The Nonstationary Nature of the Law

The Nonstationary Nature of the Law: PDP v. Degi-Eremienyo in Perspective.

S.T. Afolabi Esq.1


The Popular Cliché ‘change is constant’ no doubt portrays and accentuates the non-static nature of the Law and the Legal Profession. Right from the beginning of time, the Law has continued to catch up with or often times go ahead of the vicissitudes of Social change. This is important because any Law that does not synchronize with the changes in the society will in no distant time begin to lose legitimacy. This Article attempts to re-echo the decision of the Court on the new legal order for change of Name in the case of PDP v. Degi-Eremienyo2. The Article x-rails the notion of a Deed Poll, its functions etc. At the end, the article gives a draft of a Deed poll.


1 Samuel Oluwatobiloba Afolabi is a Legal practitioner with insatiable appetite for Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. His areas of Specialization include but not limited to Intellectual Property Law (I.P), Medical Law as well as Oil and Gas Law. +2348137377522. The Writer Acknowledges the contributions of and also gives credit to other authors specifically Prof. Y.Y. Dadem, Killi Nancwat Esq and UsgMu’d, whose ideas are shared in this Article.

2 (2021) NWLR 1781 @ p. 274


1.1 Introduction

Name is arguably one of the most crucial thing in the life of an individual. Even the Holy Bible3, as well as the Holy Qur’an Recognize this. After God had created man and other animals, The Bible Records it that God brought all the animals to man(Adam) to see the name he(Adam) will call them and whatsoever name he called them, that they are.4 A person’s name is very crucialas it is the person’s Identity.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Change remains the only constant factor in life, according to Charles Darwin of Blessed memory, “The strongest of the specie is the one that is most adaptive to change.” At one point or the other in human lives, there will always be a need to change one or more things, this goes no show that the place of change cannot be underestimated.

Change of name is one of those common instances that a legal personality be you natural or artificial may like undertake once or more in your life time. In the Corporate world, Artificial personalities such as companies change their names5, same applies to natural humans as well. One beautiful thing about is that the Law will always provide the Legal and Institutional pedestal upon which these changes can take place smoothly.

Change of name could take place for various reasons among which are:

  1. mistake on the part of the individual or third party
  2. prior use by another person. etc.

3 Philippians 2:9-10 of the Holy Bible.
4 Genesis 2:19 – 20
5 See the Provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 on change of names by Companies. etc.


Where these occur, the usual thing was to adopt legal means of either changing or rectifying the name. Prior to the decision of the Court in the case of PDP v. Degi-Eremienyo6, the normal thing to do was to approach the Court to either swear to an affidavit or have the name published in a newspaper to serve as notice of change of identity to members of the general public.

However, the case under review has now set the precedent that if such change of name must be made by an individual, it must be by a Deed Poll.

1.2 What is a Deed Poll?
A Deed Poll is a legal document that binds an individual to a particular course of action. The most

common use of a Deed Poll is to change a name. As a result, this is now the widely recognized term for the legal document that enables you to officially change names. More formally, it is known as a Deed of Change of Name, but the term Deed Poll is more commonly used throughout the United Kingdom. A Deed Poll, or Deed of Change of Name, commits a person who executes it to the following actions:

  •   Renouncing and abandoning the use of their former name(s)
  •   To use their new name(s) at all times
  •   To require everybody to address them only by their new name(s)When a Deed Poll document has been drawn up, it must be executed. This simply means that it is signed and dated in the presence of a witness. The person that witnesses the actions must meet the following requirements:6 Supra



  •   Be at least 18 years of age.
  •   Be known to you but be independent of you (e.g. not a family member).
  •   Not live at the same address as you.
  •   Be able to speak and read English. etc.It should be noted that Suitable witnesses could be a friend, a colleague, or a neighbor. A change of name is effective as soon as your Deed Poll is executed. At that point, you can officially update documents and records.

1.3 The Meaning of “Deed Poll”
Strictly speaking, a Deed Poll is not a legal contract because it binds only one person rather than two or more parties. The second way that it differs from a legal contract is that it expresses an intention rather than a promise. The term Deed is common to signed, written agreements that have been shown to all concerned parties. Poll is an old legal term referring to official documentsthat had edges cut (or ‘polled’) so that they were straight.

1.4 The Function of a Deed Poll
By Deed Poll, you can choose to change forenames, surnames, and middle names as well as being able to add and remove names. You can also rearrange current forenames or alter spellings. You can choose to change your name to almost anything, although there are several basic conditions that your new name must meet. Both adults and children’s names can be changed. However, to change a child’s name who is under 16 years of age, a person holding parental responsibility for them must apply and all those with parental responsibility must give their consent to the name change.

Upon execution, a Deed Poll enables you to formally change your name on official records such as your passport, driving license, tax and National Insurance records, bank and credit cards, etc. Since one of the declarations is to use your new name at all times, you must notify all organizations and departments that hold your details that your name is changed. Your birth certificate, marriage certificate, and educational certificates cannot be changed because thesedocuments are “matter of fact”. This means that they were correct at the time that they wereissued. However, under certain circumstances it is possible to change the name on a child’s birthcertificate.


By this deed of change of name made by myself the undersigned MR. NA ONLY YOU WAKA COME(NEW NAME) of No. 4. You wanna chill with the boys avenue (YOUR ADDRESS) formerly known as Mr. Derisssssss God ooooooo (OLD NAME).

Hereby declare as follows:

I absolutely and entirely renounce, relinquish and abandon the use of my former name of OLD NAME and assume, adopt and determine to take and use from the date hereof the name of NEW NAME in substitution for my former name of OLD NAME.

I shall at all times hereafter in all records, deeds, documents and other writings and in all actions and proceedings, as well as in all dealings and transactions and on all occasions whatsoever use and subscribe the said name of NEW NAME as my name, in substitution for my former name of OLD NAME so relinquished as aforesaid to the intent that I may hereafter be called, known or distinguished by the name of NEW NAME only and not by my former name of OLD NAME.

I authorize and require all persons at all times to designate, describe and address me by the adopted name of NEW NAME.

In witness whereof I have hereunto subscribed my adopted and substituted forenames of NEWORENAMES and my surname of NEW SURNAME and also my said former name of OLD NAME.

Dated this_____day of____________in the year______.

Signed as a deed
by the above named

NEW NAME ____________________________________

Formerly known as OLD NAME ____________________

In the presence of ______________________________

Address ______________________________________

Occupation ___________________________________

Witness signature ______________________________


  •   Y.Y. Dadem, Property Law Practice in Nigeria.
  •   Killi Nancwat, Property Law. NIGERIAN LAW SCHOOL 2018/2019 (ENUGU CAMPUS)
  •   Power Points on Property Law Practice, NIGERIAN LAW SCHOOL 2020/2021



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