Bayelsa was created in 1996 with three local governments carved out from the old Rivers State during the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. Its capital is Yenagoa, the traditional centre of the Ijaw people, one of Nigeria’s largest ethnic groups.
Bayelsa State is geographically located within 4o15 north and latitude 5o23 south. It is also within longitudes 5o22 west and 6o45 east covers a land area of 10,773 km². It is bound by Delta State on the north, Rivers State on the east and the Atlantic Ocean on the western and southern parts. The mean monthly temperature is in the range of 25oC to 31oC. Mean maximum monthly temperatures range from 26oC to 31o C. About three-quarters of its total area lie under water.
The population of Bayelsa State according to a recent estimate from the National Population Commission is 1,704,515- Male: 874,083; Female: 830,432. The State is a state of few towns and numerous isolated villages. Out of sixty towns of 5000 persons and above, only two record a population above 20,000 persons.
Located in the heart of the Niger-Delta, Bayelsa, apart from harbouring Oloibiri, the place where Nigeria’s crude oil was first found in commercial quantities in 1956, it is also credited as the source of about 30 percent of Nigeria’s oil and gas output. Fishing is another major economic practice in Bayelsa due to the large coastal boundaries of the State as well as its many creeks and deltas.
Currently, the State owes its legal existence to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As a State, it is constitutionally mandated to establish:
- an Executive arm of government headed by an elected Governor;
- a legislative arm of government which members shall be drawn from constituencies defined in the Constitution. Its activities are presided over by a Speaker elected by the members of the State House of Assembly which oversees the exercise of the State’s legislative energies;
- a judicial arm made up of judges, magistrates and other officers that help in the administration of justice and related activities within the State. The judicial arm is headed by the State’s Chief Justice. Nonetheless, judicial pronouncement of the State’s tribunals are subject to the appellate review of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria, in that order;
- maintain the Local Government level of governance. Presently, the Nigerian Constitution prescribes 7 Local Government Areas for the State; and
- mobilize the powers of the State, the institutions and resources of its arms and levels of government in order to secure a socio-economic environment for persons resident in the State and its other stakeholders to pursue legitimate goals in dignity under the State’s justice administration umbrella.
The Bayelsa State legal system comprises;
- the compendium of Constitution provisions applicable to the State as one of the 36 States that constitute the Nigerian Federation;
- Laws made by the Federal Legislature applicable throughout the entire federation or specifically to Bayelsa State;
- Laws made (or deemed to have been made), by the State’s legislature;
- Laws made by Local Government Councils in the State;
- Customary laws or other customs of the market place applicable under the operation of Law;
- Judicial precedents of the courts of the State and of appellate courts with jurisdictions over its tribunals like the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria;
- Judicial precedents of federation tribunals like the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court, Code of Conduct Tribunal, Investments and Securities Tribunal and so on to the extent to which their mandates allow; and
- Law enforcement institutions, law enforcement officers, judges, legal practitioners, judiciary workers, other professionals and persons recognized at various levels as part of the justice administration complex of the State.
Sources of Bayelsa State Legal System include:
- The Constitution of Nigeria (including its amendments and other laws it refers to expressly as having the same character as provisions contained within the formal Constitutional document;
- Laws of the Federation of Nigeria;
- Legislations of the National Assembly applicable to Bayelsa State;
- Legislations of the State House of Assembly;
- Recognized customs of the people of Bayelsa State;
- Judicial precedents of courts with judicial authority over Bayelsa State;
- Local Government edicts.
BAYELSA STATE BY LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS
LEGAL SYSTEMS OF THE FEDERATING UNITS OF NIGERIA – 37 STATES/FCT