Nigerian Constitution 1999 eBook (With All Amendments and Notes)
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CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (PROMULGATION) DECREE 1999
1999 Decree No. 24
[5th May, 1999] Commencement
WHEREAS the Federal Military Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in compliance with the Transition to Civil Rule (Political Programme) Decree 1998 has, through the Independent National Electoral Commission, conducted elections to the office of President and Vice-President, Governors and Deputy-Governors, Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen, the National Assembly, the Houses of Assembly and the Local Government Councils;
AND WHEREAS the Federal Military Government in furtherance of its commitment to hand over to a democratically elected civilian administration on 29th May 1999 inaugurated on 11th November 1998, the Constitutional Debate Co-ordinating Committee charged with responsibility to, among other things, pilot the debate on the new Constitution for Nigeria, co-ordinate and collate views and recommendations canvassed by individuals and groups for a new Constitution for Nigeria;
AND WHEREAS the Constitutional Debate Co-ordinating Committee benefited from the receipt of large volumes of memoranda from Nigerians at home and abroad and oral presentations at the public hearings at the debate centres throughout the country and the conclusions arrived thereat and also at various seminars, workshops and conferences organised and was convinced that the general consensus of opinion of Nigerians is the desire to retain the provisions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with some amendments;
AND WHEREAS the Constitutional Debate Co-ordinating Committee has presented the report of its deliberations of the Provisional Ruling Council;
AND WHEREAS the Provisional Ruling Council has approved the report subject to such amendments as are deemed necessary in the public interest and for the purpose of promoting the security, welfare and good governance and fostering the unity and progress of the people of Nigeria with a view to achieving its objective of handing over an enduring Constitution to the people of Nigeria;
AND WHEREAS, it is necessary in accordance with the programme on transition to civil rule for the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1979 after necessary amendments and approval by the Provisional Ruling Council to be promulgated into a new Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to give the same force of law with effect from 29th May 1999:
NOW THEREFORE, THE FEDERAL MILITARY GOVERNMENT hereby decrees as follows:-
Promulgation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. Schedule.
1. (1) There shall be for Nigeria a Constitution which shall be as set out in the Schedule to this Decree.
(2) The Constitution set out in the Schedule to this Decree shall come into force on 29th May 1999.
(3) Whenever it may hereafter be necessary for the Constitution to be printed it shall be lawful for the Federal Government Printer to omit all parts of this Decree apart from the Schedule and the Constitution as so printed shall have the force of law notwithstanding the omission.
2. This Decree may be cited as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Promulgation) Decree 1999.
SCHEDULE section 1(1)
CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 1999
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
Part I – Federal Republic of Nigeria
1. Supremacy of the Constitution.
2. The Federal Republic of Nigeria.
3. States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Part II – Powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
