The types of rule of law that exist in Nigeria today will be discussed in this article. Nigeria has long embraced the idea of the rule of law in order to sustain a free, democratic, and equitable society. Rule of law is a set of formal and procedural standards that both the government and the populace are aware of. It governs both the government and the governed and consists of a number of principles. The types of rule of law in Nigeria are given below.
TYPES OF RULE OF LAW IN NIGERIA TODAY
The following are the types of rule of law that exist in Nigeria currently:
SEPARATION OF POWERS
The 1999 Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution (as amended) upholds the principle of separation of powers as one of the fundamental elements of the rule of law. Because governmental authorities have been divided and distributed both horizontally and vertically, the Nigerian Constitution’s idea of the separation of powers has a two-pronged approach.
The vertical separation of powers implies that there are three tiers of government in Nigeria: federal, state, and local. Each tier of government is separate from the others in this way and is in charge of its own affairs. In addition, the Constitution permits reciprocal checks between the Federal and State governments.
Furthermore, the horizontal separation of powers mandates that the Federal Government, as well as the State governments, be divided into different arms according to the distinct roles they serve; as a result, the government is comprised of the executive, legislative, and judiciary. Checks and balances within the government are made possible by the horizontal division of state powers among the three arms of government. The Constitution also mandates that each arm of government must have a distinct and separate makeup, and that public officials may not serve in more than one branch at a time.
The following are some scenarios when Nigeria’s system of separation of powers helps in achieving checks and balances in the executive branch:
- On the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), the President would simply propose a candidate for the Supreme Court; the National Assembly would then need to confirm the nomination before the Judge would be regarded as having been duly appointed.
- Despite being the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, the President cannot declare war on another nation unless a resolution is approved by both houses of the National Assembly in a joint session.
- Any law enacted by the National Assembly is subject to the President’s veto, but this can be overruled by a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber of the bicameral legislature.
EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW
Section 17 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (as amended) upholds equality before the law, often known as legal egalitarianism or the isonomy concept, as a fundamental aspect of the rule of law in Nigeria. In the context of Nigeria, equality before the law means that all citizens of the country are to be treated equally before the law, without distinction based on race, State of origin, gender, religion, or political viewpoint. Although the 1999 Nigerian Constitution included provisions for the rule of equality before the law, it has occasionally not been completely adhered to as it should have been.
FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS
The Federal Republic of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (as amended) firmly establishes fundamental human rights as a part of the rule of law. Like most nations, Nigeria establishes specific rights that, among other things, guarantee that the basic needs of the populace are addressed and that vulnerable groups are safeguarded from abuse. However, in Nigeria, fundamental human rights are not sacrosanct because they are subject to specific restrictions that are established in Chapter IV of the Nigerian Constitution.
The fundamental human rights in Nigeria, also known as inalienable rights, include the right to life, right to dignity, right to a fair hearing, right to privacy and family life, right to freedom from discrimination, right to freedom of movement, peaceful assembly and association, right to freedom of expression and press, and right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE
According to the rule of law, everyone who is accused of a crime is presumed innocent until a judge decides whether or not they are guilty. This principle is known as the presumption of innocence. This legal principle is enshrined in Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution’s Section 36 (5), which allows any accused person who is alleged to be guilty without a decision by a qualified court of law to file a lawsuit because that would be a violation of that person’s fundamental human right.
The prosecution has the burden of establishing the accused person’s guilt, which is another aspect of this legal principle of presumption of innocence. Accordingly, a verdict of guilt can only be rendered against an accused person if the prosecution can provide sufficient facts and arguments to establish the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This suggests that regardless of the formal accusations or indictment brought against a person, that person remains free if the government prosecution is unable to conclusively establish their guilt during a trial.
According to the rule of law, every Nigerian citizen and public officer is subject to accountability. The public’s perception of the government’s accountability is therefore a key component of Nigeria’s rule of law. The Nigerian government demonstrates accountability in a number of ways, including through compliant mechanisms, civic participation, the right to information and publicized laws and government data.
Public laws and information on legal rights must be easily accessible to the public and given in plain English as part of transparent government, which ensures that the populace is aware of what constitutes the law of the State. Also, the right to information requires that the public have easy access to information about budgetary data and other government initiatives.