Who Must publish Laws in Nigeria and in what Quality? By Nnamseh Aniekan Aloysius

There are set of laws governing persons and affairs in Nigeria. The art of making laws and publishing them is also vested on some persons by law. A federal legislation, Acts Authentication Act, which has been in operation since 1st January 1962 regulates how federal laws made by the National Assembly are printed and circulated in Nigeria. See section 1(1) and (2) of the Acts Authentication Act 1962

By the 1962 federal law, when a law (at this stage it is still a Bill) is made by the National Assembly, copies of the bill and schedules showing the bill are made and are sent to the President of Nigeria for assent (the signing and impressing of the public seal of the Federation) on it. See section 58(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian 1999 (as amended)See also section 2(1) & (2) of the Acts Authentication Act 1962

As soon as the copies of a bill are signed and sealed by the President of Nigeria, the bill becomes law and a copy must be sent to the Clerk of the National Assembly. The Clerk must ensure that a copy is published in the Federal Gazette. And, a copy of a Federal Gazette is the final evidence of an enacted law. See section 3(1)(2) of the Acts Authentication Act 1962

Every Act when numbered must be  immediately arranged in fair and legible type by the Government Printer and must have been endorsed on the back that it is published by authority; and an impression in triplicate from the type set up shall be struck off by the Government Printer on vellum or on paper of an enduring quality. See section 5(1) of the Acts Authentication Act 1962

The  Clerk  of  the  National  Assembly  shall  retain  one  copy  for  his records  and  deliver  one  copy  to  the  President  and  the  other  copy to  the  Chief  Justice  of  Nigeria  to  be  enrolled  in  the  Supreme  Court. See section 5(2) of the Acts Authentication Act 1962

Every  Act  which  purports  to  be  published  by  authority  and  bears  a number  and  reference  to  a  year  and  a  date  of  commencement  or reference  to  a section  shall  be received  in all  Courts  and by  all persons as  sufficient  evidence  that  it  has  been  assented  to  in  the  President’s name. See section 6 of the Acts Authentication Act 1962

Across the states in Nigeria, there are  Authentication Laws, designed by states to be equivalents of the Acts Authentication Act. The Acts Authentication Act smells and speaks of its age. It is over five (5) decades old and its equivalents in states are quite old too.

Obviously, they need to be amended to meet the realities of our society. There is need to have a statutory duty vested on the Clerk and Government Printer to publish all laws on “free to access” online platforms. And, access should be free! 

It is disappointing that from pre-independence to date, there is no single comprehensive online depository of all the laws of Nigeria;  Whether there is a physical depository of all the laws of Nigeria has been a huge debate. 

The website of the National Assembly is far from what it should be. I must commend the efforts of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and other few law blogs maintaining deposits of recent laws made by the National Assembly. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse but this can only be after the government has made and ensures that copies of laws are available.

Nnamseh Aniekan Aloysius is a writer, a poet, motivator, author reseacher and the sole founder of “Wits Of The Law”.His area of interest are International Humanitarian Law (I.H.L), Criminal Litigation, Intellectual Property Law, Tax Law and Health Law.

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