Who & How To Change Names of States and Local Government Areas.

Who & How To Change Names of States and Local Government Areas.

Who & How To Change Names of States and Local Government Areas. Daily Law Tips (Tip 824) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb (UK)

Introduction:

Since change is the only thing that does not change, the names of States or Local Government Areas in Nigeria may need to change, someday. While the heads of Local Government Councils may change the names of streets, and junctions, with ease, how can the names of States and Local Government Areas in Nigeria be changed? Also, who can make such changes? These questions will be answered in this work, using (statute)laws and the judgments of the court (Supreme Court of Nigeria).

A. Statute:

  1. The greatest of all laws in Nigeria and the world is the Constitution of Nigeria. Hence it overrules all other laws and policies, so far as Nigeria is concerned. Expectedly, the Constitution also provides the lawful process for the amendment of any matter contained in the Constitution. Also, the Constitution invalidates and nullifies any attempt to amend it (the constitution) outside the laid down procedures.
  2. Among the contents of the Constitution is the Supremacyof the Constitution (Section 1); nature and status of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Section 2); Creation of 36 states and 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria (768 Local Government Areas in the 36 the States and 6 Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory) and the list of their respective names, headquarters and coverage (Section 3 and Parts I and II of the First Schedule to the Constitution. Also, the powers of the federal legislature to make laws for Nigeria and the state legislatures to make laws for their respective state (Section 4); the Power of the Executive to implement the laws made by the legislatures (Section 5) and the powers of the Judiciary tointerpret laws made by the Legislature (Section 6). It also covers the powers and functions of the Local Governments across Nigeria (Section 7); How to create a new state and manage boundaries (Section 8) and the mode for altering the constitution (Section 9).
  3. Section 8 of the Constitution is very important to “Changing State and Local Government Names”. It provides (in Section 8[5]) that it is by a federal law made by the federal legislature that there can be a change to the names and headquarters of States and Local Governments in Nigeria, contained in section 3 of the Constitution and Parts I and II of the First Schedule to the Constitution.
  4. It is important to note that by Section 8 of the Constitution, only the federal legislature can create a new state, adjust the boundary of a state or change the names or headquarter of a state, through rigorous legislative processes that involve both the federal and state legislators (as well as citizens).
  5. By Section 8[3] and [4] of the Constitution, the State Legislators can create Local Government Areas and adjust the boundaries of Local Government Areas, through a legislative process that engage the State legislators and members of Local Government Council and the citizens. However, Section 8(5) and (6) provide that it is by the same rigorous process of creating states, that the federal legislator will employ to make a consequential law for the names and headquarters of States or Local Government Areas in Nigeria. Hence, State Legislators are to submit their changes on Local Governments to the Federal legislators for the same to be added to the list of States and Local Governments in Nigeria, through a federal law that will pass the rigorous legislative procedure.
  6. Although section 9 of the Constitution provides for the amendment of the Constitution generally, it could have been the procedure for changing the names of States and Local Government Areas in Nigeria. However, section 8 is more specific and covering on the subject matter, hence, section 8 of the Constitution is the right procedure for changing the name of a State or Local Government in Nigeria.
  7. By the way, the naming of Streets in any part of Nigeria is within the powers of the Local Government Councils (and the Area Councils in the FCT) and does not fall within the purview of the federal and state legislators. Section 7 of the Constitution and the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution of Nigeria is clear on this issue.

 B. Case Law (Judgments of Courts):

  1. The courts in Nigeria have lent their voices to the process and procedure for the creation of states and local government areas (and by extension the change of names of States and Local Government Areas).
  2. In the case of Attorney- General of Lagos State vs Attorney-General of the Federation (2004) (2004) LPELR-10(SC) the Supreme Court of Nigeria reiterated that the creation of Local Government of Areas by State Legislatures cannot be complete without the submission of names to the federal legislature for it to make federal laws that include the names in the list of names of local governments in Nigeria.
  3. Since the commencement of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 29 May 1999, there has not been a successful lawful change to the name or headquarter of any State and Local Government in Nigeria. Although, there have been several cases of States that created unconstitutional entities (often titled; Local Council Development Areas (LCDA), and Local Government Development Centres) to increase/augment their local government coverage.

