1999 CONSTITUTION PDF
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Having firmly and solemnly resolve, to live in unity and. Arrangement of sections. Chapter I. General Provisions. Part I. Federal Republic of Nigeria. 1. Supremacy of constitution. 2. The Federal Republic of. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA. THE CONSTITUTION. OF THE. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA. Page 2. Page 3. Page 4. Page 5. Page 6. Page 7 .
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Establishment of Parliament. Composition of Senate. Composition of House of Representatives. Qualifications for membership of Parliament. A highly accessible, easy to use app version of the Constitution of Nigeria the supreme law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with it's 1st, 2nd and 3rd. principles, rights and duties established in this Constitution. Education and Article 7: The Constitution is the supreme law and foundation of the legal order. All.
His Lordship went further to state that in ascertaining whether the trial of an accused person was held within a reasonable time, the following four factors are to be considered, namely, "the length of the delay, the reasons given by the prosecution for the delay, the responsibility of the accused for asserting his rights and the prejudice to which the accused may be exposed".
There are many causes of delay in the judicial process: some of these are endemic in the system like highly technical and complicated rules of procedure, while others are caused by operatives of the system, those who serve court processes, the lawyers who ask for unending adjournments of cases, and judges who lack the virtue of promptness see Oputa, op.
While it may be conceded that some delay may be unavoidable in civil or criminal proceedings, since the parties are to be given "adequate time and facilities" 22 for the preparation of their cases, it becomes offensive and injurious to the due administration of justice when delay is inordinate.
In this connection, the courts should consider seriously the issue of applications for adjournment of cases, and it may be suggested that adjournments designed to aid the due process of litigation should be considered, while those dictated by sheer laziness or a failure to grasp the real issues in dispute should not be entertained.
This is because the court has a discretion to grant or refuse an adjournment. Prince James Osayomi: 24 "Every party is entitled to a fair hearing and there should be no over speeding and no stampeding in order to enable the trial court arrive at a just decision. Justice delayed is justice denied but justice rushed may result into justice being crushed".
This is because the doctrine of fair hearing is one of the immutable and fundamental principles of Nigerian Constitutional Law, and any other rule which offends it, no matter how well-intentioned, must necessarily take a secondary position.
This is all the more so if one considers that the vast majority of Nigerians are constantly preoccupied with how best to make a living for themselves and their extended family. Perhaps in order to enhance their own economic standing, legal practitioners in Nigeria have devised the method of collecting not only their professional fees but also transportation fees each time they go to court, thus invariably adding to the financial burden of the litigants.
When this is considered against the background that a particular case could last up to four or five years, then the enormity of the financial burden on litigants can better be appreciated.
As if this were not enough, filing fees in some courts are so high that it is often impossible for majority of Nigerians to have access to the courts. This is particularly so in the case of the Federal High Court, where the filing fees are related to the amount of monetary claims made by litigants. The result is that Nigerians, especially those from the Niger Delta region who are the usual victims of oil spillages, pollution and other environmental hazards, find it extremely difficult to exercise their legal rights when these petroleum-related activities adversely affect their normal activities.
Moreover, for matters requiring survey plans and valuation reports, the Nigerian citizen, rich or poor alike, is required to ensure that these are already attached to the Statement of Claim at the time of filing, even when it is known that the payment of these professionals could very well be beyond the financial capability of the litigants.
Effect of some constitutional provisions It is ironical that some of the constitutional provisions basically designed to guarantee the protection of fundamental rights, unwittingly have the effect of precipitating delays in the judicial process.
In this connection reference must be made to some provisions of the Constitution. Article 36 6. The guiding principle has been to ensure that an accused person is allowed to utilize the available opportunities to properly present his defense in a criminal case.
This implies for instance, that if an accused person is arraigned in court and does not have a counsel, the court will oblige him with an adjournment to enable him secure the services of one.
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Undue reliance on technical rules Law is an inherently technical subject and this technicality is manifested in the various rules and procedures in place. For a litigant to be able to approach the courts, he has to retain the services of a legal practitioner who will initiate the appropriate action, on his behalf.
The litigant, however well educated he may be, is usually unable to understand the intricate processes and rules applicable to his case. The situation is certainly worse for an illiterate Nigerian, and when one realizes that a vast majority of Nigerians are illiterate then the actual picture can better be appreciated.
