Incompetency and disability is a critical factor in considering who becomes a ward of the court, however emphasis is mostly placed on minors. With regards to the development of wardship the 18th and 19th centuries, the mannerism of the chancery courts during these periods as regards minors being wards of courts was considering protection of property of a minor whose parents were dead or unable to protect the child's rights, therefore indicating a preferential wardship tendencies towards wealthy orphans and could possibly deny orphans from poor homes, privilege of wardship.
The concept of wardship in Nigeria is traceable to the introduction of English law by the colonizers who predicated their overall idea if wardship on property of the inffant, although such base rains true today, the welfare of the child has become paramount and the English Court exercise their jurisdiction in this instance in the case of Wellseley v Wellseleywhere the court deprived a fathe of the guardianship of his child notwithstanding that he had at that time an absolute common right law to the child's possession. The main complaints against the father were that he was living in adultery and that he encouraged the children in the habit of profane swearing.
In Nigeria, section 94 of the Child's Right Act 2003 captures wardship and devolves jurisdiction on the family court in Section 149 and namely divided it into two tiers comprising the Court at the High Court level and Magistrate Court level. It further provides that no court except from the court previously mentioned shall exercise jurisdiction in any matter relating to Children as are specified in the Act.
As regards who can be the ward of the court, every child can be a ward of the Court, excluding unborn babies as indicated in the case of Paton v Trustees or British Pregnancy Advisory Service.Any child who in the opinion of the Court is vulnerable and requires protection may be made a ward of the court considering the circumstances surrounding the child, incapacitated parents and the child's possible vulnerability to depravities.