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Nigeria ranks 120th out of 142 in Rule of Law index

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Seyi Law joined protesters at the National Stadium Surulere Rule of Law
  • 2023 WJP Rule of Law Index® finds rule of law fell globally for 6th consecutive year
  • Human rights declined in 3 out of 4 countries since 2016
  • Nigeria’s score increased, ranks 23rd out of 34 regionally

Nigeria has been ranked 120th in the 2023 index on the rule of law as many countries struggle to uphold the law, the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2023 revealed.

This is the sixth consecutive Index marking global declines in the rule of law. This year alone, the rule of law declined in 59% of countries surveyed.

However, Nigeria is among the minority of countries to see its Rule of Law Index score increase this year.

Since 2016, rule of law has fallen in 78% of countries studied. The rule of law factor to decline most between 2016 and 2023 is Fundamental Rights—down in 77% of countries, including Nigeria.

Over the past seven years, index scores for constraints on government powers have fallen in 74% of countries—including Nigeria. Around the world, legislatures, judiciaries, and civil society—including the media—have all lost ground on checking executive power, the Index shows.

These and other authoritarian trends continued in 2023, but they are slowing, with fewer countries declining in 2022 and 2023 than in earlier years.

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Constraints on government powers fell in 56% of countries, compared to 58% in 2022 and 70% in 2021. Likewise, a smaller majority of countries saw overall rule of law declines in this year (59%) as compared to the last two (61% and 74%).

A smaller majority of countries (56%) also experienced a decline in Fundamental Rights again this year, compared to 2022 (66%).

On the other hand, declines in the functioning of justice systems are now expanding.

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Two thirds of countries (66%) saw their Index scores for Civil Justice fall this year, up from 61% of countries last year—including Nigeria. Greater justice delays and weaker enforcement are largely to blame. Meanwhile, scores for Criminal Justice also fell in slightly more countries this year (56%) than last year (55%).

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“The world remains gripped by a rule of law recession characterized by executive overreach, curtailing of human rights, and justice systems that are failing to meet people’s needs,” said WJP co-founder and president William H. Neukom. “People around the world are paying the price.”

Rule of law in Nigeria

Nigeria ranks 120th out of 142 countries worldwide.

Regionally, Nigeria ranks 23rd out of 34 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.* The region’s top performer is Rwanda (ranked 41st out of 142 globally), followed by Namibia and Mauritius. The three countries with the lowest scores in the region are Mauritania, Cameroon, and Democratic Republic of the Congo (138th globally).

In the last year, 20 out of 34 countries declined in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of those 20 countries, 10 had also declined in the previous year.

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Among lower-middle income countries, Nigeria ranks 24th out of 37.

Global rankings and trends

Globally, the top-ranked country in the 2023 WJP Rule of Law Index is Denmark, followed by Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Germany. The country with the lowest score is Venezuela, then Cambodia, Afghanistan, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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