Add to this the procedural problems that are often encountered in the filing of suits for the enforcement of fundamental rights, and the picture is complete. There had been controversy as to the proper procedure to be followed in the commencement of actions for the enforcement of fundamental rights in Nigeria. This problem became more critical following the coming into effect of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules Thus in the case of Din v.
Attorney-General of the Federation, 34 Justice Nnaemeka Agu declared that: "The Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules have prescribed the correct and only procedure for the enforcement of fundamental rights which arise under Chapter IV of that Constitution".
Alhaji Halliru Abdullahi, 37 where the plaintiff commenced the action for the enforcement of his fundamental rights by originating summons after obtaining leave of court and the summons was not signed by the trial judge as prescribed in the Rules, the Supreme Court held that it was immaterial what procedure was adopted as long as it is clear that the relief sought was the enforcement of fundamental rights. In the words of Justice Kayode-Eso: 38 "It is my view that it would not matter by what manner that application has been made, once it is clear that it seeks redress for infringement of the rights so guaranteed under the Constitution".
He added that the Enforcement Procedure Rules are clearly worded and does not lay the procedure therein contained as the only procedure by which redress could be sought. The Governor of Taraba State and 2 Others, 41 where the appellant was deposed as the Emir of Muri and kept under house arrest for several months. He commenced an action at the Federal High Court under the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules , for the enforcement of his fundamental rights.
The Supreme Court held that since the primary complaint of the appellant was his deposition as the Emir of Muri, the alleged breaches of his fundamental rights to fair hearing, liberty and freedom of movement were merely accessories to his primary complaint and so the proceeding by way of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules was inappropriate in the circumstances". Although it is impossible to have a legal system with persons specially trained in that field without technical rules, 43 we suggest that the technicalities be minimized to an acceptable level to facilitate access to justice by a large majority of Nigerians.
Locus standi One other factor that is often used to preclude access to courts in Nigeria is the overused concept of locus standi. This could indeed create a formidable obstacle in the quest for the protection of human rights.
Locus standi is not an easy concept to define but one can say that it basically means the standing to sue. It refers to the right of a party to an action to be heard in a litigation before a court of law or tribunal or the legal capacity of instituting, initiating or commencing an action in a competent court of law or tribunal without any inhibition, obstruction or hindrance. Thus, the fact that a person may not succeed in an action does not have anything to do with whether or not he has standing to bring the action".
The courts have also taken the position, quite rightly in our view, that it is better to allow a party to go to court and be heard than to refuse him access to the court. Justice should not be rationed. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 48 as follows I take significant cognizance of the fact that Nigeria is a developing country with a multi-ethnic society and a written Federal Constitution, where rumor-mongering is a pastime of the market places and the construction sites.
To deny any member of such society who is aware or believes, or is led to believe, that there has been an infraction of any of the provisions of our Constitution However, it is in the determination of the term "sufficient interest" that the courts have given a number of decisions, some of which have actually operated against access to justice in the country.
Thus in the case of Chief Irene Thomas and 5 Others v. Timothy Olufosoye, 50 the plaintiffs who are communicants of the Anglican Communion within the Diocese of Lagos challenged the appointment of Reverend Joseph Abiodun Adetiloye as the new Bishop of Lagos and asked the court to declare it void.
The plaintiffs in their statement of claim did not say that they had an interest in the office of the Bishop of the Diocese, or how their interest if any had been affected by the appointment of Reverend Abiodun Adetiloye.
They averred that they were not interested in a particular candidate but that the process of the appointment of Reverend Adetiloye contravened some provisions of the Constitution of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion. The Defense challenged the competence of the action on the ground that the plaintiffs had no locus standi to institute the same. The Supreme Court held that the appellants indeed had no locus standi in the matter. Does it make them sentries to ward off all those they suspect to be potential transgressors of the constitution of the Anglican communion?
Does it further enlist them in the army to take up arms against all those they consider to be aggressors of the constitution of the Anglican Communion? Or, are the Plaintiffs merely constituting themselves into 'a busybody' to perambulate the Diocese of Lagos suing and prosecuting all those they regard as constitutional here constitution of the Anglican Church offenders? Its function is to administer and interpret the law.
As the law stands, there is no room for the adoption of the modern views on locus standi being followed by England and Australia. The adoption of those views in England have found support in the statute law of England" emphasis added. Happily, the courts have recently begun to adopt a more liberal approach to the issue of locus standi, 54 although relics of such conservatism can still be found.
