for making laws, and the judiciary; responsible for the adjudication of laws.

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Customary law

Customary law refers to the laws which are derived from the customs of the people. Customary law are the laws of the native or indigenous peoples of Nigeria prior to the advent of the colonialists. Customary law would best be described as a usage or practice of the people which by common adoption and acquiescence and by lone and unvarying habit has become compulsory and has acquired the force of a law with respect to the place or the subject-matter to which it relates.9

The System has received recognition in the Nigerian Evidence act, although The Nigerian Evidence Act did not define customary law but it did define custom as a rule, which in a particular district, has from long usage, obtained the force of law.1110

Customary law, though unwritten, serves as a means of social control, and for social control measures to be effective, they must be an embodiment of justice.

Islamic law

The Nigerian Constitution recognizes shari‘a as “Moslem Law” either in usage as “Islamic law” or “Islamic personal law” and as a branch of customary law practiced in Nigeria; and as such, there have been counter and counter-repudiations of this notion by different authorities for decades.

However, Islamic law, as other customary law in the country exists as an appendage of the English common law. It does not exist as an autonomous and self- regulating legal system. It is defined in terms of common law.

It applies subject to the standard of the common law. Its courts are established, and its personnel trained and appointed in the same way and using virtually the same criteria as those of the common law courts and justice.11

Extended English Laws

Extended English Laws or legislation refers to Laws made in England which is applicable in Nigeria as a result of the applicable English laws. so these laws were not ‘received’ into the Nigerian legal system, but rather were ‘given’ to the Nigerian legal system. These laws were enacted for Nigeria by Her Majesty’s government exercising legislative powers in England for a colony that was seen as comprising part of England. The manner of extension depended on the nature of the relationship between the British Crown/government and the subordinate power in ohhhh question.12

The judiciary

This is the branch of government responsible for interpreting and administering justice. The Nigerian judiciary is made up of the various courts in the country that are empowered by the constitution to exercise both original and appellate jurisdiction in respect of all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any person in Nigeria and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person.

These courts have the power to see to it that there is no infraction of the exercise of legislative power as laid down in the Constitution.13

The Nigerian judiciary consists of several tiers of courts, each with varying degrees of jurisdiction. These include the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Federal High Court, State High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal, Customary Courts of Appeal, and Magistrate Courts.

The Supreme Court holds the highest authority in the country and handles appeals on constitutional and other legal matters in the bid to provide justice.

The current state of the administration of law and justice in Nigeria

Law and Justice administration in Nigeria refers to the system and processes through which justice is delivered, maintained, and enforced in the country through the implementation and enforcement of laws. The current state of administration of law and Justice In Nigeria faces several challenges that impact its efficiency, accessibility, and productivity. They include:


Corruption is one of the challenges to justice administration in Nigeria. Corruption in the justice system undermines its core values of fairness, equity, and impartiality, when judges and court officials are compromised, it results in the abuse of power, and the delivery of justice is compromised.14. Corruption cripples the administration of justice which has far reaching effects on the larger society.

Insecurity of Judicial Personnel

Insecurity of judicial personnel is one of the core challenges to justice administration in Nigeria. In some parts of Nigeria, it has become increasingly difficult, to carry out the daily activities that characterize our lives without being in fear of the activities of criminal gangs and bandits.15

These activities continue to cripple the due administration of justice in those areas,   And recently insecurity in Nigeria has assumed an alarming rate, affecting every facet of a Nigerian’s life with no end in sight.16

Poor standard of Legal education

This is the most unnoticed challenge to Justice Administration. When practitioners go through a system of legal education that is poor, the result always manifests itself in Judges who are lacking in many respects not limited only to lack of proper knowledge of the law.16

By illustration; Imagine baking a cake in a pan that has a dent, no doubt the cake will have the same dent as the pan and every other cake subsequent thereto once it came from the pan. To bake a perfect bread, the dent in the pan must be fixed.

