Application of the Rule of Law
The rule of law is defined as the supremacy of law over everybody in a political system. Rule of law is seen as a provision made by the constitution with emphasis on supremacy of the law, equality before the law and the presence or inclusion of the principle of individual rights.
The law should be able to guide every individual and activities in a state. According to Professor A.V. Dicey, the political leaders that are entrusted with the affairs of the state should abide by the rule of law and govern the people according to the provisions of the constitution of that particular countiy.
He maintained that when this is respected, there will be absence of arbitrary government. In addition, powers in government, should not be concentrated in the hands of a few individual but should be exercised by different institutions to make for good governance.
The application of the rule of law may require the following:
1. Existence of a Legislative House
Law is made by the legislature. So it follows that for the rule of law to exist there is the need for the existence of a representative legislative institution to make law and this raises the fundamental question about whether the rule of law can exist under a military or an imposed regime. The rule of law cannot exist under such imposition.
2. Establishment of Independent Judicial Body
There must be a judicial body which has been established in accordance with the rule of law. The law must be adjudicated by such an independent and impartial body.
3. Conformity of Government To The Rule of Law
The rule of law is both a legal and political doctrine. As a political doctrine, it should be related to liberal democratic principles.
For example, should a government be created because the people accept it or because it is in accordance with the law? The two problems cannot be easily resolved.
If acceptance is the basis for the creation of the government, then it is not in accordance with the rule of law. Government must be in accordance with the rule of law.
4. Enactment of Effective Legislation
For the rule of law to exist, there must be effective legislation to ensure its ideals. And a number of laws have been passed to guarantee the rule of law. An example is the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 which has now been extended to Nigeria.