It is most unfortunate that the socio-economic structure of the country has made it impossible for the vast majority of Nigerians to have access to education, notwithstanding the various development plans and programs by successive governments, which emphasize the importance of education.
This problem has been worsened by the current collapse of public schools, including universities which has now made education an exclusive commodity to be purchased and consumed by the bourgeoisie through private institutions.
An educated man will easily adapt to the realities of the situation and have the intellectual capacity to insist on the enforcement of his rights, quite unlike the illiterate. Education thus empowers him to maximize the opportunities and resources available in his environment.
The nature of constitutional convention
The point must be made that since education has the capacity of liberating the individual from ignorance, poverty and disease, the lack of it has serious mental, political and economic implications which greatly impedes access to justice in Nigeria.
At a particular level, it breeds poverty, docility, and even forced connivance with agents of oppression and marginalization. The net result is that, today, a large majority of Nigerians do not have access to social justice and are alienated from the political and economic structures of society. There is no doubt that the present government is desirous of enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights in the country in tandem with democratic norms. Hortative declarations 58 emphasizing this concern can only be meaningful if concerted efforts are made to address the issues along the following lines: Judicial reform There is an overwhelming need for a reform of the judicial process in the country in line with the global concern for human rights protection.
This is necessary because the judiciary plays a pivotal role in ensuring that individuals have access to justice. It is suggested that the starting point of such reform should be a review of the relevant court rules that inhibit access to justice.
In this connection, the Federal High Court rules which preclude a large proportion of the citizens of the Niger Delta from enforcing their environmental rights through exorbitant filing fees and procedures must be reviewed and the filing fees reduced.
This will invariably lead to a marked reduction in the current agitations and crisis in the Niger Delta since it will enhance access to courts, and affords aggrieved persons the opportunity of ventilating their views and claims in a court of law. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is better for people to have access to the courts than for them to act on rumors about the activities of government.
This is where judicial activism comes in, as the courts will act as veritable instruments for the espousal of claims and rights. It is gratifying that the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation has recently declared the determination of the Federal government to encourage and support the review of the Rules of Court. According to him, the aims of such review will include: 59 to reduce the cost of litigation and broaden access to justice; to reduce delays so that cases can be decided speedily; to ensure that litigants have an equal opportunity regardless of their resources, to assert or defend their rights; to make the legal system understandable to those who use it.
It is also necessary that conscious efforts be made to reduce the perennial delay in the attainment of justice in the country.
A situation where a simple case of unlawful dismissal of an employee could last between 3 to 5 years before being disposed of, does not speak well of the legal system and makes mockery of the government's commitment to ensure increased access to justice by a large majority of Nigerians. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms Even more significantly, efforts should be made to increase awareness of and resort to arbitration or other methods of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the country.
Not only are these mechanisms more cost-effective, they are largely in tandem with the traditional method of dispute settlement, which had served African societies so well before the imposition of the received English system of adjudication. Enhancement of the Legal Aid Scheme One important agency that can usefully be deployed to enhance access to justice in the country is the Legal Aid Scheme, which was established to provide assistance for indigent Nigerians unable to secure the services of private legal practitioners to enforce their legal rights.
This will necessarily entail the widening of the scope of its operations in terms of increase in the level and category of potential beneficiaries from the scheme the subject matter coverage, coupled with aggressive public enlightenment exercise. This is because similar schemes have proved extremely successful in countries such as India, as an instrument for enhancing access to justice.
Conclusion An attempt has been made in this paper to show the linkage between access to justice and the quest for the promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria. We have also shown that there are a number of fundamental obstacles to the attainment of this highly desirable goal of increasing access to justice.
Constitution of Nigeria
While some of the obstacles are substantive, others are procedural. The point has further been made that some of the constitutional provisions which are geared towards ensuring human rights protection, also have the unintended effect of engendering undue delays, and consequently, conspire against access to justice. The implication of this is that there is need to strike a delicate and beneficial balance between the desire to maximize human rights protection and the imperative of enhancing greater access to justice in Nigeria.
Thus, the right of an accused person to be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defense need not result in undue delay in the dispensation of justice which has been said to be a three-way traffic; for the plaintiff, the accused and the society at large. It is only when we approach the issue along these lines that the overwhelming concern for increased access to justice in Nigeria will be realized and basic human rights given their proper place in the scheme of things.