The Future of Artificial Intelligence and the Administration of Law and  Justice in Nigeria

AI has the potential to revolutionize the field of law by enhancing legal research, contract analysis, document review processes, and Predictive analysis in Decision making. With its ability to quickly analyze vast amounts of data and provide valuable insights, AI can significantly improve efficiency and accuracy in these areas.17

These tools can analyst vast amounts of data in a fraction of the time it would take a human to complete the same task. This frees up lawyers to focus on more complex legal issues and to provide more value to their clients. AI is also being used to improve the accuracy of legal outcomes.

Legal Research

Legal research is an area where AI is set to have a significant impact on the legal profession in Nigeria.18 AI-powered legal research software can analyze vast amounts of legal information and provide relevant and accurate results in a fraction of the time it would take a human lawyer.18 This technology can also improve the accuracy of legal research, help lawyers save time, streamline their work, and deliver more accurate results.19

Document Review processes

The review of legal documents, such as discovery materials, can be tedious and overwhelming.18 AI-powered document review platforms leverage technologies like machine learning and natural language processing to automate the document review process.18 These systems can quickly analyze and categorize large volumes of documents, identify relevant information, and flag potentially significant documents for further review by human lawyers.18

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Contract Analysis

Contracts are an essential aspect of legal practice, but reviewing and analyzing them can be time-consuming and prone to human error.18 AI-based contract analysis tools can automatically review contracts, identify key provisions, and extract important information.18 Machine learning algorithms can even be trained to spot potential risks and suggest revisions, and Ai not only speeds up the contract review process but also minimizes the chances of oversight or mistakes.18

Predictive Analysis in Decision-Making

AI’s predictive analytics capabilities have the potential to transform legal decision-making, By analyzing historical case data and identifying patterns, AI algorithms can predict the outcomes of legal disputes with a reasonable level of accuracy.18

This can assist lawyers in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, enabling them to make informed decisions on litigation strategies, settlement negotiations, and risk assessments.18

Access to Justice

One of the most significant benefits of Ai in the administration of law and Justice is its potential to improve access to Justice. Many people barriers such as high costs, limited legal resources, or a lack of legal Knowledge, which prevent them from obtaining justice when due.18

AI however has the potential to improve access to Justice and ensure that Justice is Accessible to All. AI will play a crucial role in bridging the justice gap. Chatbots and virtual assistants powered by AI will provide legal information and guidance to individuals who cannot afford legal representation.

These virtual assistants will be able to answer common legal questions, provide explanations of legal processes, and even help with filling out legal forms. This will empower individuals to navigate the legal system more effectively and ensure that justice is accessible to all, regardless of their financial means.

Ethical and Legal Consideration of Artificial Intelligence in the Nigerian Legal Sector

The application of Ai win the Legal Sector would no doubt revolutionize the legal profession, offering numerous benefits and transforming the way legal practitioners work. However it is crucial to address the Ethical and legal challenges associated with the application of Artificial intelligence in the Nigerian Legal system.

Legal Consideration of Artificial Intelligence in the Nigerian Legal sector include:

1. One of the legal implications that arise from the adoption and development of AI in the legal profession is the possibility of AI giving legal advice.20

This is important considering the fact that Section 2 of the Legal Practitioners Act defines a Legal Practitioner as a person whose name is listed in the rolls of legal practitioner(s).18 AI tools are not persons registered to practice as a legal practitioners in Nigeria.18

2. The adoption of AI also raises questions of liability for the actions of the AI tool. Is it the creator who may not be easily found or who may have excluded his liability in one of the terms and conditions for the use of the AI tools? However, when a lawyer adopts the legal advice of AI tools with or without modification, such a lawyer bears the responsibility for the advice.18

3. Human Rights and Due Process: AI systems should not infringe upon individuals’ human rights or undermine due process. It is essential to assess the potential impact of AI on human rights, such as the right to privacy, freedom of expression, and fair trial. Any use of AI in the administration of law and justice must be in line with constitutional principles and international human rights standards.

Ethical Consideration of Artificial Intelligence in the Nigerian Legal sector include:

1. Breach of Confidential Information: A fundamental principle in the attorney-client The relationship is that the attorney shall maintain the confidentiality of any information learned during the attorney-client relationship. Lawyers are required to keep the information of clients confidential.21 The processing of confidential information by AI tools may lead to data breaches, and the lawyer may be liable for professional negligence.22

2. Competent Advice: AI-powered tools produce output based on the data supplied to them and the data available on the internet without additional consideration.16 One of the essential needs of a lawyer is to offer advice to client. Giving competent legal advice requires a lawyer to consider extraneous factors such as societal norms, emotional intelligence, the background of the parties, and the idiosyncrasy of a judge, among others.16 It will be difficult for AI tools to consider these important social factors that a lawyer needs to give the best legal advice to his client.16

The challenges of Implementing Artificial Intelligence in the administration of law and Justice in Nigeria

The application of Artificial intelligence in the administration of law and Justice in the Nigerian legal system has potential to revolutionize the field. However, despite the potentials, benefits and advantages of the concept in the administration of law and Justice in the Nigerian legal system, there remains some challenges attached, which would hinder the smooth application, in a way that would ensure free and fair justice for all. They include:

A.I Equal Treatment

For any AI-enabled system or application to be used for justice administration, it should explicitly avoid any form of prejudice, bias, bigotry, discrimination or sectarianism between individuals and or groups of individuals.23

The above example of ‘COMPAS’ shows that discrimination and unjustified distinction between individuals and groups, is a serious risk to AI use.18 Sometimes the AI algorithm, data or both embeds the prejudice or discrimination; therefore, a heuristic test, verification and confirmation of such are strongly recommended before use.18 Use of AI must promote prosperity and solidarity, in a fight against inequality, discrimination, and unfairness.18

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Lack of Technical Expertise

The application of Ai in any Sector requires the expertise of personnel. The implementation of Ai in the Administration of law and Justice in the Nigerian legal sector would require high level of Technical Expertise. The Nigerian legal sector may face the challenge of the availability and accessibility of skilled professionals to develop, maintain and monitor Ai system. The Lack of requisites skills by legal personnel to use AI- enabled systems with confident for justice administration would hinder the smooth administration of law and justice.18

Lack of interdisciplinary collaboration between the legal and ICT professionals

Lack of interdisciplinary collaboration between the legal and ICT professionals to create a conducive mutual environment that would enforce appropriate design, implementation and adoption of AI-enabled systems for the administration of justice.18

CONCLUSION & Recommendation

Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing the legal profession, offering numerous benefits and transforming the way legal practitioners work.24 Embracing AI technologies will empower legal professionals to provide better legal services, enhance decision-making, and ultimately, promote justice in an ever-evolving legal landscape.18

Artificial intelligence system has gain prominence in legal circles in several foreign countries and its adoption by Nigeria would greatly assist in the speedy dispensation of justice in the country.25

In Nigeria, most of our judicial officers, apart from writing in long hands, which takes time, have to sieve through the high volumes of court processes filed by the parties, substantive and procedural laws in order to write their judgments, and this process not only takes time and contributed to delays but equally takes its toll on the health of our judicial officers. The use of artificial intelligence could greatly assist in the speedy dispensation of justice in Nigeria. If we create databases for our judgments and utilize artificial intelligence, the decisions of our courts could be ready in about a week. It also acts as a great relief to our judicial officers.18

AI also has the potential to revolutionize the field of law by enhancing legal research, contract analysis, document review processes, and Predictive analysis in Decision making. With its ability to quickly analyze vast amounts of data and provide valuable insights, AI can significantly improve efficiency and accuracy in these areas.

In Argentina, for instance, artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to assist district attorneys in writing decisions in complex cases, which the presiding judges can either approve, reject or rewrite.18 This is achieved by the AI program using the district attorney’s digital library of 2,000 rulings from 2016 to 2017 and with matching cases to the most relevant decisions in the database.18 This enables it to predict how the court will decide the matter. One may question the reliability and accuracy of such AI predictions but it does not present serious issues since judicial officers are expected to superintend or exercise human oversight on its recommendation.18 Owing to this, The adoption and application in Nigeria would further enhance the administration of Law and justice in Nigeria.

