1 Past constitutions
1.1 Colonial era (1914–1960) 1.2 constitutional independence (1960) 1.3 1963 constitution (First Republic) 1.4 1979 constitution (Second Republic) 1.5 1993 constitution (Third Republic) 1.6 1999 constitution (Fourth Republic)
2 See also 3 References 4 External links
Colonial era (1914–1960)
Nigeria's first constitutions were enacted by order in council during
the colonial era, when the country was administered as a Crown Colony.
The constitutions enacted during this period were those of 1913 (which
came into effect on 1 January 1914), 1922, 1946, 1951 and 1954.
In 1946 a new constitution was approved by Westminster and promulgated
in Nigeria. Although it reserved effective power in the hands of the
Governor-General and his appointed Executive Council, the so-called
33. (1) Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.
(2) A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section, if he dies as a result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably necessary -
(a) for the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for the defence of property: (b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of person(s) lawfully detained; or (c) for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.
34. (1) Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly -
(a) no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment; (b) no person shall he held in slavery or servitude; and (c) no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
(2) for the purposes of subsection (1) (c) of this section, "forced or compulsory labour" does not include -
(a) any labour required in consequence of the sentence or order of a
(b) any labour required of members of the armed forces of the
Federation or the
(i) normal communal or other civic obligations of the well-being of
(ii) such compulsory national service in the armed forces of the
Federation as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly, or
(iii) such compulsory national service which forms part of the
education and training of citizens of
35. (1) Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law -
(a) in execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a
criminal offence of which he has been found guilty;
(b) by reason of his failure to comply with the order of a court or in
order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation imposed upon him by
(c) for the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of the
order of a court or upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed
a criminal offence, or to such extent as may be reasonably necessary
to prevent his committing a criminal offence;
(d) in the case of a person who has not attained the age of eighteen
years for the purpose of his education or welfare;
(e) in the case of persons suffering from infectious or contagious
disease, persons of unsound mind, persons addicted to drugs or alcohol
or vagrants, for the purpose of their care or treatment or the
protection of the community; or
(f) for the purpose of preventing the unlawful entry of any person
(2) Any person who is arrested or detained shall have the right to remain silent or avoid answering any question until after consultation with a legal practitioner or any other person of his own choice. (3) Any person who is arrested or detained shall be informed in writing within twenty-four hours (and in a language that he understands) of the facts and grounds for his arrest or detention. (4) Any person who is arrested or detained in accordance with subsection (1) (c) of this section shall be brought before a court of law within a reasonable time, and if he is not tried within a period of -
(a) two months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who is in custody or is not entitled to bail; or (b) three months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who has been released on bail, he shall (without prejudice to any further proceedings that may be brought against him) be released either unconditionally or upon such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears for trial at a later date.
(5) In subsection (4) of this section, the expression "a reasonable time" means -
(a) in the case of an arrest or detention in any place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of forty kilometres, a period of one day; and (b) in any other case, a period of two days or such longer period as in the circumstances may be considered by the court to be reasonable.
(6) Any person who is unlawfully arrested or detained shall be entitled to compensation and public apology from the appropriate authority or person; and in this subsection, "the appropriate authority or person" means an authority or person specified by law. (7) Nothing in this section shall be construed -
(a) in relation to subsection (4) of this section, as applying in the
case of a person arrested or detained upon reasonable suspicion of
having committed a capital offence; and
(b) as invalidating any law by reason only that it authorises the
detention for a period not exceeding three months of a member of the
armed forces of the federation or a member of the
36. (1) In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.
(2) Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this section, a law shall not be invalidated by reason only that it confers on any government or authority power to determine questions arising in the administration of a law that affects or may affect the civil rights and obligations of any person if such law -
(a) provides for an opportunity for the persons whose rights and obligations may be affected to make representations to the administering authority before that authority makes the decision affecting that person; and (b) contains no provision making the determination of the administering authority final and conclusive.
(3) The proceedings of a court or the proceedings of any tribunal relating to the matters mentioned in subsection (1) of this section (including the announcement of the decisions of the court or tribunal) shall be held in public. (4) Whenever any person is charged with a criminal offence, he shall, unless the charge is withdrawn, be entitled to a fair hearing in public within a reasonable time by a court or tribunal: Provided that -
(a) a court or such a tribunal may exclude from its proceedings persons other than the parties thereto or their legal practitioners in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, the welfare of persons who have not attained the age of eighteen years, the protection of the private lives of the parties or to such extent as it may consider necessary by reason of special circumstances in which publicity would be contrary to the interests of justice; (b) if in any proceedings before a court or such a tribunal, a Minister of the Government of the Federation or a commissioner of the government of a State satisfies the court or tribunal that it would not be in the public interest for any matter to be publicly disclosed, the court or tribunal shall make arrangements for evidence relating to that matter to be heard in private and shall take such other action as may be necessary or expedient to prevent the disclosure of the matter.
(5) Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty; Provided that nothing in this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes upon any such person the burden of proving particular facts. (6) Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be entitled to -
(a) be informed promptly in the language that he understands and in detail of the nature of the offence; (b) be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence; (c) defend himself in person or by legal practitioners of his own choice; (d) examine, in person or by his legal practitioners, the witnesses called by the prosecution before any court or tribunal and obtain the attendance and carry out the examination of witnesses to testify on his behalf before the court or tribunal on the same conditions as those applying to the witnesses called by the prosecution; and (e) have, without payment, the assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand the language used at the trial of the offence.
