Nigeria Order-in-Council, 1913 established for Nigeria, a Nigeria Council. It was an advisory and deliberative council. A legislative Council for the Colony of Lagos was also set up. The Legislative, Executive and Judicial structures already in place were more extended to the whole country.
Richard Constitution, 1946
This Constitution established for Nigeria (i) a legislative Council and (ii) Executive Council – comprising officials only. It also vested legislative powers in the governor absolutely but with the advice of the legislative council. Both Legislative and Executive Councils were in 1947 replaced with only one Legislative Council comprising unofficial majority and the governor thereafter legislated with its advice and consent. The supremacy which had been usurped had commended its return journey by installment.
Major reforms of the judiciary occurred in 1933 with the passing in that year of the Supreme Court (Amendment) ordinance. The Protectorate Courts Ordinance, West African Court of Appeal Ordinance and the Native Courts Ordinance. The combined effect was to establish the Magistrates and High Court systems as we have them today and remove from the jurisdiction of Administrative officers matters which are judicial. However, judicial functions remain shared between the executive and judicial organs of government. Additional reforms occurred in 1943 and a separate law for juveniles and juvenile courts were created.
McPherson Constitution, 1951
This Constitution formalized the division of Nigeria into three regions with headquarters in Kaduna, Ibadan and Enugu. It established Central and Regional legislatures controlled by elected majority, a council of Ministers, majority of which were elected. Natives for the first Time began to participate in the legislative process. But the Governor still legislated without advice in specific area and also exercises a casting vote.
In keeping with Lyttleton constitution, 1954, members of the legislative Council and the Executive Council were elected except the Governor-General (Centre), Governors (Regions) and three officials. The Judiciary was regionalized. The Federal Supreme Court replaced the West African Court of Appeal. Appeals lay to Her Majesty’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, UK.
Examine critically how the provisions of the constitutions of 1922 and 1954 affected the Parliamentary Supremacy or Constitutional
Supremacy in Nigeria.
From 1957, the executive began to be elected representative; the regional governor appointed the premier and the Governor –General, including the Prime Minister from the majority party. The Regional premiers and the Governor General (or in his absence, the Prime Minister) presided over the Executive Council of the Region and Federation respectively until 1960.
In Pre-colonial settlement later known as Nigeria, laws were unwritten and supremacy or sovereignty resided in the monarch. There was no written constitution until 1922 when Clifford constitution was promulgated. Then followed a succession of constitutions one after another, namely; Richards Constitution 1946, McPherson Constitution, 1951, Lytleton Constitution, 1954 and the Independence Constitution 1960. In the colony and protectorate of Nigeria as was as the Federation of Nigeria at independence, the Queen in parliament was supreme.
In this Unit, you have learnt about the definition and types of constitutions. You should be able to distinguish sovereignty and supremacy and identify where each resided at different stages of development in pre-modern Nigeria.
What do you understand by Parliamentary Supremacy?