International Council for Education, Research and Training

Volunteers Justice Scheme: A Framework for Community Justice in the South-Western Nigeria

Aderogba, Ademola

Department of General Studies, Lagos State University of Science and Technology, Ikorodu, Lagos State, Nigeria


The focus of the study is on how to improve the justice system in Nigeria by reducing court congestion and improving access to justice through community justice system. The issue of court congestion, delay in court processes, and the inaccessibility of the justice system to the poor and uneducated is affecting the sustainable peaceful co-existence and orderliness in Nigeria. The inability of government to sustainably fund the justice system is a clear pointer that there is need for a people-centered approach to reduce the burden on government and to increase accessibility. Therefore, adopting descriptive analysis method, and relying on relevant secondary data, the paper examines the pre-colonial traditional justice system in the Yorubaland (South-west, Nigeria), and post-traditional justice system in Nigeria to identify salient issues responsible for inefficiency and inaccessibility. In the process, the paper identifies community justice as an alternative justice system and proposed the Volunteers Justice Scheme (VJS) committee, which is a non-formal alternative dispute resolution mechanism, that relies on community trust, knowledge of their tradition, with little or no financial cost incurred, no technical legal requirements and time friendly; to be established  in each of the wards at the local governments level, as a framework for the operation of community justice in South-western Nigeria. Among the essential for the scheme are enabling law, a coordinating center at the local government, stakeholders’ representatives to serve as volunteers, and identifying a public building in each of the wards as venues for the operation of the committee. Thus, for effective implementation of the Scheme, the study suggests constitutional amendment to integrate the Scheme into the justice system, mass education to mobilize citizens, and training of committee members for efficient operation.

Keywords: Community Justice, Court Congestion, Justice System, Volunteerism

Impact Statement

The global year to realize the UN 16th sustainable development goal, which is the promotion of peace and strong justice institutions, is 2030, but according to the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2021, Nigeria ranked 121 out of 139 countries and 26th of 33 in the sub-Saharan region. A principal indicator is Access to Justice, which according to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) involves legal protection, awareness, aid, counsel, adjudication, enforcement, and active participation of the civil society. However, various indicators reveal that access to justice in Nigeria is greatly hindered by delays, corruption, cost of litigation, ambiguous legal rules and procedures, low awareness and poor legal knowledge.

Therefore, there is a need for community justice scheme as an alternative justice strategy to complement the formal judicial system. To achieve effective justice system, USIP prescribes combining both informal/ non-state system and formal legal mechanisms. Thus, Volunteer Justice Scheme will serve as a good framework towards instituting effective community justice system in Nigeria, because it involves the civil society volunteers, cost-effective, time-saving, confidence-boosting, and drastically decongesting the court.

About The Author

Dr Ademola Aderogba holds a PhD in Public Administration, with research interest in public policy, local government, and rural development. He has authored and co-authored publications in both national and international journals. He is a Senior Lecturer, and presently the Dean of Students’ Affairs, at the Lagos state University of Science and Technology; formerly Lagos State Polytechnic where he was a Chief lecturer and the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship before the transmutation.