4. Legislative powers.
5. Executive powers.
6. Judicial powers.
7. Local government system.
8. New States and boundary adjustment, etc.
9. Mode of altering provisions of the Constitution.
10. Prohibition of State Religion.
11. Public order and public security.
12. Implementation of treaties.
FUNDAMENTAL OBJECTIVES AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY
13. Fundamental obligations of the Government.
14. The Government and the people.
15. Political objectives.
16. Economic objectives.
17. Social objectives.
18. Educational objectives.
19. Foreign policy objectives.
20. Environmental objectives.
21. Directive on Nigerian cultures.
22. Obligation of the mass media.
23. National ethics.
24. Duties of the citizen.
25. Citizenship by birth.
26. Citizenship by registration.
27. Citizenship by naturalisation.
28. Dual citizenship.
29. Renunciation of citizenship.
30. Deprivation of citizenship.
31. Persons deemed to be Nigerian citizens.
32. Power to make regulations.
33. Right to life.
34. Right to dignity of human person.
35. Right to personal liberty.
36. Right to fair hearing.
37. Right to private and family life.
38. Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
39. Right to freedom of expression and the press.
40. Right to peaceful assembly and association.
41. Right to freedom of movement.
42. Right to freedom from discrimination.
43. Right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria.
44. Compulsory acquisition of property.
45. Restriction on and derogation from fundamental rights.
46. Special jurisdiction of High court and legal aid.
Part I – National Assembly
A – Composition and staff of National Assembly
47. Establishment of the National Assembly.
48. Composition of the Senate.
49. Composition of the House of Representatives.
50. President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
51. Staff of the National Assembly.
B – Procedure for Summoning and Dissolution of National Assembly
52. Declaration of assets and liabilities; oaths of members.
53. Presiding at sittings of the National Assembly and at joint sittings.
57. Unqualified person sitting or voting.
58. Mode of exercising federal legislative power: general.
59. Mode of exercising Federal legislative power: money bills.
60. Regulation of procedure.
61. Vacancy or participation of strangers not to invalidate proceedings.
64. Dissolution and issue of proclamations by President.
C – Qualifications for Membership of National Assembly and Right of Attendance
65. Qualifications for election.
67. Right of attendance of President.
68. Tenure of seat of members.
D – Elections to National Assembly
71. Senatorial districts and Federal constituencies.
72. Size of Senatorial districts and Federal constituencies.
73. Periodical review of Senatorial districts and Federal constituencies.
74. Time when alteration of Senatorial districts or Federal constituencies takes effect.
75. Ascertainment of population.
76. Time of election to the National Assembly.
7.7. Direct election and franchise.
78. Supervision of election.
79. Power of the National Assembly as to determination of certain questions.
E – Powers and Control over Public Funds
80. Establishment of Consolidated Revenue Fund.
81. Authorisation of expenditure from Consolidated Revenue Fund.
82. Authorisation of expenditure in default of appropriations.
83. Contingencies Fund.
84. Remuneration, etc. of the President and certain other officers.
85. Audit of public accounts.
86. Appointment of Auditor-General.
87. Tenure of office of Auditor-General.
88. Power to conduct investigations.
89. Power as to matters of evidence.
Part II – House of Assembly of a State
A – Composition and Staff of House of Assembly
90. Establishment of House of Assembly for each State.
91. Composition of the House of Assembly.
92. Speaker of House of Assembly.
93. Staff of House of Assembly.
B – Procedure for Summoning and Dissolution of House of Assembly
94. Declaration of assets and liabilities; oaths of members.
95. Presiding at sittings.
99. Unqualified person sitting or voting.
100. Mode of exercising legislative power of a State.
101. Regulation of procedure.
102. Vacancy or participation of strangers not to invalidate proceedings.
105. Dissolution and issue of proclamation by Governor.
C – Qualification for Membership of House of Assembly and Right of Attendance
106. Qualifications for election.
108. Right of attendance of Governor.
109. Tenure of seat of members.
D – Elections to a House of Assembly
112. State constituencies.
113. Size of State constituencies.
114. Periodical review of State constituencies.
115. Time when alteration of State constituencies takes effect.
116. Time of elections to Houses of Assembly.
117. Direct election and franchise.
118. Supervision of election.
119. Power of National Assembly as to determination of certain questions.
E – Power and Control over Public funds
120. Establishment of Consolidated Revenue Fund.
121. Authorisation of expenditure from Consolidated Revenue Fund.
122. Authorisation of expenditure in default of appropriations.
123. Contingencies Fund.
124. Remuneration, etc., of the Governor and certain other officers.
125. Audit of public accounts.
126. Appointment of Auditor-General.
127. Tenure of office of Auditor-General.
128. Power to conduct investigations.
129. Power as to matters of evidence.
Part I – Federal Executive
A – The President of the Federation
130. Establishment of the office of President.
131. Qualification for election as President.
132. Election of the President: general.
133. Election: single Presidential candidate.
134. Election: two or more Presidential candidates.
135. Tenure of office of President.
136. Death, etc. of President-elect before oath of office.
138. President: disqualification from other jobs.
139. Determination of certain questions relating to election.
