A constitution may be defined as the whole body of fundamental laws, customs, conventions, principles, rules and regulations according to which a particular government of a country or an organization operates.
SOURCES OF CONSTITUTIONS
1) Past Experiences: The political, social, economic, geographical and historical experience of a country serves as major sources of its constitution.
2) Historical Documents: Documents such as treaties, the Magna Carta 1215, Bill of Rights1689 and the Constitution Reform Bills of 1832 all in Britain serves as the sources of its laws.
3) Act of Parliament or Statutes: These are bills passed into law in the parliament.
4) Decrees: Laws made by military governments in many countries where they seize power and made through the promulgation of decrees serves as sources of constitution.
5) Intellectual Works: Works of intellectuals such as Locke, Marx, Hobbes, Dicey and other recent and present ones are useful for drafting constitutions.
6) Customs and Norms: The usual and generally accepted behaviour and ways of living of a people serve as an important source of their constitution.
7) Judiciary Precedents: These are previous or earlier and important judgments passed and decisions taken in higher courts like Supreme Court etc.
8) Conventions: These are precepts or rules and guides for behaviour which are not written down with which people show their disapproval when violated.
9) Constitutional Conference: Constitutional conferences that were held in London and West Africa before granting independence to Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra-Leone and Gambia served as the major source for the drafting of their Independent Constitutions.
10) International Laws: International laws are the ones made by international organizations like United Nation, International law of the seas, International Civil Aviation Convention etc. serves as sources of constitutions.
FUNCTIONS OF CONSTITUTIONS
1) Constitutions specifies the modus operandi of a government or an organization.
2) It states the ideological direction of any government.
3) It performs the function of stating the type of party system that a country will operate.
4) It stipulates the rights and duties of citizens.
5) Constitutions serves as a symbol of nationhood and sovereignty.
6) Constitutions prevents leaders from becoming too powerful and dictatorial.
TYPES OF CONSTITUTIONS
A) WRITTEN CONSTITUTION: It refers to when the whole body of fundamental laws, customs, conventions, principles, rules and regulations according to which a particular government of a country operates are written or documented down. It can be found in a single document.
FEATURES OF A WRITTEN DOCUMENT
i) It is written or documented in a single document.
ii) It has a preamble or introduction which expresses the essence of the constitution.
iii) It is rigid in nature.
iv) It states and defines the organs of government, their functions and relationship.
B) UNWRITTEN CONSTITUTION: It refers to when the whole body of fundamental laws, customs, conventions, principles, rules and regulations according to which a particular government of a country operates are not written or codified in a single document.
An unwritten constitution is not synonymous with non-existent laws but what it means is that these laws, customs etc. cannot be obtained from one single book or document.
C) RIGID CONSTITUTION: It may be defined as that constitution which cannot be amended or changed easily because of its special stringent and cumbersome procedures of amendment.
Rigid constitutions are normally written constitutions but not all written constitution are rigid. Not all sections of a rigid constitution are difficult to amend.
D) FLEXIBLE CONSTITUTION: It may be defined as that constitution which can be amended or changed easily without stringent and cumbersome procedure. It can be amended with the same procedure used in making ordinary law. Some flexible constitutions are written while others are unwritten.
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