Nigerian Human Rights

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CHAPTER 1 1.1INTRODUCTION Human rights in most cases are discussed as synonyms with constitutional rights. This could be as a result of general conception is that every right can be enforced in law. The word ‘right’ means that to which an individual has a just and valid claim, whether it be land, a thing or the privilege of doing something. Thus, human rights are rights which all people (mankind) everywhere and mostly have by advantage of being mortal and coherent individual. These rights are characteristic in every mortal creature by advantage of his humanity. These rights hold a wide diversity of civil, political, economic, social, cultural, group unanimity and progressive claims which are considered indispensable to a significant actuality. While the constitution is a body of laws on the foundation of which a state (country) is governed. In Nigeria, the constitution is the highest law on the foundation of which the legitimacy of other laws is resolute. It is the grudnorm of the country’s body of law.[1] Rights in the constitution are enforceable in agreement with the requirements of the constitution unlike common human rights some of which are not justifiable and constitute mere aspirations of the citizens. In kuti and ors v. A.G Federation[2] Oputa Jsc emphasized that: ‘’Not every civil or legal rights is fundamental rights. The model and notion of essential rights both derive from the premise of the unassailable rights of man-life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Developing nations with written constitutions have cherished in such constitutions some of the rudimentary human rights, to each right that is thus considered fundamental profoundly spelt out.’’ Thus in Nigeria, those rights that are considered vital to human beings is itemized in chapter IV of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria which was accepted on May 1999. The constitution is the basic and ultimate law of the country and any supplementary law varying with its requirements is negated to the degree of its inconsistency[3]. In chapter IV the constitution assures vital rights such as the right to life, admiration for self-esteem of the individual, as well as the sanction of torture, right to personal liberty, right to privacy, liberty of thought, integrity and religion, freedom of appearance, liberty of association, liberty of movement, right to non-discrimination as well as the right to assets. It also offers a right to a remedy in law for any violations[4]. 1.2BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY Based on the adoption of universal pronouncement of Human Rights and the incorporation of vital human rights in our constitution, basic fundamental human rights have been created and which should be respected by all men in the Nigerian society. Unfortunately, many people in our society face untold hardships day in day out because they are denied their basic rights which normally the constitution of Nigeria would enforce even though they are suspects but because they are unaware of these rights they are rarely or never claim them. However, those who are saddled with these responsibilities fail to do their work properly. In this respect, this thesis will discuss the basic rights of citizens in agreement with the 1999 constitution of Nigerian and how such rights are infringed enforced and the challenges faced in the process of enforcement of human rights in Nigeria. 1.3AIM AND OBJECTIVES The fundamental human rights under the 1999 Nigerian constitution has one way or the other been infringed, which in some cases can be linked to citizens ignorant of their basic rights as provided for in the constitution. Therefore, the aim and objectives of this study is to state and expansiate the rights of the citizens and also the enforcement and challenges of such rights in accordance to chapter IV of the 1999 constitution. 1.4SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY Ignorance as is been said is a disease, Nigerians generally are ignorant of their legal rights despite the fact that it has been boldly written and spelt out in the constitution of the country. Most Nigerians suffer civil wrongs and let it get away without anything be done to it. This is as a result of lack of knowledge of their basic rights. Thus, the purpose of this thesis is to shed more light on the awareness of basic fundamental human rights of citizens in accordance to the provisions of the 1999 Nigerian constitution. These rights can be found in chapter IV of the constitution which states the rights of the citizens of Nigeria. 