140. Declaration of assets and liabilities; oaths of President.
141. Establishment of office of Vice-President.
142. Nomination and election of Vice-President.
143. Removal of President from office.
144. Permanent incapacity of President or Vice-President.
145. Acting President during temporary absence of President.
146. Discharge of functions of President.
147. Ministers of Federal Government.
148. Executive responsibilities of Ministers.
149. Declaration of assets and liabilities; oaths of Ministers.
150. Attorney-General of the Federation.
151. Special Advisers.
152. Declaration of assets and liabilities; oath of Special Adviser.
B – Establishment of Certain Federal Executive Bodies
153. Federal Commissions and Councils, etc.
154. Appointment of Chairman and members.
155. Tenure of office of members.
156. Qualification for membership.
157. Removal of members.
158. Independence of certain bodies.
159. Quorum and decisions.
160. Powers and procedure.
C – Public Revenue
162. Distributable pool account.
163. Allocation of other revenue.
164. Federal grants-in-aid of State revenue.
165. Cost of collection of certain duties.
167. Sums charged on Consolidated Revenue Fund.
168. Provisions with regard to payments.
D – The Public Service of the Federation
169. Establishment of civil service of the Federation.
170. Federal Civil Service Commission: power to delegate functions.
171. Presidential appointments.
172. Code of Conduct.
173. Protection of pension rights.
174. Public prosecutions.
175. Prerogative of mercy.
Part II – State Executive
A – The Governor of a State
176. Establishment of the office of Governor.
177. Qualification for election as Governor.
178. Election of Governor: general.
179. Election: single candidate and two or more candidates.
180. Tenure of office of Governor.
181. Death, etc, of Governor-elect before oath of office.
183. Governor; disqualification from other jobs.
184. Determination of certain questions relating to elections.
185. Declaration of assets and liabilities; oaths of office of Governor.
186. Establishment of the office of Deputy Governor.
187. Nomination and election of Deputy Governor.
188. Removal of Governor or Deputy Governor from office.
189. Permanent incapacity of Governor or Deputy Governor.
190. Acting Governor during temporary absence of Governor.
191. Discharge of functions of Governor.
192. Commissioners of State Government.
193. Executive responsibilities of Deputy Governor and Commissioners.
194. Declaration of assets and liabilities; oaths of Commissioners.
195. Attorney-General of a State.
196. Special Advisers.
B – Establishment of Certain State Executive Bodies
197. State Commissions.
198. Appointment of Chairman and members.
199. Tenure of office of members.
200. Qualification for membership.
201. Removal of members.
202. Independence of certain bodies.
203. Quorum and decisions.
204. Powers and procedure.
C – The Public Service of a State
206. Establishment of State civil service.
207. State Civil Service Commission: power of delegation.
208. Appointments by Governor.
209. Code of Conduct.
210. Protection of pension rights.
211. Public prosecutions.
212. Prerogative of mercy.
Part III – Supplemental
A – National Population Census
213. National population census.
B – Nigeria Police Force
214. Establishment of Nigeria Police Force.
215. Appointment of Inspector-General and control of Nigeria Police Force.
216. Delegation of powers to the Inspector-General of Police.
C – Armed Forces of the Federation
217. Establishment and composition of the armed forces of the Federation.
218. Command and operational use.
219. Establishment of body to ensure federal character of armed forces.
220. Compulsory military service.
D – Political Parties
221. Prohibition of political activities by certain associations.
222. Restriction on formation of political parties.
223. Constitution and rules of political parties.
224. Aims and objects.
225. Finances of political parties.
226. Annual report on finances.
227. Prohibition of quasi-military organisations.
228. Powers of the National Assembly with respect to political parties.
Part I – Federal Courts
A – The Supreme Court of Nigeria
230. Establishment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
231. Appointment of Chief Justice of Nigeria and Justices of the Supreme Court.
232. Original jurisdiction.
233. Appellate jurisdiction.
235. Finality of determinations.
236. Practice and procedure.
B – The Court of Appeal
237. Establishment of Court of Appeal.
238. Appointment of President and Justices of the Court of Appeal.
239. Original jurisdiction.
240. Appellate jurisdiction.
241. Appeals as of right from the Federal High Court or a High Court.
242. Appeals with leave.
243. Exercise of right of appeal from the Federal High Court or a High Court in civil and criminal matters.
244. Appeals from Sharia Court of Appeal.
245. Appeals from Customary Court of Appeal.
246. Appeals from Code of Conduct Tribunal and other courts and tribunals
248. Practice and procedure.
C – The Federal High Court
249. Establishment of the Federal High Court.
250. Appointment of Chief Judge and Judges of the Federal High Court.
254. Practice and procedure.
D – The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
255. Establishment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
256. Appointment of Chief Judge and Judges of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
259. Practice and procedure.
E – The Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
260. Establishment of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
261. Appointment of Grand Kadi and Kadis of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory. Abuja.
264. Practice and procedure.
F – The Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