(7) When any person is tried for any criminal offence, the court or tribunal shall keep a record of the proceedings and the accused person or any persons authorised by him in that behalf shall be entitled to obtain copies of the judgement in the case within seven days of the conclusion of the case. (8) No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed (9) No person who shows that he has been tried by any court of competent jurisdiction or tribunal for a criminal offence and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence or for a criminal offence having the same ingredients as that offence save upon the order of a superior court. (10) No person who shows that he has been pardoned for a criminal offence shall again be tried for that offence. (11) No person who is tried for a criminal offence shall be compelled to give evidence at the trial. (12) Subject as otherwise provided by this Constitution, a person shall not be convicted of a criminal offence unless that offence is defined and the penalty therefor is prescribed in a written law, and in this subsection, a written law refers to an Act of the National Assembly or a Law of a State, any subsidiary legislation or instrument under the provisions of a law.
37. The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected. 38. (1) Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
(2) No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if such instruction ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own, or religion not approved by his parent or guardian. (3) No religious community or denomination shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for pupils of that community or denomination in any place of education maintained wholly by that community or denomination. (4) Nothing in this section shall entitle any person to form, take part in the activity or be a member of a secret society.
39. (1) Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions: Provided that no person, other than the Government of the Federation or of a State or any other person or body authorised by the President on the fulfilment of conditions laid down by an Act of the National Assembly, shall own, establish or operate a television or wireless broadcasting station for, any purpose whatsoever. (3) Nothing in this section shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society -
(a) for the purpose of preventing the disclosure. of information
received in confidence, maintaining the authority and independence of
courts or regulating telephony, wireless broadcasting, television or
the exhibition of cinematograph films; or
(b) imposing restrictions upon persons holding office under the
Government of the Federation or of a State, members of the armed
forces of the Federation or members of the
40. Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate
with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any
political party, trade union or any other association for the
protection of his interests:
Provided that the provisions of this section shall not derogate from
the powers conferred by this
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society-
(a) imposing restrictions on the residence or movement of any person
who has committed or is reasonably suspected to have committed a
criminal offence in order to prevent him from leaving Nigeria; or
(b) providing for the removal of any person from
(i) be tried outside
42. (1) A citizen of
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application
of, any law in force in
(2) No citizen of
43. Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every citizen of
(a) requires the prompt payment of compensation therefore and (b) gives to any person claiming such compensation a right of access for the determination of his interest in the property and the amount of compensation to a court of law or tribunal or body having jurisdiction in that part of Nigeria.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall be construed as affecting any general law.
(a) for the imposition or enforcement of any tax, rate or duty; (b) for the imposition of penalties or forfeiture for breach of any law, whether under civil process or after conviction for an offence; (c) relating to leases, tenancies, mortgages, charges, bills of sale or any other rights or obligations arising out of contracts. (d) relating to the vesting and administration of property of persons adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt or insolvent, of persons of unsound mind or deceased persons, and of corporate or unincorporate bodies in the course of being wound-up; (e) relating to the execution of judgements or orders of court; (f) providing for the taking of possession of property that is in a dangerous state or is injurious to the health of human beings, plants or animals; (g) relating to enemy property; (h) relating to trusts and trustees; (i) relating to limitation of actions; (j) relating to property vested in bodies corporate directly established by any law in force in Nigeria; (k) relating to the temporary taking of possession of property for the purpose of any examination, investigation or enquiry; (l) providing for the carrying out of work on land for the purpose of soil-conservation; or (m) subject to prompt payment of compensation for damage to buildings, economic trees or crops, providing for any authority or person to enter, survey or dig any land, or to lay, install or erect poles, cables, wires, pipes, or other conductors or structures on any land, in order to provide or maintain the supply or distribution of energy, fuel, water, sewage, telecommunication services or other public facilities or public utilities.
(3) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, the
entire property in and control of all minerals, mineral oils and
natural gas in under or upon any land in
45. (1) Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society
(a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or (b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom or other persons
(2) An act of the National Assembly shall not be invalidated by reason only that it provides for the taking, during periods of emergency, of measures that derogate from the provisions of section 33 or 35 of this Constitution; but no such measures shall be taken in pursuance of any such act during any period of emergency save to the extent that those measures are reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation that exists during that period of emergency: Provided that nothing in this section shall authorise any derogation from the provisions of section 33 of this Constitution, except in respect of death resulting from acts of war or authorise any derogation from the provisions of section 36(8) of this Constitution. (3) In this section, a " period of emergency" means any period during which there is in force a Proclamation of a state of emergency declared by the President in exercise of the powers conferred on him under section 305 of this Constitution.
46. (1) Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any State in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress.
(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a High Court shall
have original jurisdiction to hear and determine any application made
to it in pursuance of this section and may make such orders, issue
such writs and give such directions as it may consider appropriate for
the purpose of enforcement or securing the enforcing within that State
of any right to which the person who makes the application may be
entitled under this Chapter.
(3) The Chief Justice of
(a) may confer upon a High Court such powers in addition to those conferred by this section as may appear to the National Assembly to be necessary or desirable for the purpose of enabling the court more effectively to exercise the jurisdiction conferred upon it by this section; and (b) shall make provisions-
(i) for the rendering of financial assistance to any indigent citizen
Nigerian military juntas of 1966–79 and 1983–98
http://nigerianfinder.com/historical-development-of-the-nigerian-constitution/ External links
Text of 1979 constitution (via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine) Text of the 1999 Constitution, which is currently still in force
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