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Persons That Must Be Given Free Copies Of New Laws In Nigeria

Persons That Must Be Given Free Copies Of New Laws In Nigeria.  Daily Law Tips (Tip 613 ) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

For almost every thing in Nigeria, there is a law regulating it, although must of the laws are outdated. Nigeria is obviously in drought of recent/updated laws but not in lack of highly paid law makers and their impoverished legislative aids. The art of law making and publishing them are vested on some persons by law. A federal legislation (Acts Authentication Act) that has been in operation since 1st January 1962 regulates how federal laws that are made by the National Assembly are printed and circulated in Nigeria.

When a law is made by the National Assembly (at this stage it is still a BILL), duplicate copies of the bill and schedules showing the bill are sent to the President of Nigeria to assent (sign and put the public seal of the Federation) on it. After duplicate copies of a BILL are signed and sealed by the President of Nigeria, the BILL becomes a federal LAW (an ACT) 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.

Once an Act is numbered it must be immediately arranged in fair and legible type by the Government Printer and be 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.

Once printing is done, the Clerk of the National Assembly shall retain one copy for his records and deliver one copy to the President of Nigeria and the other copy to the Chief Justice of Nigeria to be enrolled in the Supreme Court. So, the Clerk of the National Assembly, the President of Nigeria and the Chief Justice of Nigeria are the persons that must be given free copies of every new federal law made in Nigeria.

In all the states in Nigeria, there are Authentication Laws, designed by states legislatures to be equivalents of the Acts Authentication Act. The Acts Authentication Act is over five (5) decades and its equivalents in states are quite old too. Obviously they all need to be amended to meet the realities of our present day society. There is need to add an additional duty to the statutory duties vested on the Clerk and Government Printer. This new duty will be to publish all exiting laws and new laws on a free to accessed online platforms. Laws should be publicized and freely made available to the people.

In Nigeria, there is no single comprehensive online depository of all laws of Nigeria; Pre-Independence to date. Whether this exists physical has been a huge debate. The website of the National Assembly is far from what it should be. I must commend the efforts of PLAC and other few law blogs that maintain deposits of recent laws made by the National Assembly. Ignorance of law is not an excuse but this must be where government ensures that copies laws are freely available. Legal Awareness has a huge impact on access to justice.


1. Sections 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the Acts Authentication Act, 1962.










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