265. Establishment of the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
266. Appointment of President and Judges of the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
269. Practice and procedure
Part II – State Courts
A – High Court of a State
270. Establishment of a High Court for each State.
271. Appointment of Chief Judge and Judges of the High Court of a State.
272. Jurisdiction: general.
274. Practice and procedure.
B – Sharia Court of Appeal of a State
275. Establishment of Sharia Court of Appeal.
276. Appointment of Grand Kadi and Kadis of the Sharia Court of Appeal of a State.
279. Practice and procedure.
C – Customary Court of Appeal of a State
280. Establishment of Customary Court of Appeal.
281. Appointment of President and Judges of the Customary Court of Appeal of a State.
284. Practice and procedure.
Part III – Election Tribunals
285. Establishment and Jurisdiction of election tribunals.
Part IV – Supplemental
286. Jurisdiction of State courts in respect of Federal causes.
287. Enforcement of decisions.
288. Appointment of persons learned in Islamic personal law and Customary law.
289. Disqualification of certain legal practitioners.
290. Declaration of assets and liabilities: oaths of judicial officers.
291. Tenure of office and pension rights of judicial officers.
292. Removal of other judicial officers from office.
294. Determination of causes and matters.
295. Reference of questions of law.
FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY, ABUJA AND GENERAL SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS
Part I – Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
297. Federal Capital Territory. Abuja: ownership of lands.
298. Capital of the Federation.
299. Application of Constitution.
300. Representation, in the-National Assembly.
301. Adaptation of certain references.
302. Minister of Federal Capital Territory. Abuja.
303. Administration of the Federal Capital Territory. Abuja.
304. Establishment of the Judicial Service Committee of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Part II – Miscellaneous Provisions
305. Procedure for proclamation of state of emergency.
307. Restriction certain citizens.
308. Restriction on legal proceedings.
Part III – Transitional Provisions and Savings
310. Staff of legislative houses.
311. Standing Orders.
312. Special provisions in respect of first election.
313. System of revenue allocation.
315. Existing law.
316. Existing offices, courts and authorities.
317. Succession to property, rights, liabilities and obligations.
Part IV – Interpretation, Citation and Commencement
Part I – States of the Federation
Part II – Definition and Area Councils of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
Part I – Exclusive Legislative List
Part II – Concurrent Legislative List
Part III – Supplemental and Interpretation
Part I – Federal Executive Bodies
Part II – State Executive Bodies
Part III – Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Executive Body
Fourth Schedule: Functions of a Local Government Council
Part I – Code of Conduct for Public Officers
Part II – Public Officers for the Purposes of the Code of Conduct
Sixth Schedule: Election Tribunals
Seventh Schedule: Oaths
CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 1999
WE THE PEOPLE of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:
HAVING firmly and solemnly resolved:
TO LIVE in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble Sovereign Nation under God dedicated to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, international co-operation and understanding:
AND TO PROVIDE for a Constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country on the principles of Freedom, Equality and Justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the Unity of our people:
DO HEREBY MAKE, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES the following Constitution:
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Supremacy of the Constitution
1. (1) This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
(2) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any person or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
(3) If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria
2. (1) Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble Sovereign State to be known by the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
(2) Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital Territory.
States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
3. (1) There shall be thirty-six States in Nigeria, that is to say, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kabbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.
Part I First Schedule
(2) Each State of Nigeria named in the first column of Part I of the First Schedule to this Constitution shall consist of the area shown opposite thereto in the second column of that Schedule.
Part I First Schedule
(3) The headquarters of the Government of each State shall be known as the Capital City of that State as shown in the third column of the said Part I of the First Schedule opposite the State named in the first column thereof.
Part II First Schedule
(4) The Federal Capital Territory, Abuja shall be as defined in Part II of the First Schedule to this Constitution.
(5) The provisions of this Constitution in Part I of Chapter VIII hereof shall, in relation to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, have effect in the manner set out thereunder.
Part I and II First Schedule
(6) There shall be seven hundred and sixty-eight local government areas in Nigeria as shown in the second column of Part I of the First Schedule to this Constitution and six area councils as shown in Part II of that Schedule.
NOTE: This Constitution has 320 Sections, all which shall be published in our forthcoming eBook.