1.5SCOPE OF THE STUDY The topic of this thesis is The Fundamental Human Right in Nigeria under the chapter IV of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This thesis is however divided into five chapters; chapter one of this thesis is an introduction to the thesis and it comprises of the background, the aims and objectives, the significance and the structure of the thesis. Chapter two talks about the concepts of human rights, the historical development of human right in Nigeria and the distinction between human rights and fundamental human rights. Chapter three expatiates further on the provisions of chapter IV of the 1999 constitution which are civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, the right to sustainable development, peace and a protected environment, the right of women, children and young persons. Chapter four surveys the enforcement of fundamental human rights i.e. Individual and Institutional enforcement of fundamental human rights of citizens and Boko haram. Then finally, chapter five summarizes the thesis, makes observations, conclusions and recommendations if any. 1.6STRUCTURE OF THE STUDY This thesis will adopt a mixture of analytical and historical approach. It will be analytical in the sense that there will be an exploration of what is termed as the existing law as it relates to fundamental human rights in Nigeria. This will include the use of statute books, the judgment of superior courts and English law which are applicable in Nigeria, such as the rules of common law, Doctrine of Equity and status of general applications in force in 1900. It will be historical in the sense that evolution of fundamental human rights traced back so as to know the reasons behind the evolution of these rights. Also, this thesis will make use of primary and secondary sources of law. Primary sources refer to; Administrative decisions and ruling, constitution,, Judicial reports. Managerial rules and regulations among others, while secondary sources refer to constitution, convention and documents, law dictionaries, periodicals source books of historical documentation. CHAPTER 2 2.1CONCEPT OF HUMAN RIGHTS Human right in the world today is the most widely talked about issue which cannot be taken lightly. The word ‘Human Right’ is specifically qualified as civil or legal, absolute or inalienable and fundamental or universal right. Talking about inalienable right, conferring to the dictionary are rights in accordance to common law that can’t be taken away, denied or transferred i.e. a right which is an integral part of an individual (human dignity) which cannot be taken away stricto-sensu[5] because the taking away of such rights would be tantamount to human degradement. In the case of Thomas& others v. Timothy Olufosoye[6] it was held that; Literally,‘’right ‘‘means an action or conduct which Is morally good according to the law. so, whoever keeps the Law does right and whoever violates the law is said to have done wrong. Also, human right is based on the adoption of natural law that posits that there are certain unchangeable rights that belongs to man everywhere and pertaining to man’s security which should be secured and guaranteed to every person. Such rights are rights that naturally belongs to man simply because he’s a man[7]. The basic human rights can be found in chapter IV of 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria[8], which includes all the basic rights i.e the right to life, right to personal liberty ,right to fair hearing etc as it’s seen in chapter IV as earlier stated. Also, there are international instruments on human rights which are: Magno –carta petition of rights 1628; Bill of Rights 1689; Virginia Declaration of Rights 1776; French declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizens 1789;American Declaration of Independence 1776; Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Freedom 1950 ;American Convention for the protection Human rights and liberty 1959; Written Constitution of several independent contemporary states and states liberated from colonialism; African charter on Human and people’s rights 1981[9]. In the case of West African Examination Council(WAEC) v OmodoLapo Yemisi Adeyanju[10]fundamental human right is described as a right guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution and can be found entrenched in a particular chapter therein : chapter IV of the 1999 constitution on Federal Republic of Nigeria. Human Rights as defined by black’s law dictionary is somewhat that is due to an individual by just claim, legal guarantee, morality or ethics, legally implementable claim that another will or will not do to a specified act and a power privileged or immunity safeguarding a person by law[11]. According to Business dictionary,human rights are defined as fundamental rights which humans have by the element of being human, and that are neither spawned nor can be rescinded by any government[12].Also, according to John Locke (1632-1704)[13], human right was defined as ethical claims or prerogatives, to life, freedom, and property. The paramount known manifestation of human rights is the Virginia Declaration of Rights 1776 which declares that all mankind are by nature similarly free and independent and have positive characteristic rights, whereby, in the event that they enter a state of society, they can’t, by any deny their posterity (fundamental rights). The notion of human rights has become a global issue with the beliefs of democratic societies that every human regardless of sex are created equal meaning that they possess equal rights. It has been observed that opinions of people based on race, personal belief or social standing also affect the structure of how human rights that is to be accepted. This has however made the accomplishment of equal rights to remain a constant struggle and the legitimacy and of human rights continue to be the focus of discussion in values and politics. In furtherance, the notion of human rights has however been viewed in different aspects, that is political, sociological and