16 Jan 5 Important Laws Every Nigerian Should know about
5 Important Laws in Nigeria
There are hundreds of laws in Nigeria, and it is almost impossible for the average Nigerian to keep up with all of them and know what every single one says about your rights and duties, so we decided to do the hard work for you! We have therefore created a list of some of the important laws Nigerians should know about.
1. The Constitution
This is the most important law in the country, it is the law from which all the other laws in Nigeria gain their validity. Therefore, this is one of the laws which you need to be aware of. The importance of this law is probably the reason why you hear people use the expression ‘that is unconstitutional’ so much, because if something is unconstitutional, it cannot stand. The constitution also contains all the fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens. If you want to know more about the Constitution, you can read our article here – 14 Things you should know about the Nigerian Constitution.
2. The Criminal Code/Penal Code
These laws are the where most (not all) of the criminal laws are, it contains provisions on what actions constitute a crime, and what the penalties are for committing the crimes. It contains crimes like murder, rape, armed robbery, fraud, witchcraft (yes, witchcraft is a crime in Nigeria) and much more. Some crimes have their own specific laws because of the importance or technical nature of those crimes e.g. money laundering is specifically criminalised under the Money Laundering Act. However, most of the laws are in either the Criminal Code or the Penal Code. The reason why there are two different laws is because the Criminal Code is for most of the States in Southern Nigeria, and the Penal Code is for most of the States in Northern Nigeria. There are certain key differences in the law which reflect the cultural differences between the Northern and Southern Nigeria
3. The Electoral Act
We have included this law because it is the law which regulates how elections are conducted in Nigeria. The law does not deal with the eligibility for office and terms of office of political office holders (that is contained in the Constitution) however it does contain all the other elements of the electoral process in Nigeria for example it deals with establishment of a National Voters register, and procedure for voters registration, directions on conducting political rallies and election campaigns, the establishment, staffing, and management of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), INEC is the organisation that conducts the elections in Nigeria.
4. The Labour Act
The Labour act is the primary legislation in Nigeria which deals with the relationship between an employer and its employees. It contains quite a number of provisions which govern this relationship, and also all the regulatory processes applicable for employers. Some important provisions in the Labour Act are provisions that employees must have a written contract and are entitled to payment of wages, provisions against forced labour, and issues like maternity leave. You can find out more about the Labour Act in our article- 9 Things Every Nigerian should know about the Labour Act
5. Land Use Act
The Land Use Act is the primary law in Nigeria that deals with the ownership and transfer of ownership in land. The law is quite unique in the sense that it is more ‘important’ than a regular law. Before this law can be amended or repealed there is a protracted process, in fact it can only be amended using the same procedure as would be followed in amending the Constitution. One of the important provisions in the Land Use Act is that all land is owned by the Government – that is why when you want to buy/sell land you need ‘Governor’s consent’.
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer. If you would like to find out more about a consultation with one of the lawyers in our network regarding a legal issue you are experiencing, you can use the free tool below to get an estimate.
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