The Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, often referred to as the “2004 Laws of Nigeria,” hold a central position in the country’s legal landscape. This comprehensive compilation of laws serves multiple vital purposes, shaping Nigeria’s legal framework, providing clarity to its citizens, and facilitating governance. In this article, we delve into the significance and purposes of this compilation.
Ordinarily, laws are enacted as a matter of necessity. Any citizen of the country has the constitutional right to propose a bill for consideration, and if the satisfaction of the House is met through the voting and other laid down procedures, the bill is enacted as law and takes effect upon the assent of the President or otherwise. It is trite that various Nigerian laws got their inspiration from foreign laws. They are thereon enacted to operate as far as the domestic circumstances permit.
Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and their objectives
Below are list of various laws in Nigeria and their purposes:
1. The constitution: The constitution is the grundnorm of Nigeria in the sense that it forms the basis for other laws to operate. It is the supreme law of the country. To this extent, all other laws are subject to the constitution, and any law that is inconsistent with the constitution is to the extent of its inconsistency, null, void and of no effect.
The constitution is binding on all Nigerians, regardless of one’s status. The constitution of Nigeria guarantees a federal system of Nigeria, and is structured in a manner that gives way for the operation of democracy. Being the supreme law, the process of its amendment is boisterous. It is not an ordinary law which can be repealed by mere acts of the legislature or by any subsequent enactment. The current constitution of Nigerian is that of 1999. Amongst other laws, the constitution also guarantees the fundamental human rights of the citizens.
2. The Criminal Code Act: Criminal code Act of 1990 is the principal legislation on crimes in Nigeria. The purpose of the law is to define offences and punish offenders accordingly. It also ensures that stringent measures are put in place in order not to convict an innocent person.
For instance, there is requirement of corroboration for certain sexual offences; there is also requirement of mens rea in the sense that one is not to be held liable for his mere act if in fact, he lacks the intention to commit that act. The criminal code is applicable in the Southern part of Nigeria.
3. Penal Code: Penal code is the equivalence of criminal code. Penal code is application only in the Northern part of Nigeria. The law is modeled to suit their local circumstance. The contents differ from those of criminal code. However, the purpose of the law is the same with that of criminal code which is to define offences and punish offenders.
4. Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA): This law principally regulates the procedure for the enforcement of criminal justice in Nigeria. The Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) of 2015 is the current Act. It repealed the Criminal Procedure Act.
5. Evidence Act: Evidence Act is the principal law on civil and criminal procedure in Nigeria. Particularly, it prescribes the manner and the procedure in which evidence is to be given in the court of law. Evidence Act is applicable to the whole Nigeria.
However, it does not apply in certain instances such as: native courts, customary courts, arbitration proceedings, etc. The Evidence Act of 2011 is still operative, although an amendment of 2023 has been enacted to reflect the developments in Nigeria, technology-wise.
6. Child’s Right Act (CRA): Child’s Right Act of 2003 is the principal law that regulates all the affairs as it concerns children; particularly as it relate to their safety and rights. Where there is conflict between the Child’s Right Act and any other coordinate enacted, the Child’s Right Act prevails.
It is a federal legislation. Thus, it applies by default in Abuja. Other states are expected to domesticate the Act for it to apply to them. Currently, about 34 states of Nigeria have domesticated the Child’s Rights Act.
7. Marriage Act (MA): Marriage Act basically regulates all steps as it relate to marriage in Nigeria. it provides the regulations on what to do and what not to do, in order to contract a valid marriage in Nigeria. It applies in the whole of Nigeria.
8. Matrimonial Causes Act (MCA): The purpose of this law must be distinguished from that of Marriage Act. While marriage Act regulates the procedure on entering into a valid marriage in Nigeria, Matrimonial Causes Act becomes operative with respect to matrimonial issues. Thus, the MCA regulates the events which may occur after marriage or a purported marriage have taken place, such as dissolution, separation of marriage, enforcement of conjugal rights, nullity of marriage, maintenance, custody, etc.
9. Electoral Act: The Electoral Act regulates election in Nigeria. The Act is always reenacted to suit recent developments in order to ensure free and fair election. It regulates election at all levels of governance: presidential, gubernatorial, legislation, and so on. The law also speaks on post-election petitions. The current Electoral Act is that of 2022.
10. Nigerian Data Protection Act (NDPA): The clamor for the enactment of this law became successful. It is the first legislation in Nigeria that made pronouncement on data privacy in Nigeria, which is of course, the purpose of the Act.
11. Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA): Companies and Allied Matters Act of 2020 is the principal law that regulates the operation of companies and other related bodies in Nigeria. It is one of the largest laws in Nigeria. CAMA regulates all the affairs of companies starting from the birth of the company to its dissolution. It also defines the rights of the members of the company, and that of its management.
12. Investment and Securities Act (ISA): The Investment and Securities Act of 2007 sees to the regulation on investments and securities. It is also one of other laws that regulate companies in Nigeria, particularly as it relate to company securities.
13. Money Laundering Act: The Money Laundering Act ensures that the value of the Nigerian currency is not abused by making money through illegal means and representing same as legally obtained. Recently, the Money Laundering Act of 2023 was signed into law.
14. Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act: The era of technology has given rise to massive cyber attacks by various means. The Cybercrime Prevention Act provides a comprehensive regulations and proscriptions as to crimes executed via cyber means.
15. Violence Against Persons (prohibition) Act (VAPP)
This Act was enacted in 2015 to provide more comprehensive laws that would govern crimes committed against human person which were not sufficiently incorporated by the Criminal Code Act and other relevant enactments.
16. Freedom of Information Act (FOI)
In line with the fundamental human right as guaranteed by the constitution, the Freedom of Information Act took a step further to sufficiently clarify and provide for the right to have access to any public information in custody of the public agencies. The purpose of the law is to ensure accountability and transparency of public institutions.
17. Labour Act
Labour Act regulates all industrial and labour activities in Nigeria, particularly as it relates to employment, dismissal and other labour-related affairs. The law defines the rights of employees, duties of employers, and prohibitions in respect of employment.
18. National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Act
The severity and reoccurrence of kidnapping and human trafficking in Nigeria necessitated the enactment of this Act, in order to punish the offenders adequately, prevent trafficking in persons, and offer rehabilitation to the victims of trafficking.
19. Economics and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act
EFCC is a body established to specialize on crimes relating finance. This includes fraud, stealing, misrepresentation, and so on. The EFCC Act regulates the activities of the body and defines their powers and functions.
20. The Police Act: The police is the principal law enforcement agency in Nigeria. Nigeria practices single police system as prescribed by the constitution. Their objective is to maintain peace and orderliness in Nigeria. Other law enforcement agencies do assist them in attaining this goal in various realms.
The police institution is regulated by the Police Act. the law defines their powers and functions, as well as the procedures in executing their duties in line with fundamental rights and objectives.
The list of the laws in Nigeria is not exhausted by the above list. Amidst the numerous laws, there are still calls for amendments and repeals of certain controversial provisions of some laws. The number of Nigerian laws has remained on the increase, as necessity and demand that the law should evolve with the society.