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Emergency powers in the newly independent African countries in the Commonwealth

Akande, JO; (1971) Emergency powers in the newly independent African countries in the Commonwealth. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of London. Green open access

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The subject has been studied under eight chapters. In a very brief introductory chapter an attempt hasbeen made to delimit the scope of the subject-matter. As the title suggests not all the newly-independent countries within the Commonwealth have been discussed but an attempt has been made to bring in at least one country from each part of the four corners of the Continent. The study has been limited to the newly-independent countries mainly because of their relative political and consti¬tutional instability following the attainment of independent status, with the result that quite often emergency powers have had to be invoked to restore a measure of stability. It is believed that a subject is better appreciated by an understanding of its history, hence the first chapter deals with the historical development of emergency powers. All Commonwealth countries in Africa had at one time or another been under the colonial control of Great Britain and the colonial administrators had found it necessary to provide for and use emergency powers to deal with a number of situations. There is no doubt that the emergency powers in the new nations are part of their colonial heritage. The various types of emergency legislation which are found in the countries within the area of study are discussed in chapter Two in such a way as to bring out the scope and content of the powers which they confer on the executive during a period of emergency. Chapter Three deals with the practical operation of these powers and the situations which had led to their use. Some of the illustrations bring out clearly the daggers inherent in the use of such wide discretionary powers. The Fourth Chapter deals with the effect of emergency powers on citizens' rights. A declaration of an emergency invariably leads to the suspension or denial of some vital rights of the citizens. The next chapter (Chapter V) deals with the role of the judiciary during emergency periods and to what extent they have been able to stand against the possible excesses of the Executive in operating emergency powers,as well as the danger and extent of possible involvements of members of the bench. In the chapter which follows,broad aspect of checks on the exercise of emergency powers is discussed. The point is whether the various types of checks or safeguards both constitutional and institutional are sufficiently effective in preventing the encroachment of totalitarianism. Chapter Seven discusseS the effect of military intervention in politics and to what extent they are able to cope with the various problems of government, even by use of emergency powers. The last chapter, as well as giving a brief summary of the general trend of the discussion in preceeding chapters, indicates the reasons why the present writer believes that the present prevalent reliance on emergency powers by the governments of the new nations is merely one of the growing pains which must lessen and eventually disappear as the new nations mature.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: PhD
Title: Emergency powers in the newly independent African countries in the Commonwealth
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10048643
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