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Scope of Constitutional Law-Traditional Constitutional Concept

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According to one very wide definition, constitutional law is that part of the Law which relates to the system of government of the country or it can also be defined as meaning those laws which regulate the structure of the principal organs of government and their relationship to each other and to the citizen, and determine their main function. Constitutional law pervades all areas of law in that there is hardly any department of law which does not, at one time or another become of constitutional importance. In the field of family law, the importance of the protection of family life is stressed in the Nigeria 1999 Constitution and African charter on human rights. In industrial law, the freedom of association for industrial purpose and the law of picketing are of constitutional importance. In the sphere of public order and criminal law, the citizen looks to the court for protection. The constitutional lawyer has always had a particular interest in the means which the law provides for safeguarding individual liberty.

Traditional Constitutional Concept

Constitutional concepts are those ideas which influence the nature or form of constitution. A basic idea, which seems to encompass these concepts and has permeated constitutional making in modern world is that of “Constitutionalism” or “limited government” i.e. the idea of

including in the constitution certain rules and regulations geared towards preventing abuse or the exercise of arbitrary power-by government. This idea was first given birth to during the developmental years of natural law, sovereign powers by divine laws.

Noteworthy among these was John Locke’s theory of ‘Social Contract’, which he believed predated societies and made government mere trustees of the common interest of the community. A written and entrenched constitution was later seen as primarily performing this role whilst an unwritten constitution perform it in a less rigid way, through the various constitutional law concepts and conventions.

Constitutionalism is a goal (i.e. a means to an end), and it refers to the regularity of political life within a state by means of a constitution. As a concept; Constitutionalism means limited government. i.e. a system of restraint on both the rule and the ruled. Constitutionalism asserts that there are fundamental limits which must be observed in the relationship between the ruler and the ruled, when the power relationship among the groups in political society becomes regularized under law and subject to well-defined restraint, the constitutional government exist.

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