The Importance of Law (Legal Back Up) to an Individual, Organization and Economy of a Country at Large

I wish to express my gratitude to the WORLD LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE, the organizers of this programme for giving me the privilege and opportunity to discuss the above named topic. It is often said that there is no better test of the excellence of a government than the efficiency of its leaders, hence this programme; Leadership Training and Career Development is relevant in this period of the political dispensation of our country, Nigeria.

I am indebted to the Almighty God who has laid it upon your hearts as youths to know the importance of good leadership. One of the major problems and serious hindrances to actualising our potentials as developing countries is bad leadership. A nation cannot rise or grow beyond the level of its leadership .Thus nations that have bad leaders are often seen to be grossly underdeveloped.

The importance of law as a regulating instrument in the lives of an individual, organization and the economy of a country at large can not be over emphasised. The Almighty God himself recognises the importance of law in the regulation of human life for optimal performance when he said in Genesis chapter 2 verse 17 that “…of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it;

And the sanctions for breaching such a rule was pronounced in the same Genesis chapter 2 verse 17(b) where the Lord said, “ for in the day that thou eatest thereof; thou shall surely die.”

THE QUESTION THAT THEN ARISES IS WHAT IS LAW? In the simplest form, law is a set of rules by which a society is governed. It is a body of rules to guide human action.

And according to Wilson (a legal exponent) it is that portion of the established thought and habit which has gained distinct and formal recognition in the shape of uniform rules backed by the authority and power of government. In the words of Roscoe Pound, an American jurist, law is the “body of principles recognised or enforced by public and regular tribunals in the administration of justice”; while Green says it is “the system of rights and obligations which the state enforces”.

Salmond, another jurist on the other hand describes it as “the body of principles, recognised and applied by the state in the administration of justice”.

Lending credence to the application of and administration of law is the “RULE OF LAW”. This concept ensures that: - No man is above the law and no man is punishable except for a distinct breach of the law, established in the ordinary legal manner before the courts, and - Equality before the law, or the equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law of the land administered by the ordinary law court.

Basically, laws relating to civil and criminal wrongs are made either by the legislative houses/National or state assemblies in the form of Acts or laws or by the judges, and are called case laws or common law. These case laws or common laws are made as judges decide cases and state the principles on which they are basing their decisions. The accumulation of these principles constitutes a body of law.

There are various types of law with distinctive features and functions. Thus we have;

CONTRACT LAW This regulates everything on trading and business.

PROPERTY LAW These are rights and obligations related to the transfer and title of personal and real property.

TRUST LAW This applies to assets held for investment and financial security, while tort law allows claims for compensation if a person’s right or property are harmed

CRIMINAL LAW This offers means by which the state can prosecute the perpetrator.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW This provides a frame work for the creation of law, the protection of human right and the election of political representatives.

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW This is used to review the decision of government agencies.

INTERNATIONAL LAW This governs affairs between sovereign states in activities ranging from change to environmental regulation or military action.

FAMILY LAW This helps to regulate family norms, beliefs and ideologies.

Law and order is essential in all communities. In recognition of this law, the psalmist said in the book of psalm 119 v.165 that “Great peace has those who love your law and nothing causes them to stumble.”

In an orderly law abiding -community, people can plan ahead, work in safety, and do business in trust. In most modern societies, order means stability and the guarantee of this order takes place in the form of laws.

In line with the topic I have been given, I shall discuss one after the other, the importance of law to an individual, organization and the economy of a country at large; showing clearly, how law has succeeded in reconciling these various interests. First is the individual

WHO IS AN INDIVIDUAL? According to the Longman dictionary of contemporary English, the living dictionary, an individual is a person considered separately from the rest of the group or society that they live in. An individual is also a person of a particular kind. And in the book of Genesis chapter 1 verse 27, GOD created them man and woman; two separate and distinct individuals. However, in law, a fully registered company is deemed an individual being. It can sue and be sued, own properties and so on.

By its very nature, an individual requires the assistance of the law to compel, aid, and lure him into conforming to societal norms, culture and belief. It has been discovered that an individual if left unguarded is usually extreme in his or her behaviour both to himself and to his fellow human being. Therefore, the consciousness of the existence of law and order helps a man to subject himself to control to avoid the sanctions that the breach of these laws in the form of rules and regulations will attract.

Thus in assisting to regulate human behaviour, one can see that the rules of law are the cornerstone of our liberty and our civilization and the judges are its guardians.