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Product description as it appears on Amazon websites (US, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, France, etc):
Rivers State was created out of the former Eastern Nigeria on 27 May 1967 by virtue of the States (Creation and Transitional Provisions) Decree No. 14 of 1967, and inherited Eastern Nigeria legislation in accordance with section 1(5) of the said Decree. Consequently, legislation applicable to Rivers State as at 27 May 1967 consisted of the Laws contained in The Revised Edition of The Laws of Eastern Nigeria 1963 and those enacted between 1963 and 1967. Thereafter, Edicts were promulgated by the successive Military Governors of Rivers State between 1968 and 28 May 1999, interspersed with brief periods of democratic Government that enacted Laws.
The first and only revision of the Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria was published as The Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999 containing legislation still in force at that time. It should be noted that by virtue of section 3 of the Revised Edition (Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria) Law 1991, there may be Laws which, although omitted in The Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999, still have the force of law, just like those included in it. Unfortunately, there is an operational disconnect between the enactment of legislation and their publication in the official form either in the Official Gazette or in bound annual volumes as required by law. Consequently, it becomes a Herculean task to search for every piece of legislation which may be hidden in volumes of files containing signed copies or among thousands of copies of the Official Gazette littered in several locations! Herein lies one aspect of the indispensability of this book, the first edition of which was published in 1994. Without this book, even lawyers may not be aware of some of the existing Laws.
This eBook shall be updated from time to time (throughout a particular year) to reflect changing developments in the Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria. Therefore, readers should remember to check for updates and re-download the latest version from their account free of charge. New editions shall be published yearly in this eBook format. The Laws of the Federation of Nigeria eBook, Nigerian Constitution eBook, Nigerian Law of Evidence eBook (containing full text of the Nigerian Evidence Act 2011), and Nigerian Company Law eBook (containing full text of the Nigerian Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990 with all amendments) shall be available soon in general eBook format and Amazon Kindle eBook format. More resources on Nigerian law are available on the companion Nigerian Law Resources website (www.nigerianlawresources.com).
Table of Contents:
1. Updates and Editions Information
2. Comments on this Book
3. Abbreviations and Guide Notes
5. About the Author
7. Part 1: Chronological Table of Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria (Laws of Eastern Nigeria 1963 – 2011 Rivers State Laws)
8. Part 2: Alphabetical Table of Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria (Laws of Eastern Nigeria 1963 – 2011 Rivers State Laws)
9. Part 3: Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria (Laws of Eastern Nigeria 1963 – 1998 Rivers State Laws) with Notes
10. Part 4: Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999 (Revised Statute Book) and Laws made thereafter (1999 - 2011) with Notes
11. Chapters of the Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999
The author, Leesi Ebenezer Mitee, holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree of the University of Huddersfield (United Kingdom). He is a Barrister & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, lecturer, and former Law Research Consultant to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the Capacity Development for Social Reconciliation Project that provided the juridical foundation of the West Africa Moratorium on Small Arms (light weapons) in 1998. He became a Law Research Consultant to the Rivers State of Nigeria Government in 1994 based on his expertise in the Laws of Rivers State, as evidenced by the first edition of this book.
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 489 KB
Publisher: Worldwwide Business Resources, United Kingdom; 2 edition (24 Sep 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
LLM (Huddersfield); BL (NLS); LLB (RSUST); HND Town Planning (RSUST)
Chief Lecturer, Rivers State College of Arts & Science, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Published on 29 March 2008
The legal profession as we have it today in Nigeria is a relic of British colonization that was imposed on our traditional legal system in 1862 when Lagos was created a British colony. In the same year, a court was established in Lagos. In 1863, one year later, English law was established in the Colony of Lagos with 25 Ordinances, chief among which were Applying Laws of England to the Settlement Ordinance No. 3 of 1863; Supreme Court Ordinance No. 11 of 1863; and Supreme Court Ordinance No. 13 of 1863.
