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Nigerian Legislature (Nigerian Legislative System)

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Nigeria has a three-tier legislature: National Assembly (Federal Government), State House of Assembly (State Government), and Local Government Legislative Councils (Local Government). The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 contains provisions regulating the National Assembly (made up of a Senate and a House of Representatives) and the House of Assembly of a State. It empowers each State to make appropriate Local Government Laws which must contain provisions regulating its Legislative Councils. In Akpan v Umah (2002) FWLR (Part 110) 1820 at 1837 – 1838, the Court of Appeal held that a combined reading of sections 4(6), 4(7)(b) and (c) and 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution leaves no one in doubt that the State House of Assembly is the only arm of Government of a State that is vested exclusively with legislative power to make law for the system of Local Government in a State which provides for democratically elected Local Government Councils. For instance, the Rivers State House of Assembly, pursuant to the said section 7(1), enacted the Rivers State Local Government Law 1999, which came into force on 1 October 1999 by virtue of section 143 thereof. Section 14 of the said Law provides:

14. (1) The Legislative Council of each Local Government is hereby declared to be the Legislature of that Local Government Area.

(2) Accordingly, the legislative powers of a Local Government shall be exercised by the Local Government Legislative Council.

Legislative Powers

Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 defines the legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and those of each State of the Federation as follows:

Legislative powers

4. (1) The legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.

(2) The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this Constitution.

(3) The power of the National Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List shall, save as otherwise provided in this Constitution, be to the exclusion of the Houses of Assembly of States.

(4) In addition and without prejudice to the powers conferred by subsection (2) of this section, the National Assembly shall have power to make laws with respect to the following matters, that is to say –

(a) any matter in the Concurrent Legislative List set out in the first column of Part II of the Second Schedule to this Constitution to the extent prescribed in the second column opposite thereto; and

(b) any other matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

(5) If any Law enacted by the House of Assembly of a State is inconsistent with any law validly made by the National Assembly, the law made by the National Assembly shall prevail, and that other Law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void.

(6) The legislative powers of a State of the Federation shall be vested in the House of Assembly of the State.

(7) The House of Assembly of state shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the State or any part thereof with respect to the following matters, that is to say –

(a) any matter not included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this Constitution;

(b) any matter included in the Concurrent Legislative List set out in the first column of Part II of the Second Schedule to this Constitution to the extent prescribed in the second column opposite thereto; and

(c) any other matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

(8) Save as otherwise provided by this Constitution, the exercise of legislative powers by the National Assembly or by a House of Assembly shall be subject to the jurisdiction of courts of law and of judicial tribunals established by law, and accordingly, the National Assembly or a House of Assembly shall not enact any law that ousts or purports to oust the jurisdiction of a court of law or of a judicial tribunal established by law.

(9) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, the National Assembly or a House of Assembly shall not, in relation to any criminal offence whatsoever, have power to make any law which shall have retrospective effect.

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