NOTES 1. Some of these include the London Constitutional Conference and the Lagos Conference and they led to the adoption of several constitutions for the country, the Clifford's Constitution , the Richards Constitution , the Macpherson's Constitution and the Lyttleton Constitution See S.
The First Republic spanned the period ; the Second Republic extended from 1st October to 31 December The present civilian government came to power on 29 May , after about 15 years of successive military regimes that were notorious for gross violations of human rights.
It also constituted the current National Political Reforms Conference as a way of stemming the increasing agitation by various groups and regions in the country. This was established in and it made far-reaching recommendations to redress the injustices inflicted on the minority groups in the country.
Unfortunately, their recommendations were never implemented by the government before the military coup of Set up by the present government on 7th June with the objective, among others, of ascertaining and establishing the causes, nature and extent of human rights violations or abuses and identify the person or persons, authorities, institutions or organizations responsible for such violations or abuses, and make appropriate recommendations.
As contained in the Commission's terms of reference. The Panel toured several areas of the country and took evidence from several victims of human rights abuses, at times with dramatic public shows.
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Unfortunately, it was dogged by litigation and eventually its recommendations could not be published, see Brigadier General A. Togun Rtd v.
See Chukwudifu A. See M. See G. Azinge eds. See R. Dias, Jurisprudence 4. In the words of C. Oputa op. Honesty and judicial rectitude are therefore the very minimal requirements of the judicial office".
See also J. Osinbajo eds. The so-called Macpherson Constitution, after the incumbent Governor-General, John Stuart Macpherson , went into effect the following year. The most important innovations in the new charter reinforced the dual course of constitutional evolution, allowing for both regional autonomy and federal union.
By extending the elective principle and by providing for a central government with a Council of Ministers, the Macpherson Constitution gave renewed impetus to party activity and to political participation at the national level. But by providing for comparable regional governments exercising broad legislative powers, which could not be overridden by the newly established seat federal House of Representatives, the Macpherson Constitution also gave a significant boost to regionalism.
Subsequent revisions contained in the Lyttleton Constitution, named for Oliver Lyttelton, 1st Viscount Chandos and enacted in , firmly established the federal principle and paved the way for independence.
Constitutional independence [ edit ] Nigeria's first constitution as a sovereign state was enacted by a British order in council so as to come into force immediately upon independence, on 1 October It came into force on 1 October Nigeria's third anniversary as an independent nation. The constitution, which was based on the Westminster system , continued in operation until a military coup in overthrew Nigeria's democratic institutions.
To avoid the pitfalls of the First Republic, the constitution mandated that political parties and Federal Executive Council Nigeria cabinet positions reflect the "federal character" of the nation: political parties were required to be registered in at least two-thirds of the States of Nigeria or states, and each state had to have at least one member of the cabinet from it. In January , two amendments of the constitution were signed by President Olusegun Obasanjo, the first modifications since the document came into use in The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected.Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests: Provided that the provisions of this section shall not derogate from the powers conferred by this Constitution on the Independent National Electoral Commission with respect to political parties to which that Commission does not accord recognition.
Status of International Law 1 No treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly. As if this were not enough, filing fees in some courts are so high that it is often impossible for majority of Nigerians to have access to the courts. See the preamble to Cap. Electoral Bodies The registration of voters and the conduct of elections shall be subject to the direction and supervision of Independent National Electoral Commission.
Subsequent revisions contained in the Lyttleton Constitution, named for Oliver Lyttelton, 1st Viscount Chandos and enacted in , firmly established the federal principle and paved the way for independence.
See J. Customary Law 1 In exercising his powers under the foregoing provisions of this Chapter 9 in respect of appointments to the offices of Justices of the Supreme court and Justices of the Court of Appeal, the President shall have regard to the need to ensure that there are among the holders of such offices persons learned in Islamic personal law and persons learned in Customary law.
Judicial Protection 2 An appeal shall lie from the decisions of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court as of right in the following cases- … c decisions in any civil or criminal proceedings on questions as to whether any of the provisions of Chapter IV 5 of this Constitution has been, is being or is likely to be, contravened in relation to any person; … Sec.
It limits the power of the government and establishes a system of checks and balances.