Between 1864 – 1865 the following Ordinances, which related to the legal profession and administration of justice, were made for the Settlement of Lagos: Supreme Court Ordinance No. 1 of 1864; Supreme Court Ordinance No. 9 of 1864; and Supreme Court Ordinance No. 5 of 1865. In 1866, Lagos was included in the “West African Settlements” under a Governor at Sierra Leone, but retained a separate legislative Council. In that year, the Supreme Court Ordinance No. 7 of 1866 was enacted. However, the first significant statutory regulation of the practice of the legal profession was made by the Supreme Court Ordinance No. 4 of 1876. That Ordinance empowered the Chief Justice to approve, admit and enrol to practise as barristers and solicitors in the Court, such persons as shall have been admitted as legal practitioners in the United Kingdom. Order XVI, rule 1 of the Supreme Court (Civil Procedure) Rules made pursuant to section 56 of the said Supreme Court Ordinance 1876 stipulated that “The Chief Justice may in his discretion approve, admit and enrol to practise as a barrister and solicitor in the Court any person who is entitled to practise as a barrister in England or Scotland; and who produces testimonials sufficient to satisfy the Chief Justice that he is a man of good character. . .”
Significantly, contrary to the position in the United Kingdom where legal practitioners practise either as barristers or solicitors, Order XVI, rule 6 of the said Rules empowered every person admitted to practise, to do so as barrister and solicitor – a tradition that has remained till today. There are differences between the training, professional practice, and regulatory bodies of barristers and solicitors in the United Kingdom. In terms of professional practice, barristers principally act as advocates for parties in courts or tribunals and have the exclusive right of audience in higher courts (not below the level of High Court). On the other hand, the major work of solicitors involves preparation of all forms of legal documents and provision of legal advice. They also have right of audience in the lower courts.
The year 1962 marked a watershed in the history of the legal profession in Nigeria. Before that year, there was no local facility for legal education in the country. Consequently, legal practitioners in Nigeria consisted of those who had received the requisite training in England and had been called to the English Bar. On their return to Nigeria, they were enrolled as legal practitioners. One major disadvantage with that system was the fact that although Nigeria had gained political independence from British colonization on 1 October 1960, alien Westminster legal education was imported wholesale into Nigeria without due regard to the obviously differing social, cultural, economic, and educational circumstances, among others. Therefore, there was the compelling need to evolve the appropriate and relevant legal education based on the peculiar Nigerian legal system and society. Pursuant to that philosophy, in 1959 the Federal Government set up the Committee on the Future of the Nigerian Legal Profession headed by Mr E. I. G. Unsworth who, at that time, was the Attorney-General of the Federation. The Committee was specifically charged with the following responsibility:
. . . to consider and make recommendations for the future of the legal profession in Nigeria with particular regard to legal education and admission to practise, the right of audience before the courts and the making of reciprocal arrangements in this connection with other countries, the setting up of a General Council of the Nigerian Bar, the powers and functions of such a Council, the institution of a Code of Conduct, the disciplinary control of the profession’s members, and the principles to be applied in determining whether a member of the Bar should be prohibited from practising in Nigeria.
The recommendations of the said Unsworth Committee gave birth to the two principal statutes needed to actualise the training and practice of legal practitioners in Nigeria: the Legal Education Act 1962 and the Legal Practitioners Act 1962. The Legal Education Act 1962 was repealed by the Legal Education (Consolidation, etc.) Act 1976, which was amended by the Legal Education (Consolidation, etc.)(Amendment) Act 1992 to provide conditions under which a non-citizen of Nigeria may be entitled to have a qualifying certificate issued to him by the Council of Legal Education. The Legal Practitioners Act 1962 was similarly repealed by the Legal Practitioners Act 1975, which has had numerous amendments.
The Council of Legal Education
The Council of Legal Education was originally established by the Legal Education Act 1962 (repealed), and preserved by section 1(1) of the Legal Education (Consolidation, etc.) Act 1976 (its successor). By virtue of section 1(2), the Council has exclusive responsibility for the legal education of persons seeking to become members of the legal profession in Nigeria. Section 2(1) provides that the Council shall consist of a Chairman to be appointed by the National Council of Ministers on the recommendation of the Attorney-General of the Federation; Attorneys-General of the States, or where there are no Attorneys-General, the Solicitors-General of the States; a representative of the Federal Ministry of Justice to be appointed by the Federal Minister of Justice; the head of the faculty of law of any recognised university in Nigeria whose course of legal studies is approved by the Council as sufficient qualification for admission to the Nigerian Law School; the President of the Nigerian Bar Association; fifteen persons entitled to practise as legal practitioners in Nigeria of not less than ten years standing and selected or elected by the Nigerian Bar Association; the Director-General of the Nigerian Law School; and two persons who must be authors of published learned works in the field of law, to be appointed by the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The major statutory functions of the Council include accreditation or approval of law programmes in Nigerian universities which determines the eligibility of law graduates from each university for admission to the Nigerian Law School; provision of one-year practical training at the Nigerian Law School for purposes of call to the Nigerian Bar; and provision of continuing legal education.
