Legislation may be described as law made deliberately in a set form by an authority which the courts have accepted as competent to exercise that function. A statute, may further defined as piece of legislation made by a law making body in a Government. It is the output of a legally constituted legislative body in a representative government.
In a democratic government. These functions exist:
1. The functions of interpretation which is within the precinct powers of the courts.
2. The functions of implementing these laws which is a prerogative of the Executive arm in the government.
3. The function of the making these laws which is bestowed on the parliament.
It is the output of this legislature or parliament that is called statute. In general terms and as a hallmark of democracy, legislation operates expost facto, in future and are usually couched in general terms. Legislations with retrospective force or one enacted for specific individuals are the exceptions rather than the norms.
Statute may take various forms and no statute may make itself immune from repeals as successive parliaments are not bound by statutory provisions against alterations abrogations or amendment of existing statutes. When a statute is severally amended, a CONSOLIDATING STATUTE is used to tidy up the statute book by re-enacting the Act as a compendium in a single Act embracing all amendment and supplements to the statute while disregarding repeals on it. A CODIFYING ACT on the other hand is a restatement of the law in a particular field in statutory form. It embraces not only previous statutory provisions but also formulations of common law doctrines derived from case law.
Statutory Law Or Legislation As A Source Of Nigerian Law
Statutes as a source of Nigerian Law can be divided into two broad categories. These are:
1. British Statutes
2. Nigerian Legislation
1. British Statutes
As the name implies, these are imperial statutes which were passed by the British Parliament.
Nigeria being a creation of Britain was for a large period before it attained independence governed by the British Government. Even before the creation in 1914 of the entity presently called Nigeria today, British influence was existing in the component areas of the present Federation of Nigeria. As early as 1960, British Colonialists had established pockets of administration in parts of the area known as Nigeria. These administrative units were regulated by laws passed by the British parliament directly from London. Apart from these imperial legislations, there existed another genre of British Parliament specifically for Nigeria, But Nigerian law makers by their own volition adopted and borrowed them.
In essence, British statutes that apply to Nigeria today are of two types, namely:
a. Imperial British Statutes: By imperial British statutes, we refer to those statutes made by the British Colonial Parliament.
b. Received English Statutes: Unlike imperial statutes, received English statutes became applicable to Nigeria by virtue of the fact that Nigerians made them so applicable.
2. Nigerian Legislations
This is another source and the most prominent source of statutes law in Nigeria. It refers to local statutes which were passed by our indigenous legislatures. Situations exist where local legislatures ably Nigeriansed all foreign statutes in operation within its jurisdiction. They thus became local legislations and no longer alien statutes.
Western Region legislature was the first to make such an innovatio. Between 1956 and 1959, twenty one imperial laws were enacted specifically as Western regional statututes. Those statutes were adaptations of existing pre-1900 English statutes of general application and amendments on them in England after 1900. Local situations were also taken into account before the statutes were re-enacted as laws of Western Region. By that fact, they now ceased being imperial statutes and turned into Nigerian legislations.
Constitutional history of Nigeria legislatures dates back to 1922. In 1952 regional legislatures were established in Nigeria following the constitutional development of 1951. Before then, Nigeria was governed as a single legislative unit. Following the amalgamation of 1914, each of the regions namely the Eastern Region, the Western Region and the Northern Region and the Central legislatures brought the total number of legislative houses in the country to four. All the pre-existing ordinances were still valid.