*WHO MUST PUBLISH LAWS IN NIGERIA AND IN WHAT QUALITY?* Daily Law Tips (Tip 605) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

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There are set of laws governing persons and affairs in Nigeria. The art of making laws and publishing them are also vested on some persons by law. A federal legislation (Acts Authentication Act) that has been in operation since 1st January 1962 regulates how federal laws made by the National Assembly are printed and circulated in Nigeria.

By the 1962 federal law, when a law is made by the National Assembly (at this stage it is still a BILL), duplicate copies of the bill and schedules showing the bill are sent to the President of Nigeria to assent (sign and put the public seal of the Federation) on it. After duplicate copies of a BILL are signed and sealed by the President of Nigeria, the BILL becomes LAW and a copy must be sent to the Clerk of the National Assembly. The Clerk must ensure that a copy is published in the Federal Gazette. And, a copy of a Federal Gazette is the final evidence of an enacted law.

Every Act when numbered must be immediately arranged in fair and legible type by the Government Printer and have endorsed on the back that it is published by authority; and an impression in triplicate from the type set up shall be struck off by the Government Printer on vellum or on paper of an enduring quality.

Across States in Nigeria, there are Authentication Laws, designed by states to be equivalents of the Acts Authentication Act. The Acts Authentication Act smells and speaks of its age. It is over five (5) decades and its equivalents in states are quite old too. Obviously they need to be amended to meet the realities of our society. There is need to have a statutory duty vested on the Clerk and Government Printer to publish all laws on free to access online platforms. And, access should be free!

It is disappointing there is no single comprehensive online depository of all laws of Nigeria; from Pre-Independence to date. Whether this even exists physically has been a huge debate. The website of the National Assembly is far from what it should be. I must commend the efforts of PLAC and other few law blogs maintaining deposits of recent laws made by the National Assembly. Ignorance of law is not an excuse but this must be after government ensures that copies of laws are available.

My authorities are:

1. Sections 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the Acts Authentication Act, 1962.

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