philosophical perspectives. When we talk about socio-politically, it regards human rights as universal rights, or status irrespective of legal jurisdiction and other limiting factors, such as nationality and culture which are naturally conferred on human beings. (Wikipedia 2006). From my own perspective, human rights are rights that human beings are naturally entitled to. For instance, the right to liberty of speech, where every person has the right to express themselves in as much as it is not infringing other persons rights of family and private life whereby, when one person is trying to express himself and thereby intruding in another person’s private matters through speech. Also, looking at the right to freedom of movement where every citizen is naturally entitled to move throughout a country freely and reside in any part of the country, and also right to dignity of person to mention but a few. ‘’Philosophical perspective of human rights’’- There has been different theoretical approach towards the explanation of how human rights has turn out to be part of social expectations. According to Yusuf[14], he stated that the biological concept studies the related propagative benefit to human social conduct based on understanding humanity in the perspective of natural selection. Other philosophies embrace that human rights classify ethical conduct, which is a human social invention established by a process of biological and social development, or as a sociological design of rule setting (the sociological theory of Weber). This approach according to ‘Rawls’ comprises the notion that those in a society agree to take rules from genuine authority in exchange for security and economic benefit. The natural theory is built on natural moral order which is based on religious precepts, i.e. it is assumed that everyone has mutual understanding of justice, or the belief that moral behavior is a set of accurately valid remedies. When we look into legend, literature, religion and political thoughts, justice becomes socially constructed over time into complete webs of socio interaction striving toward a social order in which human beings are treated fairly. However, some religious societies still tend to justify human rights through religious argument. In furtherance, the social evolution concept is based on human requirements and struggle that co-joins an analysis of the norm creation process. Here, constitutive process of authoritative decision making takes place such that the norms may take the form of law through a particular form of authoritative decision making of institutions associated with a legal system. Through this progress, culturally bound behaviours that are inconsistent with contemporary human rights are weed out thereby making culturally particular norms adopt to evolving human rights values as provided for in the constitution and also international instruments. 2.2HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN NIGERIA In Nigeria ,Human Rights came into effect with the advent of colonial rule. Initially in Nigeria, human rights and basic freedom were recognized in the habitual Nigerian societies. The idea of rights was not conceived in the modern notion. Values such as right to family, kin and clan membership, autonomy of thoughts, speech, belief and association, right to reveal in private property and right to participate in authority of the affairs of the society were carefully guarded. In the northern part of Nigeria where the sharia legal scheme was firmly rooted, human rights and fundamental liberties were precisely secure and guaranteed in agreement with the tenets of Islam which integrity and fairness are in high esteem. Imperialism basically eroded traditional values and deprived Nigerians of political and economic rights. In 1922 restricted permission was introduced for the first time in Nigeria by the British colonial political rights in the pre- independence constitutions terminating in the Lyttleton constitution of 1954 through the Clifford constitution. By 1958, the British colonial government inaugurated a commission headed by Sir Henry Willink to look into the fear of domination of the minority groups and how the fear could be dispelled. This and several other factors led to the entrenchment of justifiable rights in the country’s independence of 1960. In recent sense the creation of fundamental human rights in Nigeria could be traced to the 1960 Independence Constitution and those that followed it. Fundamental ideas and directive philosophies of state policy in chapter II [15]conjointly recognized Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The basic aim of the protection of human rights provisions in our constitution was to create a society which guards political freedom as well as the social and commercial well-being of Nigerians. Regardless of Fundamental Rights and liberties in the Nigerian constitution since 1960, the country has had the adversity of military disruptions. This had profound and far-reaching effects on the promotion and protection of democratic values and fundamental freedoms among Nigerians. Before the emergence of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, successive military regimes systematically violated the rights of Nigerians claiming impunity. This ambiguous denial of human rights in Nigeria reached its peak between November 1994 and June 1998. The profound situation of human rights under this regime resulted in Nigeria becoming a pariah state at the international arena and the country was put on the agenda of the United Nations commission on human rights for the consecutive years. Nigerians, led by human civil society groups and professional bodies engaged the military in the struggle for a better society governed by constitutionalism, the rule of law, social justice and respect for human rights. This finally resulted in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the emergence of democracy and democratic institutions in 1999. 