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Nigeria's first constitution: Here is the story of how it was created.

Nigeria's first house of parliament

Provision for citizenship acquisition was made in the new constitution, as well as provision for constitution amendment.

On October 1st, 1960, Nigeria witnessed the result of her heroes tireless struggle, which was the manifestation of her independence from the yolk of British imperialism.

As in any country of the world, she had to have laid down laws, rules, and guidelines which were to be the rod and staff to the country.

It was the birthing of this process that brought about the 1960 independence constitution.

During the time, the Queen of England was still the head of state of Nigeria. She was represented by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Nigerian Governor-General, while Tafawa Balewa was the Prime Minister.

With the constitution, foreign influence on the Nigerian state was dealt its final blows. It took its basis from the 1954 constitution, but a number of changes were made.

Provision for citizenship acquisition was made in the new constitution, as well as provision for constitution amendment. 

Nomination formed the basis for appointing judges for the courts. And the highest court of appeal in Nigeria, according to this constitution, was the Privy Council located in London.


Here are the main features of the 1960 Independence Constitution

1. The independence constitution provided a democratic parliamentary system of government whereby the office of the head of State is different from the office of the head of government.

2. A federal system of government was retained.

3. Queen Elizabeth was still the Head of state, Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Governor – General, was a ceremonial Head of State representing the Queen until October 1st, 1963 when Nigeria became a republic State.

4. The prime minister was the Head of government and administration.

5. The constitution provided a bicameral legislature at the center, the Senate (upper house) and House of Representatives ( lower house).

6. The constitution provided a premier as the Head of the executive of each region.

7. The fundamental human rights of the citizens were entrenched in the constitution; in addition, the constitution defined who a citizen is and how to acquire citizenship.

8. The Constitution laid down the procedure for creating new regions.

9. It gave the federal government the power to declare a State of emergency in any part of the country.

10. The constitution divided the legislative powers of governments into three – exclusive list (Central government), concurrent list (both central and regional government) and residual list (local government).

11. The final Court of Appeal was the Privy Council in London.

12. The constitution also stated the procedure for the amendment of a constitution.

Also included in the 1960 Independence constitution were features such as:

1. The powers of Parliament to make laws.

2. Powers of Public Service Commission in relation to granting of pensions.

3. Powers, practice, and procedure of Federal Supreme Court.

4. Appeals to Federal Supreme Court from Sharia Court of Appeal and Court of Resolution.

Owing to the rigidity of the 1960 independence constitution, it was later replaced by the Republican constitution of 1963, which replaced the Governor-General appointed by the British monarch with a President elected directly by members of the Nigerian federal legislature.

This new constitution was passed into law on 1st October 1963 and it was in accordance with the constitutional conference that was held in Lagos between July 25 and 26, 1963.

It was this constitution that made provision for real independence in Nigerian.

With the removal of Queen Elizabeth as the head of state, the constitution provided the possibility for the president to be chosen by members of the National Assembly and House of Representatives through a secret ballot.

And as a result, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe became the president and commander in chief of the armed forces.

In addition, the constitution recognized the Supreme Court as the highest court of appeal in Nigeria and abolish the judicial service commission. 

Thus, the prime minister became the one appointing the judges.

The senate membership was increased to 56 from 44.  The house of representative was increased from 312 to 305 in other to accommodate the newly created midwestern region.

ALSO READ: A brief walk into the life of Nigeria's first president


Source: pulse.ng
Link: Nigeria's first constitution: Here is the story of how it was created.



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