Through the operation of the law, specific crimes such as conspiracy, unlawful assembly, affray and riot, assault, homicide, rape and other sexual offences, defamation, stealing, burglary, house-breaking, robbery receiving unlawful possession, forgery, fraudulent false accounting, false pretences, cheating, bigamy, sedition, criminal contempt and so on which are often committed by suspects against individuals and sometimes against the state are thoroughly dealt with by the various provisions of the law.

Appropriate punishments are meted out to individuals who have been tried and found guilty. These punishments range from payment of fines canning, and or outright sentencing depending on the degree of guilt and the provisions of the law such as the criminal code in the southern part of Nigeria, penal code in the northern part, and or the criminal procedure act or code as the case may be.

Also the fundamental human rights of the individual as enshrined in chapter four of our constitution are firmly protected by the law. Such rights include right to life, right to dignity of human person, right to personal liberty, right to fair hearing, right to private life, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, right to freedom of expression and the press, right to freedom of movement and so many others.

With these rights in place and guarded jealously, an individual, particularly the press or the media to wit radio, television, and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.

For instance, the absence of these particular provision of the law in our constitution to watch over the conduct of our politicians will make them get away easily with bad or no governance at all, misuse of power financial recklessness , human rights abuses, and or misallocation of resources.

AN ORGANIZATION According to the same dictionary cited and referred to earlier, an organization is a group such as a club or business that has been formed for a particular purpose.

The standard of performance expected of such bodies is usually high because of the perception the public has of them. Most, if not all of these organizations have rules that guard their various operations to enhance their optimal performance.

The companies and allied matters Act extensively provide for company operations either in a private or public capacity. For example, it is mandatory for a public company to have a memorandum and articles of association. The memorandum is like the constitution of the company. It is a primary document which must be registered on the incorporation of the company.

Once it is registered, it becomes a public document and members of the public can have access to it and can inspect it to determine its nature, business or objects, powers etc. Essentially too, it governs the external relationship of a company and defines the extent of the power of the company and its range of activities. It states the name of the company, registered office of the company, nature of the business of the company names of the company’s subscribers and so on.

The article of association of the company on the other hand represents the rules and regulations governing the internal management of a company

There are also the regulatory framework for dealings in company securities such as the public disclosure by companies of all material information affecting the value of the companies securities, protection against unfair practices by intermediaries and insiders, protection against the financial failure of intermediaries and market institutions, protection of investors’ interests, and so on.

Presently in Nigeria, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the apex regulatory body for securities market. There is the enforcement and compliance department to ensure that these laid down rules and regulations for the smooth operation of these organizations are complied with. And where non-compliance is observed, enforcement actions such as civil injunctive action, administrative proceedings etc are taken against the officials or directors of the erring organizations or companies.

THE ECONOMY By way of definition and basically from the dictionary earlier referred to, the economy of a country is the system by which the country’s money and goods are produced and used. The entire life style of a nation revolves round its economy. Various rules and regulations have been put in place to checkmate the legal intricacies and consequences of the different business transactions in the nation’s economy.

Though there are sufficient regulatory frameworks for dealings in Company securities in place, the capital market can not operate efficiently if these rules of the market are not rigorously enforced through the instrument of the law.

Thus section 251 of the 1999 constitution confers exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal High Court with respect to several matters including inter-alia; • Arising from the operation of the Companies and Allied matters Act or any other enactment replacing the Act or regulating the operations of companies incorporated under the Companies and Allied matters Act.

• Any federal enactment relating to commercial and industrial monopolies and trusts. • Any action or proceeding for a declaration or injunction affecting the validity of any executive or administrative action or decision of the federal government or any of its agencies. • Also, the Investment and Securities Act by its section 224 established a securities and Tribunal. The Act purports to vest jurisdiction over all matters under the Act in the Tribunal.

• The existence of the E.F.C.C. (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) and I.C.P.C. (Independence Corrupt Practices Commission), code of conduct bureau, Nigerian Drugs Law Enforcement Agencies (N.D.L.E.A.) and so many others such organisations are also other ways of control.

The aim of these commissions is to investigate public officers who have enriched themselves with government funds and if found guilty, punished accordingly. • On the international scene, we have the Organisation of Securities Commission (IOSCO). The aim is to focus, identify and solve international regulatory problems on monetary issues.………. In concluding this discussion, I wish to submit that Law is a life issue.

The importance of the subject at this period can hardly be overemphasised. It is imperative to strengthen the various laws governing our different parastatals which make up our global economy. It is however very disheartening that despite the provisions of these various laws, their implementation has remained a thorny issue. The rules and regulations are flagrantly abused at different levels. The top government officials only pay lip service or feign their compliance to the rule of law which places a lot of emphasis on the supremacy of the law.

Thank you for your attention