2.3THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HUMAN RIGHT AND FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT. There has been a question asked severally whether there’s really a difference between human rights and fundamental human rights. In Human right forum, part of the international law issues category, some stated that ‘’human rights are basic rights to which all humans have an entitlement. They are national and global in nature. On the opposite, fundamental rights are rights given to the people of a country by their constitution which are restricted to the country. Also, another stated that human rights are basically rights that are inherent to us i.e. rights that belong to us since we were born which nobody can impose restrictions on such right, while fundamental human rights are rights that are absolute and also rights that are being restricted. Another member also stated that human rights are entitlements one gets to enjoy once an individual is born. They are right to life and right to movement. Also Some human rights are considered as fundamental such as right to movement. The fact remains, fundamental rights have constraints, examples comprise legal right like right to sue and to be sued economic rights such as right to fair wages. In my own opinion, fundamental human rights are rights that differentiate a citizen from a resident or a visitor. They are the basic rights necessary for your existence as a member of a particular state. They determine your relationship and responsibilities with the state and fellow citizens, residents and tourists including the confines of such relationships and duties. Human rights on the other hand are those inalienable rights that are possessed by human beings. Sometimes fundamental and human rights do overlap as the latter serves as foundation to the previous. The dispute of perspective cannot be detached in the determination of fundamental rights but human rights enjoy a sort of universal context. For instance the right to live is universal but the right to live in a state is fundamental according to the rules set up by the state to guide such right. However, fundamental rights are similar to human rights in a way but are different in the sense that they have legal sanction and can be enforceable in the law court. However, human rights don’t require such holiness and can’t be enforced in courts. Then there is difference of universal appeal because fundamental rights are country specific that have been made keeping in mind the history and culture of a country, however human rights are intended in such a way that they are even more basic in nature and apply to all human beings across the world without any discernment. The right to a noble human life is one such human right which cannot be questioned whether you are in us or in a poor African country. Also, according to Ignateiff[16], human rights itself concludes by bringing a moral obligation claim i.e. a deontological claim concerning that which we owe to human beings and which is also linked to a moral theory, and probably also to an anthropology[17]. A theory of ‘’fundamental rights’’ in contrast obliges us to focus more on that which is capable of enhancing and contributing to the existence of a society or to recommend them as that which could or should do so. This thus involves analyses which are expressed in moral obligation terms, but in ethical terms.
[1]S.1 (3) 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. [2] (1985)8 NWLR (pt 6) 211 [3] Section 1(3) of the constitution [4]Article 46(1) of the constitution. ‘Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this chapter has been is being or likely to be contravened in any state in relation to him may apply to a high court in that state for redress. [5] Strict sensu means in a narrow sense. [6] (1966) 1 ALL NLR 178 [7] Human rights in Nigeria P.1 [8]1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. [9]Obaseki A.O the judiciary and human rights (1992) Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, Lagos part 1. [10] (2008) ALL FWLR (Pt 428) p. 206,209 [11] Black laws dictionary seventh edition p.1323-1324 [12] Business dictionary .com [13] Scottish philosopher [14]Department of Arts and social sciences Education, University of Ilorin, Nigeria. [15] Chapter II of 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [16]Ignateiff, Human Rights as politics and idolatry. [17] This deontological status is in turn understood in different ways. For example, in the sense proposed by Michael perry for human rights: identifying ‘’what ought to be done and what ought not to be done for human beings’’.( M. perry,The idea of Human Rights, oxford 1998,56)
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