Nigeria and the Riddle of Two Constitutions

Authors: Akintunde Emiola and Idowu A Akinloye

ISSN: 2521-5434
Affiliations: LLM, PhD, BL, JP, KSC, Retired Professor of Law and Former Dean of Faculties of Law, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma; Delta State University, Abraka, and Niger Delta University, Amassoma; B.Th, LLM, PhD, BL, Lecturer, Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Nigeria
Source: Africa Journal of Comparative Constitutional Law, 2021, p. 122 – 141


This article brings to the fore the problem of two constitutions (the 1963 and the 1999 Constitutions) coexisting in Nigeria. It argues that the ongoing debate on the need for Nigeria’s restructuring may not be resolved until this problem is addressed. By using a historical approach and an analytical research methodology, the article lifts the discourse about restructuring above mere political expediency to the realm of law, which is the only instrument for restructuring. The authors forcefully argue that the 1979 and 1999 Nigerian constitutions are “military unconstitutional constitutions” that lack legitimacy and legal validity. It submits that the 1963 Constitution, which made Nigeria a republican state, was never repealed but was used by the military to govern and it is, therefore, intact, unencumbered and operatable in the country. This paper argues that it is only after reverting to the 1963 Constitution that an honest and sincere search for a valid foundation upon which a truly federal, democratic and just Nigerian society can be built.