Senior advocate wants Nigerian Law Reform Commission properly funded

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Mr Mohammed Ndarani, says the Nigerian Law Reform Commission (NLRC) should be properly funded to deliver on its mandate.

Ndarani said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.

He said that the commission should be enabled to deliver on its mandate by constantly researching, reviewing, and reforming laws in the land.

The NLRC has the responsibility to conduct research, take and keep under review, all federal laws, with a view to their systematic and progressive development and reform.

It is mandated to do so in consonance with the prevailing norms of Nigerian society, to codify such laws, eliminate anomalies, repeal obsolete, spent, and unnecessary enactments, reform procedural laws in consonance with changes within the machinery of administration of justice.

The Commission can also, among other means, perform its functions based on proposals for law reform made or referred to it by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) or the
National Assembly.

It can also, by its own initiative, propose a programme for examination of different branches of law for reform, and submit same to the Attorney-General and the National Assembly.

Ndarani said that the NLRC needed to be more proactive in addressing obsolete and outdated laws in the country.

He noted that the presence of obsolete sections and aspects of the nation’s laws was one of the major problems bedevilling its economic progress and development.

The senior advocate said that such laws do not have any practical relevance to the realities of today’s Nigeria but were still being relied upon as binding.

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‘The presence of laws which are not in alignment with the laws in operation in the countries with which we do business would defeat the intendment of such operations as it would erode the basis for such activity,’ he added.

According to him, such laws also erode and retard administration of justice based on the nature of
their prescriptions and fines imposed, when considered against present day realities.

‘Examples include Sections 210 (Witchcraft) and 370 (Bigamy) of the criminal Code Acts and criminal Code Laws of States.

‘Witchcraft Act stipulates that anyone caught practicing magic and witchcraft has committed an offence. The problem is how do you ascertain what is magic and witchcraft? No one has been tried and convicted of this offence till date.

‘Bigamy refers to the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another.

‘It applies to both men and women, especially under the Matrimonial Causes Act. No one has been successfully prosecuted on this offence since the law was made.

‘The legality and validity of this law is put to serious question in the light of cultural and Islamic values which support marriage to more than one wife at the same time”.

He, however, noted that only Lagos State had decriminalised bigamy, which meant that it was no longer a crime in Lagos State to marry
another woman/man, where there was an already existing valid statutory marriage.

He said although NLRC was established in 1979 to reform in consonance with changes within the machinery of administration of justice, it had not been able to achieve much in relation to the mandate.

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Ndarani said that dependence on obsolete and outdated laws limited development of the country.

‘The exclusivity of the rights vested on the federal government is what has made several states lazy as they just wait to receive and share monies accruing to them from the federal allocation every month.

‘These laws make us bound to misguided policies of exploitation, frustrate import – export substitution, and diversification drives,’ he said.

According to him, obsolete maritime laws in the country also result in huge losses.

He said that any law that does not reflect the realities of the present day, in science, technological development, cultural advanceme
nt should not be lavishly deployed.

‘This is one sure path to a better Nigeria and also a good path to pulling this country out of the woods,” the senior advocate said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria