WHICH IS superior in Nigeria today – the Legislative, Executive, Judiciary or Constitution?
Legislative The constitution defines the functions, powers and limits of the legislature, executive and judiciary, constituted some 67 or more important functions in the exclusive Legislative list and made them exclusive to the Federal Government. It can enact any law regardless of its badness, or goodness, morality or immorality and cannot be questioned. By various Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decrees 1966 – 93, the military concentrated legislative and executive powers in itself, ousted jurisdiction of the court at its discretion, and subordinated the Constitution to its decrees. The Legislature under the Constitution, 1979 and 1999, may impeach the governor of a state or President of the Federation, approve or disapprove ministerial or certain other appointments, criticize or censor the executive or even bring down a government. But the powers of the national and state assemblies are subject to the Constitution.
What is the import of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, Section 4!
Executive The constitution, 1979 and 1999 united the heads of state and of government in the President and vested him with executive powers of the federation. He is also the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. Executive Powers extend to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution and all laws, appointment of minister and Chief Justice of Nigeria among others. The Executive may veto a legislation or even dissolve the legislature. The President in the right of the dignity of his office, enjoys (but rarely exercises) inherent prerogative powers and conventions that are outside the ordinary course of the law and above all persons.
SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 4
- What does the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic ofNigeria say of the Executive and its functions?
- What do you understand by Prerogative Powers and Conventions?
The constitution has vested on the judiciary, judicial powers of the Federation. The Nigerian Courts may in certain circumstances legally and legitimately review the constitutionality or legality of an Act of the legislature and propriety of Administrative acts of a quasi – judicial nature; they may declare a legislation unconstitutional and refuse to apply or enforce it.
Write a concise note on section 6 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
You have seen how government functions have been shared among the three organs (Legislature, Executive and Judiciary). Hardly is anyone completely devoid of quasi legislative, quasi executive and quasi judiciary functions.
Hamilton says that this does not by any means suppose a superiority of the judicial to the legislative power. It only supposes that the power of the people is superior to both and that if the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former.
Obviously, the search for sovereignty within a federal constitutional system is an unrewarding pursuit. However, it seems that in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria lies the explanation of Legislative power to make laws, the executive to administer or to enforce and the judicial power to adjudicate. The Constitution then is the primary source of legal authority in Nigeria. We have to live and abide with all its provisions, which have been fashioned for the governance of the people of Nigeria.
According to Tobi JSC
As our Country is sovereign, so too our Constitution and this court (Supreme Court) will always bow or kowtow to the sovereign nature of our Constitution, a sovereign which gives rise to supremacy over all laws of the land. “(Olafisoye V FRN, 2004), “A government operating under a written Constitution must act in accordance therewith; any exercise of power outside the Constitution or which is unauthorized by it is invalid. The Constitution operates therefore with supreme authority and it is this recognition of the constitution as a superior law that compels the greater obedience, which people are prepared to give it.
It is a striking and fundamental feature of Federation, therefore that its Constitution is supreme and binds all persons, governments and authorities, institutions and among the federating States. The Legislative may pass any law it pleases without legal inhibitions whatsoever. But the court exercises power to decline to apply and enforce any law purportedly passed by the Legislature which violates the Constitution. The constitution is supreme law.
You have come to the end of the discourse concerning parliamentary or constitutional sovereignty or supremacy. You have noted the differences between both. Although supremacy is indivisible, its residence has not been static. Rather, its location shifted as the country also drifted from traditionalism, to colonialism, West Minister Parliamentary system, Republicanism, Military dictatorship and back to republicanism.
In customary jurisprudence, the monarch is considered a divine King or ruler and as such could intercede with physical and spiritual foxes to shape the overcome of events (Wayre Mornson 2006). The positivists and exponent of the same contract theory profess the Queen – in parliament as sovereign as indeed it was in the colony and protectorate of Nigeria (Antia, Locks, Hobbes, Rousseau). Now, however, the constitution is supreme, except under the military when it was subordinated to a decree. (Nwabueze and case law).
“Every developed state has to have a “sovereign” who make laws in the form of commands which are habitually obeyed, and whose legal authority is absolute, indivisible and illimitable” (Austin). Discuss with reference to the legal position in Nigeria.