The Republican Constitution of 1963 was essentially the 1960 independence constitution rewritten with some minor modifications, and it came into operation on the 1st of October, 1963. It was in a bid to change the dominance of external affairs of Nigeria by Britain that a new constitution call the Republican Constitution of 1963 was proposed and adopted in 1963. With is constitution, the Queen ceased to be the Head of state and the executive function of the various units of the federation was no longer vested on her. She was also no longer a part of the legislative house of the federation.
Under the new constitution, an elected president was substituted for the Queen as the Head of State. The judicial Service Commission was abolished and the president was empowered to appoint judges of the Supreme Court and those of the High Court of Lagos on the advice of the prime minister.
Thus, the Supreme Court now became the final court of appeal in Nigeria. The power to declare any federal or regional law unconstitutional if it is inconsistent with any provision of the constitution (judicial review) was granted to the Federal Supreme Court.
The emergency powers were also conferred on the federal government to declare state of emergency on any part of the country whenever there was war or serious crisis. Again, the constitution stipulated the procedure for the creation of new regions and the adjustment in the existing regional boundaries. It was in line with this procedure that the-Mid-western region was created in August, 1963.
Features of the Republican Constitution of 1963
- The President of the Senate acted as president in the absence of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria.
- The membership of the senate was increased from 44 to 56.
- The fundamental human rights of citizens were entrenched in the constitution.
- The act that established the constitution was passed by the Nigerian parliament.
- The Queen of England ceased to be the constitutional Head of state.
- The president was the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
- The president was empowered to appoint, transfer, promote and discipline judges on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
ADVANTAGE (MERIT) OF THE REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION OF 1963
- The imperial basis of the Nigerian constitution was abolished.
- The constitution was enacted by the Act of Nigerian Federal Parliament of 1963 which repealed the Nigerian Independence Act of 1960.
- It made the supreme court the highest court of appeal in Nigeria.
DISADVANTAGE (DEMERIT) OF THE REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION OF 1963
- It placed Nigeria under strong influenced of Britain, by allowing it to be a member of British Commonwealth.
- The constitution created difficulties in creating new states, thereby making one of the regions to be larger than the three (3) others put together.