3 J.L. Pol'y & Globalization 1 (2012)

handle is hein.journals/jawpglob3 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization                                                      wwwiiste.org
ISSN 2224-3240 (Paper) ISSN 2224-3259 (Online)                                                         I
Vol 3, 2012                                                                                        II54

                                   Rule of Law in Nigeria

                                   Mohammed Mustapha Akanbi, Ph.D.
  Senior Lecturer, Department of Business Law, Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, Nigeria. Email Address:
                           laroungbegfyahoo.co.uk; GSM No. +23408033558277
                                        Ajepe Taiwo Shehu, Ph.D.
   Senior Lecturer, Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, Nigeria. Email Address:
               atshehu2000(vahoo cor, Ajeveunilorn.edu.ng; GSM No. +23408034810069

The rule of law is expected to be the guiding principle of governance since it is the foundation of good
governance. The experience in Nigeria is to the contrary as successive administration in the country often
violated the concept with carelessness and recklessness. This paper thus examines how the concept has suffered
in the hands of the administrations using doctrinal and analytical synthesis of events. It is the concern of the
paper that successive military administrations in the country and democratic ones have not done better thus
putting a big question mark on their democratic credentials. It is most certain that unless the political leadership
in the country see itself as a creation of the law and must thus be guided by the law, the rule of law would
continue to suffer in their hands. Also, the judiciary must be accorded absolute autonomy from the other arms of
the government.
Keywords: Rule of Law, Nigeria, Military, Democratic governance, Constitution

I. Introduction
The meaning or content of the concept of the rule of law vary from place to place, and from earlier times. To
Aristotle, the rule of law is preferable to that of any individual, while Bracton, writing in the 13th century
adopted the theory generally held in the middle ages that the world was governed by laws, human or divine and
that the king himself ought not to be subject to man, but subject to God and to the law, because the law makes
him king. Anthony Mathew (1988: 219) summarized the doctrine of the rule of law as:
    a.       that the law touching on the basic rights of citizens shall be narrowly and precisely drafted so as to
             constitute a clear guide to official actions and citizens' conduct; and
    b.       that the application and interpretation of such laws shall be under the control of impartial courts
             operating according to fair procedures
The rule of law simply means that law rules or reigns (Nwabueze, 2007: 3-8). This presupposes a situation where
everything is done in accordance with law thereby excluding any form of arbitraries (Nwabueze, 2007: 3-8). The
concept as we understand it and adopted in developed societies; where democracy has long been a way of life of
the people and where despotism or dictatorship is no longer the other of the day, implies and equally connotes
that the citizens in relationship amongst themselves inter se and with the government bodies and their agencies
shall be beholden unto the law which shall not be ignored by anyone except at his peril, and if by the
government, this will promote anarchy and executive indiscipline capable of wrecking the organic framework of
the society (Pat-Acholonu, 1995: 43-47). It is a way of preventing the abuse of discretionary power. It accords
with the dictates of reason that the court should use its awesome power to make the government of the day rule
by principles recognized in civilized societies and bound by the pronouncements of the courts (Pat-Acholonu,
1995: 43-47).i

The very first attempt to reduce the idea of the rule of law to precise legal form was by Professor A. V. Dicey in
his lecture on English Law at the University of Oxford in 1885. According to him, the doctrine of the rule of law
has three aspects; first, it means the absolute supremacy or predominance of regular law as oppose to the
influence of arbitrary powers ... Liversidge v Anderson (Appeal Cases, 1942: 206). The courts in Nigeria have
also adhered to the principle (Mohammed Oluyori and Other, 1996: 69). Secondly, it means equality before the
law, or the equal subjection of all classes to ordinary of the land administered by the ordinary law courts. Simply
put, this means any person irrespective of his rank and status in life is subject to the ordinary law of the land.

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