In the latest Rule of Law Index released by the World Justice Project (WJP), Nigeria finds itself placed 120th out of 142 countries and 23rd among 34 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa regarding adherence to the rule of law.
This ranking was unveiled as part of the 2023 index, published in Washington, D.C., United States.
Countries ahead of Nigeria in the Sub-Saharan region include Rwanda,Namibia, Mauritus, Botswana, South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Malawi, The Gambia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Kenya, Togo, Zambia, Ivory Coast, Niger, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Madagascar, Angola and Guinea.
With Rwanda leading the pack.
The WJP report employed eight key indicators to assess countries’ performance: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.
Notably, Nigeria’s score increased since the previous year but fell two places from its 2022 ranking, where it was 118th out of 140 countries.
The WJP report observed that this marks the sixth consecutive year of global declines in the rule of law. In 2023, 59 percent of the surveyed countries experienced a decline in the rule of law. However, Nigeria stands as an exception, as it is among the minority of countries that saw an improvement in its Rule of Law Index score.
On a global scale, Denmark secured the top spot in the 2023 WJP Rule of Law Index, followed by Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Germany. At the other end of the spectrum, Venezuela holds the lowest score, with Cambodia, Afghanistan, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) trailing closely.
In terms of specific indicators, Nigeria’s performance varies. In constraints on government powers, the country ranks 85th globally and 14th in the region, representing its best performance in any of the indicators. Nevertheless, WJP noted that 74 percent of countries faltered in this area, particularly in terms of institutions’ ability to check executive excesses.
In absence of corruption, Nigeria stands at 121st globally and 23rd regionally, while in the open government category, it ranks 104th globally and 14th regionally. In order and security, Nigeria is the second-worst country in the sub-Saharan region, placing 33rd out of 34 countries globally and 139th out of 142 countries worldwide. For fundamental rights, Nigeria ranks 116th globally and 23rd regionally. In regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice, Nigeria occupies the 119th, 100th, and 86th positions, respectively, out of the 142 countries assessed.
Regionally, WJP’s rankings include several sub-Saharan countries such as Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Among these nations, Rwanda is the top performer, ranking 41st out of 142 countries globally, with Namibia and Mauritius following closely. On the other hand, Mauritania, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo secure the lowest scores in the region, at 138th globally.
The WJP report emphasizes that the rule of law has declined in 78 percent of the countries studied since 2016, with the factor of fundamental rights experiencing a significant drop in 77 percent of countries, including Nigeria.
The World Justice Project (WJP), an independent, nonpartisan, multidisciplinary organization, is dedicated to generating knowledge, raising awareness, and driving actions to promote the rule of law worldwide.