Judicial Review and Judicial Supremacy: a Paradigm of Constitutionalism in Nigeria.

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A.T.Shehu, PhD(

This paper examines judicial review and judicial power in Nigeria under the 1999 Constitution in relation to the constitution itself and in relation to the political branches of government. This is essentially to locate where lays supremacy between the branches and the judiciary particularly the Supreme Court with its final appellate jurisdiction. Judicial review and supremacy of the judiciary had been of recurring academic discuss in some jurisdictions with written Constitutions, particularly the United States from where Nigeria largely borrowed its presidential constitutionalism. This thus suggests that there is a need to
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They are thus not preclusive or exclusive to any particular race, tribe or nation. The question then arises as to where actually lay the supremacy8 among the organs of government that are created by the positive constitution. Is it also in the constitution that ascribes supremacy to itself or that the people themselves have vested with superiority?9 Superiority must be understood in its normative nature and therefore be categorized into two; that is political and legal. It is political if it does not have finality of authority and legal if it has finality of authority. This may for proper understanding be further characterized into general in the sense that it has the final authority and specific because its authority can be called to question by the overriding authority. This paper addresses these questions and others and argues that supremacy, especially legal and general, is a complex matter and can not be located in the Constitution alone or in any organ other than the judiciary that has the final authority as far as interpretation of the laws and the constitution is concerned. The Constitution is nothing, like any statute, but whatever the court makes of it by its (court) interpretation; whatever the court says the Constitution is; it is and nothing more. Although the judiciary is a creation of the constitution and positively granted powers, which in the end transcend the constitution itself,10 it through its power of review or the interpretative

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