The Nigerian Law School
The Nigerian Law School was established in 1962 by the Council of Legal Education pursuant to the Legal Education Act 1962. It was originally known as the Federal Law School. It offers a one-year professional, practical training for persons wishing to be called to the Nigerian Bar. To be eligible for admission to the Nigerian Law School, a candidate must have obtained a law degree from the Faculty of Law of any recognised university in or outside Nigeria, whose course of legal studies is approved by the Council of Legal Education as sufficient qualification for admission to the Nigerian Law School; and must be a fit and proper person, of good character to belong to the learned and honourable legal profession.
Sometime ago, the Council of Legal Education announced a new policy whereby part-time Bachelor of laws degree programmes in Nigeria will be systematically phased out with the students admitted in 1999/2000 academic year. In other words, no part-time students admitted after the 1999/2000 academic session shall be qualified for admission into the Nigerian Law School. This appears to be an unfortunate policy because it denies those who cannot study as full-time students the opportunity of becoming lawyers. It is contrary to the modern philosophy of evolving different ingenious modes of study, including distance learning, to meet the educational needs of people in diverse circumstances.
The Council of Legal Education issues qualifying certificates – Barrister-at-Law (BL) – to those who have successfully completed the training at the Nigerian Law School. By virtue of the Legal Education (Consolidation, etc.)(Amendment) Act 1992, a non-citizen of Nigeria is eligible for admission to the Nigerian Law School and, consequently, entitled to a qualifying certificate.
Admission into Faculties of Law in Nigerian Universities
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was established in 1978 by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board Act 1978. It is responsible for the administration of examinations for admission into all Universities, Polytechnics, and Colleges of Education in Nigeria. According to the official JAMB brochure for 2007/2008 academic year, more than thirty Universities have faculties of law that offer Bachelor’s degrees in Law, usually styled “Bachelor of Laws” (LLB). Candidates are admitted into Nigerian Universities either by direct entry without sitting entrance examinations or by sitting the University Matriculation Examination (UME).
There are different admission requirements for common law and Islamic/sharia law programmes. Generally, for common law, the requirements are as follows: direct entry candidates (two ‘A’ level passes in Arts or Social Science subjects or National Certificate of Education/Ordinary National Diploma/Bachelor’s Degree); University Matriculation Examination candidates (five ‘O’ level credit passes that include English Language and Literature in English); entrance examination subjects to be taken by University Matriculation Examination candidates (any three Arts or Social Science subjects). The requirements for Islamic/Sharia law are as follows: direct entry candidates (two ‘A’ level passes that include Islamic Studies or Arabic); University Matriculation Examination candidates (five ‘O’ level credit passes in Arts or Social Sciences that include English Language and Islamic Studies or Arabic); entrance examination subjects to be taken by University Matriculation Examination candidates (any three Arts or Social Science subjects including Arabic or Islamic Studies).
However, It should be noted that different Universities have different specific requirements for admission into their law programmes. Strange enough, some Universities even insist on at least a pass in O’ Level mathematics! Universities that require at least a credit in O’ Level mathematics are University of Ado-Ekiti, Lagos State University, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Adekunle Ajasin University, Ebonyi State University, University of Lagos, Enugu State University of Science and Technology (credit in mathematics or a science subject). Those that require at least a pass in O’ Level mathematics are Madonna University, Niger Delta University, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Benson Idahosa University, Imo State University, Delta State University, University of Benin, Ambrose Ali University, and Olabisi Onabanjo University.
Direct entry candidates are admitted into the second year of the five-year Bachelor of laws degree programme. Specifically, the qualifications acceptable for direct entry (in addition to the required O’ Level subjects) include a University degree in disciplines other than Law; two-year diploma in law; and other qualifications in disciplines other than Law e.g. Higher National Diploma (HND); Associate of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ACIS); Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ACA); Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute (ACII); Interim Joint Matriculation Board Examination (IJMBE); and National Certificate of Education (NCE). Candidates who pass the University Matriculation Examination and meet the prescribed cut-off mark for the Faculty of Law of the University of their choice (usually the first choice) are admitted into the first year. Recently, individual Universities began to administer post-JAMB tests to select the candidates they would admit, apparently to assert an aspect of their autonomy. Although it was expected to be a welcome development, unfortunately, post-JAMB tests are beset by controversies over the impartiality and doubtful integrity of their administration.
The Nigerian Bar Association and the General Council of the Bar
The Nigerian Bar Association is the professional association to which all the legal practitioners in Nigeria (i.e. persons who have been called to the Nigerian Bar or specially authorised to practise by virtue of office) belong. Membership is automatic upon being called to the Bar, from which time members pay annual practising fees to the Registrar of the Supreme Court in accordance with section 8(2) of the Legal Practitioners Act 1975. The General Council of the Bar is the statutory body responsible for the general management of the affairs of the Nigerian Bar Association. The Bar Council consists of the Attorney-General of the Federation, who shall be the President of the Council; the Attorneys-General of the States; and twenty members of the Association.
The Body of Benchers
Section 3 of the Legal Practitioners Act 1975 established a body of legal practitioners of the highest distinction in Nigeria to be known as “the Body of Benchers” which shall be responsible for the formal call to the Bar of persons seeking to be legal practitioners. The body consists of the following:
(a) the Chief Justice of Nigeria and all the Justices of the Supreme Court;
(b) the President of the Court of Appeal;
(c) the Attorney-General of the Federation;
(d) the Presiding Justices of Court of Appeal Divisions;
(e) the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court;
(f) the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;
(g) the Chief Judges of the States of the Federation;
(h) the Attorneys-General of the States of the Federation;
(i) the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education;
(k) thirty legal practitioners nominated by the Nigerian Bar Association; and
(l) such number of persons, not exceeding ten, who appear to the Body of Benchers to be eminent members of the legal profession in Nigeria of not less than fifteen years post-call standing.
Call to the Nigerian Bar
Call to the Nigerian Bar refers to the formal admission of persons to the legal profession by the Body of Benchers, under section 4 of the Legal Practitioners Act 1975. The ceremony takes place at the Nigerian Law School. The said section 4, as amended by the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Act 1992, provides that anybody (either a citizen or a non-citizen of Nigeria) shall be entitled to be called to the Bar if he produces a qualifying certificate to the Benchers, and he satisfies the Benchers that he is of good character. The Body of Benchers issues to every person called to the Bar a Certificate of Call to the Bar.
Enrolment of Legal Practitioners
According to section 7(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act 1975, a person shall be titled to have his name placed on the Roll of Legal Practitioners maintained by the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria if, and only if he has been called to the Bar by the Benchers, and he produces a certificate of his call to the Bar to the said Chief Registrar. However, non-Nigerians may be enrolled to practise in Nigeria if Nigerians are permitted to practise in their own countries under a reciprocal arrangement, by virtue of the Legal Practitioners (Special Facilities to Practise in Nigeria) Regulations 1968.
Entitlement to Practise
Section 2(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act 1975 stipulates that a person shall be entitled to practise as a barrister and solicitor if, and only if, his name is on the roll. However, the Attorney-General, Solicitor-General or Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation or of a State, and other officers in the civil service of the Federation or of a State, as the case may be, may be entitled to practise as a barrister and solicitor for the purposes of their offices.
Right of Audience and Precedence
Right of audience and precedence is governed by section 8 of the Legal Practitioners Act 1975 which provides that subject to any provisions which are not inconsistent with relevant provisions of any enactment in force in any part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a legal practitioner shall have the right of audience in all courts of law in Nigeria. However, except certain designated offices in the civil service of the Federation or of a State, no legal practitioner shall be accorded the right of audience in any court in Nigeria in any year, unless he has paid his annual practising fee for that year.
Legal Practitioners appearing before a court or other tribunal do so in the following order of precedence as set out in the First Schedule to the Legal Practitioners Act 1975: the Attorney-General of the Federation; the Attorneys-General of the States in order of seniority as Senior Advocates of Nigeria and thereafter in order of seniority of enrolment; Senior Advocates of Nigeria in order of seniority; Federal or State Law officers other than the Attorneys-General; persons whose names are on the roll in order of seniority of enrolment; and persons authorised to practise by warrant.