Kefas Magaji

….Law Reform Commission holds stakeholders’ summit

The Federal Government has concluded plans for a wholesome revision of all laws in the country to ensure they are up to date and reflect current democratic realities.

The planned revision is also targeted at ensuring the production of smart and better laws that will aid the effective operation government and its agencies within the context of sound democratic culture based on the doctrine of rule of law.

Chairman, Nigerian Law Reform Commission (NLRC), Kefas Magaji, who made this public in Abuja on Wednesday, said his agency has scheduled a national summit on law reform for June 19 at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja to allow stakeholders contribute to how a thorough revision of the nation’s laws could be effected.

Magaji, who regretted that this revision was coming about 15 years after the last one took place in 2002, said the country has fallen behind the international best practices, requiring that countries undertake revision of their laws every 10 years.

He said the country’s delay in revising its laws has not only occasioned a “huge gap in the body of laws, it has negatively affected the smooth operation of government institutions and the effective administration of justice, particularly in terms of awareness, access, implementation, citation, referencing and use of extant laws.”

Magaji added that the need to undertake the revision was further informed by the current uncertainty about the state of the country’s laws, the authenticity of the copies on sale and the need to put them up to date.

He noted that, since the last revised laws were published in 2004, many of the 552 existing Acts of the National Assembly have either been further amended or repealed, with new ones enacted within the period.

According to Magaji, “it is imperative that these amendments and new laws be revised and incorporated into the laws of the federation of Nigeria to facilitate their effective use. There are also subsidiary legislation or regulations made pursuant to these laws that need to be brought into the body of laws in the revised edition.”

He also spoke about the worrying growing phenomenon of indiscriminate printing and sale of inaccurate and distorted versions of extant laws by private persons, a development, Magaji argued, was encouraged by the absence of a comprehensive and revised edition of the laws that could serve as a repository of all the country’s laws.

Magaji said the planned revision shall involve all federal enactments in force in the country and all subsidiary instruments made thereunder and in force; all laws that were omitted in the 2004 laws of the federation of Nigeria, and a table of contents, a chronological table of enactments and an index.

The NLRC boss said the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has agreed to attend the summit, which is expected to be attended by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, states’ Chief Judges, the Attorney General of the Federation and states’ Attorneys-General, among others.

He added that the summit is to afford stakeholders the opportunity to contribute to the revision exercise to avoid the mistakes of the past and ensure the production of a set of revised laws “that embody the exact laws of Nigeria that will engender the smooth and effective operation of all organs of government and the administration of justice.”

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