C. Conclusion:

  1. Names of States and Local Governments in Nigeria are contained in the Constitution of Nigeria and as such, they are part of the Constitution. To change, alter, amend, add or remove from the list of the names of the States and Local Governments in Nigeria is to amend and alter the Constitution of Nigeria.
  2. However, instead of running through the provisions of section 9 of the Constitution on how to amend the constitution, there are specially laid down procedures for the creation of States, Local Governments and by extension, for changing the names of States and Local Governments in section 8 of the Constitution.
  3. Hence, any change of names of states or local government must be as dictated by the Constitution of Nigeria for such change to be constitutional, valid and lawful. Also, any change in the names of state or local governments without strict adherence to the constitution of Nigeria is inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria and as such nullified (dead on arrival).

Authorities:

  1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 318, 319 and 320 as well as the First and Fourth Schedules to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  2. Judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (on the unconstitutionality of dissolution of local government councils) in the case of HON. CHIGOZIE EZE & ORS v. GOVERNOR OF ABIA STATE & ORS (2010) LPELR-4133(CA)
  3. Judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (on the definition of “Government”) in the case of THE GOVERNOR OF KWARA STATE & ORS v. JEROME OLADELE DADA (2011) LPELR-8132(SC)
  4. Judgment of the Court of Appeal (on whether the State Government has the power to dissolve a Local Government Council) in the case of ETIM A. AKPAN & ORS v. HON PETER JOHN UMAH & ORS (2002) LPELR-7099(CA)
  5. Onyekachi Umah, “Any Law Sacking Local Government Chairmen Is Illegal; The Theory of ‘Ekere Oru Eke’” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 26 February 2021) <https://sabilaw.org/any-law-sacking-local-government-chairmen-is-illegal-the-theory-of-ekere-oru-eke/> accessed 23 September 2021.
  6. Onyekachi Umah, “Constitutional Powers and Functions Are Not Enough Powers for Any Local Government Council In Nigeria to Act And Exercise” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 22 May 2018) <https://sabilaw.org/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-106-constitutional-powers-and-functions-are-not-enough-powers-for-any-local-government-council-in-nigeria-to-act-and-exercise/> accessed 12 February 2021.
  7. Onyekachi Umah, “Radio, Television And Communication Mast License Fee By Local Governments In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 5 March 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/radio-television-and-communication-mast-license-fee-by-local-governments-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-519-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 12 February 2021
  8. Onyekachi Umah, “List and Details of Approved Local Government Levies, Rates, Fees and Charges for Edo State” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 27 April 2019) <https://sabilaw.org/list-and-details-of-approved-local-government-levies-rates-fees-and-charges-for-edo-state-daily-law-tips-tip-423-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk-2/> accessed 12 February 2021.
  9. “Free Copy of “Edo State Local Governments Uniform and Harmonised Levies, Rates, Fees and Charges Law, 2017” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 25 September 2019) <https://sabilaw.org/free-copy-of-edo-state-local-governments-uniform-and-harmonised-levies-rates-fees-ad-charges-law-2017/> accessed 12 February 2021.
  10. Onyekachi Umah, “State Governments Cannot Collect Tenement Rates In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 6 March 2019) <https://sabilaw.org/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-282-state-governments-cannot-collect-tenement-rates-in-nigeria/> accessed 12 February 2021
  11. Onyekachi Umah, “No Person/Firm Can Collect Tax/Levy On Behalf Of Any Government In Any Part Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 2 March 2019) <https://sabilaw.org/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-279-no-person-firm-can-collect-tax-levy-on-behalf-of-any-government-in-any-part-nigeria/> accessed 12 February 2021.
  12. Onyekachi Umah, “Latest Developments On Liquor Licenses In Karu LGA, Nasarawa State” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 28 February 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/latest-developments-on-liquor-licenses-in-karu-lga-nasarawa-state-daily-law-tips-tip-515-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 12 February 2021.
  13. Onyekachi Umah, “Any Appointment of Local Government Chairmen Is Unlawful” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 12 February 2021) <https://sabilaw.org/any-appointment-of-local-government-chairmen-is-unlawful/> accessed 25 February 2021.

 

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