EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW
Again the rule of law means equality before the law. That is a legal system devoid of favoritism or differential treatments. It demands that all persons should be equal and subject to the same law of the land. Nobody no matter how highly placed is above the law. The rule of law maintains that there should be one and the same law for all and sundry that is the law should apply both to the rulers and the subjects in the same way. This should be so unless in certain situations where privileges or immunities are conferred on specified public officers by the constitution or other laws. There should be no special court for special people or government officials.
Equality before the law also means that the state should not be given advantages over ordinary citizens. Litigations as to the legality or otherwise of decisions acts or omissions of government officers shall be decided by the impartial law court which is independent of the executive. Thus, section6(6)(b) of the 1999 constitution provides that judicial powers shall “ extend to all matters between persons or between government or authority and any person in Nigeria and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligation of that person”. The law is even-handed between the citizens and the State. As can be gathered from section 6(6)(b) above and from section 46(1), any person who thinks that any of his fundamental rights has been, is been or likely to be violated by government officials – be it members of the executive, legislative or judiciary- can go to court for appropriate remedy or remedies. The said right of individuals to institute legal actions against the state is one of the outstanding elements in the concept of rule of law in Nigeria.
Equality before the law is a very important issue in today’s political world.