Also, the use of legal chatbots which are artificial intelligence software applications used to interact with people online through automated conversations. chatbots could relate to users like human beings by helping them to access legal information and documents as well as offer free legal advice or resolve a myriad of day-to-day legal issues on a 24-hour basis without the need to interact with, pay a visit or speak to a lawyer.18

About Author

Sulaimon Adebodun is a penultimate student at the Lagos state university, studying law with a focus on criminal law, Human right law, medical law and humanitarian law. Sulaimon has always been passionate about justice and helping others, which is what drew him to law school. Outside of the classroom, Sulaimon is involved in his school’s Advocay society, where he participates in advocacy exercise and also coaches student. In his free time, Sulaimon enjoys teaching others on substance, and also loves reading and spending time with his friends and family. He is so much in love with procedural law.

  1. Margaret, “Artificial intelligence” (2023) Accessed August 16 2023. []
  2. Jake, “Artificial Intelligence: What It Is and How It Is Used” (2023) Accessed August 16 2023. []
  3. Copeland, “Artificial intelligence” (2023) intelligence#:~:text=Artificial%20intelligence%20(AI)%20is%20the,require%20human%20intelligence% 20and%20discernment Accessed August 12 2023. []
  4. Ibid.2. [] []
  5. Cassie, “How AI Works: The Basics You Need to Know” (2023) Accessed August 16 2023. []
  6. How articulate intelligence is transforming Every industry (2023) Accessed August 16 2023. []
  7. Divya, “WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ON VARIOUS INDUSTRIES?” (2023),efficiency%2C%20and%20e nhancing%20customer%20experiences Accessed August 16 2023. []
  8. Section 32(1) of Interpretation Act. []
  9. Lewis V. Bankole & ors (1909). []
  10. Section 258 (1) Evidence Act, 2011. The definition was restated in Okafor vs. Okafor (2005) 2 SMC 416 ratio 5. []
  11. Jamiu Muhammad, “Shari‘a as Customary Law? An Analytical Assessment from the Nigerian Constitution and Judicial Precedents”(2021) Accessed 23 August 2023. []
  12. Ojonimi Felix, “SOURCES OF LAW: THE APPLICATION OF ENGLISH LAW IN NIGERIA” Accessed August 23 2023. []
  13. Josephine, “Role of The Judiciary in Promoting Access to Justice in Nigeria” (2022) in-Nigeria.pdf Accessed August 25 2023. []
  14. Tiwalade), “The impact of corruption on the rule of law and the effective administration of justice using Nigeria as a case study” (2023) Nigeria#:~:text=In%20conclusion%2C%20corruption%20has%20had,and%20other%20law%20enforce ment%20agencies Accessed August 30 2023. []
  15. Benjamin,” The Administration of Justice in Nigeria: Issues and Challenges” (2022) Accessed August 30 2023. []
  16. Ibid [] [] [] [] []
  17. Elijah, “Artificial    intelligence    will    force    lawyers    to      be          tech-literate” (2023) Accessed August 30 2023 []
  18. Ibid. [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []
  19. Lawyerard, “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Legal Practice in Nigeria by Tobenna Erojikwe” (2023) nigeria-by-tobenna-erojikwe/ Accessed August 30 2023. []
  21. Rule 16 of Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 []
  22. Ibid.32. []
  23. Gogwim, “Position of Artificial Intelligence in Justice System: Justice of the Future” Justice-of-the-Future-by-Joel-Gogwim.pdf Accessed August 31 2023. []
  24. Ibid. 22.) While there are ethical considerations and challenges to overcome, the future of AI in legal practice holds tremendous potential for increasing efficiency, accuracy, and accessibility. ((Ibid. []
  25. Niyi, “Justice System Needs Artificial Intelligence, Clinical Legal Education, other Reforms” (2023) reforms/ Accessed August 31 2023. []

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