CAN LAW BE USED AS AN EFFECTIVE INSTRUMENT FOR CHANGE IN NIGERIA TODAY?

Lawsanaid
7 min readJul 24, 2022
Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

INTRODUCTION

When a writer offers an article to the general public on a subject which he has knowledge of, he is bound by literal justice to inform his readers specifically what he intends to achieve and how he intends to achieve it. Ipso facto, I am literally bound to explain the above topic in such a way that it can be appreciated by my readers. This academic voyage seeks to know how Nigerian laws operate and the effectiveness of the law.

THE NATURE OF LAW: AN EXPOSITION

The term ‘Law’ has been defined differently by many writers. Thus, there is no definite or conclusive definition. Roscoe Pound studied the term ‘Law’ and thus came up with his own definition of law. He considered the law to be predominantly a tool of social engineering, where conflicting pulls of political philosophy, economic interests and ethical values constantly struggle for recognition. Oliver Wendell Holmes, a proponent of the realist school of thought, defines law as a statement of circumstances in which public force will be brought to bear upon through courts.

Law has many sources, however It is pertinent to explain the processes of law-making in Nigeria as it relates to legislation. Firstly, there are three arms of government — the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. Generally, law-making starts from the legislature as a bill. This bill passes various legislative processes. Upon the completion of the above processes, the said bill passes to the president for assent and when assented to by the president, it becomes a law and it will be subject to the interpretation of the judiciary. See section 58 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.

Narrowing the above down to the Nigerian system, first, the constitution is the grundnorm from which all other laws derive their validity. Being the grundnorm, sections 4, 5, 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999, vest the legislative powers of the National Assembly, the executive powers of the president and the judicial powers of the courts. Nigeria being a federal system with various states, section 4(6) vests the legislative power of a state on the State Houses of Assembly. Similarly, subsection 2 of section 5 of CFRN vests the executive power of a state on the governor of that state and the judicial power of the state is vested on the court of that state [section 6(2) of CFRN 1999].

LAW AS AN AGENT OF CHANGE IN OUR PRESENT NIGERIA

There are many illegalities and criminalities ravaging the Nigerian state today, the notorious ones being the act of terrorism, advance fee fraud, popularly known as ‘yahoo’, kidnapping, robbery and drugs-related offences.

Law being the livewire of a state, the above acts of criminality have been made an offence by various substantive laws in Nigeria today. The principle Acts that criminalize these acts are the Criminal Code (1990) in the South and the Penal Code in Northern Nigeria. These Acts are adopted by the various states of the federation as law. Other Acts or laws that prohibit the aforementioned acts of criminality include: Terrorism Act (2011), EFCC Act, Robbery and Firearms Special Provisions Act, NDLEA Act, Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law, Enforcement and Administration Act 2003, and other relevant laws that criminalize the aforementioned acts.

Law being an instrument for social engineering, sufficient provisions have been made to protect the Nigerian state and her citizens. Section 20 of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law (Enforcement and, Administration Act), provides that, any person who kidnaps, abducts or by deceitful means lures any person away in order that such person may be killed for any purpose, commits an offence and is liable for conviction. The above Law was specifically made to curb the act of kidnapping and abduction in Nigeria. Other similar provisions include: Section 364 of the Criminal Code, Section 273 of the Penal Code and Section 1 of the Robbery and Firearms Special Provision Acts.

These acts of robbery, abductions, terrorism and advance fee fraud are not the only criminal acts ravaging Nigeria today. There are other acts criminalized by various laws in Nigeria, but for the fact that such other acts are not so notorious, let us limit our discussion to the ones mentioned in this article.

Now, are the above mentioned laws effective in Nigeria today? Law is like a light and in the absence of it, there will be darkness, and darkness is notoriously associated with evil, even the holy books affirm this.

Assuming that the aforementioned acts in this article were not criminalized by our laws today, then, the contrary will be the answer, and Nigerians will see it as a legitimate act.

Relying on the provisions of the laws mentioned in this article, so many arrests have been made and some successfully prosecuted in law courts. On 14th April 2022, The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) stated that, owing to its intensified war against illicit drug trafficking and abuse across Nigeria, no less than six hundred and seventy-seven (677) traffickers have been convicted and sentenced to various jail terms, between January and March, 2022.

Within the said period, over three thousand (3000) traffickers were arrested, sixty-five thousand, nine hundred and fifteen kilograms (65,915kg) of hard drugs seized by the said body, and this was made pursuant to the provisions of the NDLEA Act. The majority of the arrests made were in Katsina State. The most significant of all drugs related arrests, was the arrest of the disgraced Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari, who is currently in detention.

Moving on, robbery , kidnapping and terrorism are other notable criminal acts ravaging the Nigerian state today mentioned in this article. The Nigeria Police Force has intensified efforts to curb the said acts. On 27th May 2022, the Nigeria Police Force through its spokesman disclosed to the general public that, fifty-seven thousand, six hundred and ninety six (57,696) cases were being prosecuted in court, adding that, sixteen thousand, four hundred and sixty three (16,463) have been convicted successfully for these aforementioned acts.

Recently, Anambra State was being ravaged by these monsters until the law took its course on them. During that period, many of them were arrested and are being prosecuted in court today. Many houses used for these illegal acts were demolished, the recent one was the demolition of a bungalow building in Oba, Idemmili south LGA, Anambra State on 11th June, 2022. There, many of these monsters were arrested and are being prosecuted in court. The most significant arrests made during this trying moment in Anambra State, was the arrest of Chukwujekwu Onuorah (popularly known as Egbe-Ejiejeogu), younger brother to popular Egedege queen, Theresa Onuorah. He was arrested for allegedly kidnapping and subsequent beheading of Anambra lawmaker, Hon. Okechukwu Okoye and being prosecuted in court for such illegal act.

Moving forward, advance fee fraud (yahoo) is another notorious illegality going on in Nigeria. In an attempt to curb this act, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) empowered by the provisions of EFCC Act has intensified its efforts against these fraudsters. Between January and June 2022, many of these fraudsters were arrested and are being prosecuted in court and some successfully convicted. Recently, on 9th June, 2022, no fewer than, one hundred and forty (140) suspected internet fraudsters were arrested in Lagos State. Some of the above persons have been charged to court. Other arrests were also made in different parts of Nigeria within the above period.

The facts presented and analysed above show that operatives of the NDLEA alone arrested over three thousand (3000) drug traffickers, six hundred and seventy seven (677 successfully convicted, which is less than 23% of the persons arrested. Equally, men of the Nigeria Police Force arrested fifty-seven thousand, six hundred and ninety-six (57,696) persons for various crimes. These persons have been charged to court with only sixteen thousand, four hundred and sixty three (16,463) successfully convicted which is less than 30% of the persons arrested.

Relying on the above facts, can one really affirm the effectiveness of Nigerian laws? If the answer is contrary to the above, what will become of the Nigerian state. Does the statistics show the effectiveness of our laws?

CONCLUSION

We can see from the statistics available to us that law can be used as an effective instrument for change in Nigeria today but that the Nigerian laws are not absolutely effective in delivering justice, as a result of slow pace in our judicial system and the inconsistency of authorities in handling issues regarding to law violation. Thus, there are lots of rooms for improvement, amendments and retraining of the modus operandi of handling law issues.

Ogolo Emmanuel Jideofor
08161587745
400 level Law Student,
Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.[i]

[i] Reference; NDLEA arrested over three thousand (3000) drug traffickers and six hundred and seventy-seven (677) successfully convicted. This was reported by the vanguard newspaper, 13th April,2022.

The Nigerian Police Force arrested fifty-seven thousand, six hundred and ninety-six, (57,696) suspects, and sixteen thousand, four hundred and thirty-three were convicted by the court, also reported by the Vanguard Newspaper, 27th May, 2022.

On 11th June, 2022, the Anambra Broadcasting Services (ABS), reported that the Joint Task Force (JTF), demolished a structure in Oba, Idemmili South Local Government used by kidnappers to hide their victims. One hundred and forty (140) internet fraudsters (Yahoo Boys were arrested ) by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 11th June, 2022, as was reported by the Guardian Newspaper.

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