  1. Adebayo, E. (2022). Jurisdiction of Courts in Nigeria. Available Online:
  2. Adeniyi, J.A. (2019). Peace and Conflict Management in Traditional Yoruba Society. Journal of Living Together, 6(1), 201-224, ISSN 2373-6631.
  3. Akanji, O.R. & Dada, O. (2012). Oro Cult: The Traditional Way of Political Administration, Judiciary System and Cleansing Among the Pre-colonial Yoruba Natives of Nigeria. The Journal of International Social Research, 5(23), 19-26.
  4. Ali, Y. (n.d.). The Evolution of Ideal Nigerian Judiciary in The New Millennium. Available Online: 
  5. Alobo, E. & Inaku, J. (2018). An Appraisal of The Principle of Restorative Justice in The Nigerian Criminal Justice System. International Journal of Engineering Technologies and Management Research, 5(12), 134-145.
  6. Ani, C. (2020). Access to Justice in Nigerian Criminal and Civil Justice Systems. Available Online:
  7. Anyi, B. (2022).  The Administration of Justice in Nigeria: Issues and Challenges. Available Online:\
  8. Ayuba, M. (2019). Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: An Empirical Study of Cases and Implications of Delayed Justice by the Nigerian Courts. Available Online: 
  9. Azinge, E. (2022). Towards Effective Justice Delivery System in Nigeria, The Guuardian, March 22, 2022.
  10. Britanica (April, 2023). A Theory of Justice/Work by Rawls. 
  11. Brems, E. & Adekoya, C. (2010). Human Rights Enforcement by People Living in Poverty: Access to Justice in Nigeria. Journal of African Law, 54 (2), 258-282. DOI: 10.1017/S0021855310000070
  12. Busari, F. (2019). Special Report: Case Congestion in Lagos Courts Hinder Access to Justice. Premium Times, August 29, 2019.
  13. California Community Justice Project (2004). Community Justice: What’s in It for You? San Francisco, California: Administrative Office of the Courts.
  14. Crawford, C. & Maldonaldo, D. (2020). Access to Justice: Theory and Practice from a Comparative Perspective. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, 27(1), 1-14.
  15. Hammergren, L., Dory Reiling, D. & Di Giovanni, A. (2007). Justice Sector Assessments – A Handbook. Washington, DC: World Bank. Available Online:
  16. Igwe, O. & Agbor, B. (2021). Review of the Impacts of Poverty on the Access to Justice in Nigeria. Nnamdi Azikiwe University Journal of International Law & Jurisprudence, 12 (2), 187-195.
  17. Ijagbemi, E.A. (1973). A note on Temp Kingship in the early 19th Century. In O. Ikime & S. Osoba, (eds.) Tarikh, 4(2), 82–86. Essex, United Kingdom.
  18. John, B. (2023, May 11). 52,436 Inmates Awaiting Trial Nationwide -FG. International Centre for Investigative Reporting. Available Online:
  19. Karp, D. (1999). Community Justice: Six Challenges. Journal of Community Psychology, 27(6), 751-769.
  20. Karp, D. & Clear, T. Community Justice: A Conceptual Framework. Boundary Changes in Criminal Justice Organizations, 2, 323-368.
  21. Kekere, A.I. (2020). Decongesting Nigerian Correctional facilities: An Outline and Critique of the Efforts under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015. Journal of Law and Judicial System, 3(2), 45-56, ISSN 2637-5893.
  22. Lakai, L. (2017). The Nigerian Judiciary In The 21st Century And The Challenges In Justice Delivery. KAS African Law Study Library – Librairie Africaine d’Etudes Juridiques, 4, 424-439.
  23. Mohammed, I.S., Muhammad, F. & Osman, N.B. (2017). Nigerian Justice System: The Ideal, Hope and Reality. Sahel Analyst: Journal of Management Sciences, 15(3), 104-125.
  24. Nowakowska, I. (2022). Volunteerism in The Last Year as a Moderator between Empathy and Altruistic Social Value Orientation: An Exploratory Study. Current Issues in Personality Psychology, 10(1), doi:
  25. Ogugua, I. & Eze, M. (2021). The Concept of Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice System in Nigeria. Journal of International Human Rights and Contemporary Legal Issues (JIHRCLI), 1(1), 92-106.
  26. Olonisakin, T., Ogunleye, A. & Adebayo, S. (2017). The Nigeria Criminal Justice System and Its Effectiveness in Criminal Behaviour Control: A Social-Psychological Analysis. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSR-JHSS), 22(2) Ver. IV, 33-48.
  27. Olusegun, O. & Oyelade, O. (2022). Access to Justice for Nigerian Women: A Veritable Tool to Achieving Sustainable Development. International Journal of Discrimination and the Law, 22(1), 4–29.
  28. Omotesho, A.O. (2022). Curbing Delays in the Administration of Justice in the Lower Courts. A Paper Delivered at the 2022 All Nigeria Judges’ Conference of the Lower Courts on 14th-18th November, 2022.
  29. Onadeko, T. (2008). Yoruba Traditional Adjudicatory Systems. African Study Monographs, 29(1), 15-28
  30. Onyekachi, D. (2012). The Role and Historical Development of the Judiciary in Nigeria. Available online:
  31. Onyejegbu, C.D., Onwuama, E., Onah, C., Okpa, J. & Ajah, B. (2021). Special Courts as Nigerian Criminal Justice Response to the Plight of Awaiting Trial Inmates in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. International Journal of Criminology and Sociology, 10, 1172-1177. 
  32. Petersmann, E. U. (2003). Theories Of Justice, Human Rights, And the Constitution of International Markets. Loy. LAL Rev., 37, 407.
  33. Premium Times (2022, Oct. 9). 70% of Nigeria’s Prison Inmates Awaiting Trial- Official. Available Online:
  34. Sari, M. (2020). Rawl’s Theory of Justice and Its Relevance in Analyzing Injustice on Ethnic Phenomenon. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 7(3), 210-219, DOI: 10.29333/ejecs/497
  35. Snyder, M. (2001). Volunteerism, Psychology of. In N. Smelser & P. Baltes (Eds.). International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioural Sciences, 16308-16311, ISBN: 9780080430768
  36. The Whistler (2023, May 11). Prison Congestion: FG To Spend Over N22.44bn On Feeding Inmates. Available Online:
  37. Toolkit for Security Sector Reporting: Media, Journalism and Security Sector Reform
  38. Ugwuoke, C. & Eze, O. (2021). Criminal Justice System in Nigeria. in T.I. Gomment (Ed.), Essentials of Criminology, Anyigba: Kogi State University Press, 41-52, ISBN: 978-987-988-441-4.
  39. Ukwayi, J.K. & Okpa, J.T. (2017). Critical Assessment of Nigeria Criminal Justice System and The Perennial Problem of Awaiting Trial in Port Harcourt Maximum Prison, Rivers State. Global Journal of Social Sciences, 16, 17-25.
  40. United Nations (n.d.). Access to Justice. Retreieved on 05/04/2023 from 
  41. United Nations Volunteer (2012). UNGA Resolution 67/138: Integrating Volunteering in The Next Decade. Available Online:
  42. Voice, Paul (2011). Rawls Explained: From Fairness to Utopia. Open Court, 41-48. ISBN: 978-0812696806
  43. Volunteering Australia (2006). The Principles of Volunteering: Why Have Them? Available Online:
  44. Wex Definitions, (2020) Justice System. Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School.
  45. Wood, W. Suzuki, M. & Hayes, H. (2022). Restorative Justice in Youth and Adult Criminal Justice. Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Criminology and Criminal Justice, 1-42.
Scroll to Top