This essay examines the normative contemporary constitutional law question ‘how constitutionality of laws is controlled?’ under Ethiopian and Nigerian Federal Systems. In constitutional terms, both this question and federal systems require a written constitution that serve as a fundamental or basic law and placed hierarchically at the highest peak.
Federalism with written constitutions is one of the hallmarks of the Ethiopian and Nigerian political system. In both countries there are constitutionally entrenched distribution of powers between States and federal government to enact law, to execute and adjudicate as means of modern attempt to accommodate democratic complexity and pluralism. In exercising these constitutionally entrenched powers, the possibility of enacting inconsistent and ultra virus laws and hence, disputes regarding the constitutionality of laws is inevitable. The federal and state laws should be consistent not only with the terms and conditions of the federal constitution i.e. considered as a Basic Law but also should exist in harmony with each other. The settling of disputes concerning the constitutionality of laws is essential in federal systems and takes distinct form. Irrespective of its distinct form, the constitutionality of laws is one of the central problems of Constitutional Law that must be addressed in any federal states.
The objective of this essay is therefore; to compare how Ethiopia and Nigeria arrange the control of constitutionality of laws in their federal structure the aim of which is to guarantee and ensure the observance of hierarchy of legal norms and rule of law. In doing so, the essay is divided in to four sections. Section I explore the methods of controlling Unconstitutional Provisions and provide list of possible solutions for comparison. Section II demonstrates the general background and legal basis for application of control over unconstitutional provisions in Ethiopia and Nigeria. Section III compares the two countries method followed by conclusion under Section IV.