SOVEREIGNTY (OR SUPREMACY) IN MODERN NIGERIA-The Independence Constitution-The Republican Constitution, 1963
In Pre-colonial times, the traditional ruler legislated, administered and adjudicated. He was the legislature, the chief executive and judge. In the Colony and protectorate of Nigeria, the very keystone of Constitutional law and concept of parliamentary sovereignty is that the Queen – in – Parliament is competent to make or unmake any law whatsoever on any matter whatsoever and no court of law in the land is competent to question the validity of such Act of Parliament. Every other law making body either derives its authority from Parliament or exercises it at the sufferance of Parliament; it cannot be superior to or even coordinate with, but must be subordinate to Parliament. What then is the position of sovereignty or supremacy in modern Nigeria; Commencing from 1960 when Nigeria became an independent and sovereignty state?
The Independence Constitution
The Independence Constitution 1960 marked the beginning of self-rule but it retained some vestiges of colonialism. Some of the Changes brought about by the Constitution are:
- The Status of Nigeria Changed from ‘the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria’ to ‘Nigeria’.
- The Nigerian Legislature assumed power to enact its laws or even extra territorial legislations, repeal or amend any Act of the United Kingdom Parliament extending to Nigeria.
- The Executive comprised elected members of the legislature.
- The Queen of England remained queen of Nigeria and was sovereign.
- Legislation in Nigeria was in the name of Her Majesty, the Queen.
- The Government and its institutions in Nigeria were the Queens.
- A non-executive Governor General represented the Queen in Nigeria.
- Appeals from the decisions of the Federal Supreme Court lay to Her
- Majesty’s judicial committee of the Privy Council sitting in London.
The Republican Constitution, 1963
Further changes were carried out in 1963, namely:
The Republican Constitution, 1963, consolidated Nigeria’s Independence; the Queen of England ceased to be Queen and Head of State of Nigeria; Appeals to the judicial committee of the Privy Council also ceased; Political independence with its accompanying sovereignty was accordingly restored.
Differentiate between sovereignty or supremacy in 1960 – 1963 and 1963 – 66 constitutions