Whenever one hears Human Rights, what normally comes to mind is the law.
Well, that may be because those rights are entrenched and provided for in documents
known as the Constitution, Statutes, Acts and so many others.
Human Rights is a very wide topic. More so, the judiciary is vested with the powers to interpret the laws and of noteworthy, the judiciary is also saddled with the responsibility of settling
disputes between the government officials and the citizens and also disputes between
Many times, we do misuse and misconstrue the meaning of the phrases Fundamental Human Rights and Fundamental Rights. This article will talk about the history of Human Rights In Nigeria, the reality of human rights vis-à-vis statistic
reports of the abuse of human rights and arbitrary use of power in Nigeria.
Careful consideration of all these facts will showcase and help one, at the end of this the
article, to pinpoint if Nigeria is accommodating or hostile to human rights and its citizens who are meant to wine and dine unfettered, in these rights.
It is generally believed that there is no generally accepted definitions of terms, notwithstanding, some scholars opined that: “Fundamental Human Rights are not the particular privileges of citizens of certain states, but something to which every human being everywhere is entitled to”.
“it is the rights which stands above ordinary laws of the land and which, in fact, is antecedent to the political society itself. It is a primary condition to a civilized society”
So basically speaking, Fundamental Human Rights are those rights that every human
anywhere can lay claim to by virtue of being human.
Humans are naturally born with such rights and those rights can not be taken or limited without legal justification.
Some universally recognized rights that are seen as fundamental, i.e., contained in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) , include the following: Right to self determination, Right to liberty, Right to due process of law, Right to freedom of movement, Right to privacy, Right to freedom of thought,
Fundamental Rights on the other hand has also enjoyed the opinions of scholars as well: “not all human rights can be termed fundamental rights or fundamental human rights under our classification unless they are entrenched in the
“these are a group of rights that have been recognized by a high degree of
protection from encroachment. These rights are specifically identified in
a Constitution, or have been found under Due Process of law”4
This are legal rights that are enforceable and justifiable and are enjoyed by the people
of that particular state or region. Some of these laws may not be universally recognized, which is one of the distinct characteristics of fundamental right from fundamental human rights. For example in Nigeria, the fundamental rights of
Nigerians are entrenched in sections 33 – 44 of the “1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”. Some of this rights includes but are not limited to Rights to Life, Right to dignity of human person, Right to personal
liberty, Right to fair hearing…. Another word for accommodating is being friendly and this can be said to mean, giving consideration to or to allow for or to make fit; while hostile, which
is the opposite, is being unfriendly, having an intimidating, antagonistic or offensive
1.3 History of Human Right in Nigeria
Prior to the advent of the colonial masters in Nigeria, Nigerian communities have there cultures, norms, customs and traditions with laws regulating their ways of live and day-to-day transactions. Some of those rights they jealously shielded are for instance rights to family, membership, freedom of thought, speech, right to enjoy the private property and the right to participate in manning up the affairs of the
society. The insulation of the modern-day human rights can be traced back to the coming of the 1960 Independence Constitution, 1963 Republican Constitution down to the present Constitution operating in Nigeria, which is the 1999 Constitution, where those rights are provided for in Chapter IV.
1.4 Reality of Human Rights in Nigeria
Now talking about whether or not, Nigeria is accommodating or hostile vis-à-vis taking cognizance of human rights, it is of common knowledge, it is not new to everybody that it’s a position and contention not far fetched to those who are abreast with recent happenings, must especially with the rate of human rights abuses that Nigeria is slightly accommodating. However, these opinions and views are intertwined as it goes both ways.
This means structurally, Nigeria is meant to be accommodating democratically to human rights as contained in the constitution.
Although it is well known that Nigeria, constitutionally and statutorily, is meant to be a democratic society that upholds and protects human rights, yet the mode of governance and the practicality in our political lifestyle in Nigeria have
devastatingly shaped our conception, our contention, our interpretation, and our observation about how Nigeria is, and how she reacts to issues surrounding human rights in general.
Like we’ve mentioned earlier, chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution provides for numerous rights dished by the Constitution to be enjoyed by the citizens, the big question begging for an acknowledgement now is: to what extent has Nigeria uphold such rights? What is the attitude and the role needed to be played by citizens to ensure that, these rights are alive and preserved?
It is a fact that Nigeria has these rights enshrined and rooted as Fundamental in her ground norm, the Constitution and as such, we can say she accommodate such rights. But going further to its practicality, irreverent and oblivion attitudes and most importantly the ignorance of citizens to most of these rights shows that Nigeria, as a
state, is hostile to human rights. Most of the citizens also chose to remain ignorant and defiant towards the upholding and observation of these rights even to themselves. Even if the government chooses to be hell-bent on making sure these
constitutional entrenched rights are observed, most of the citizens do not know how it operates.
The reality of these rights observed and preserved is diminutive. After all, it is often said that the people are the government. Positive change with regards to the observance of human rights starts with the citizens. If the citizens continue to find it difficult to observe such rights, there is no way Nigeria is going to be accommodating.
1.5 Statistic Reports on the Abuse of Human Rights
There have been many reports on the abuse of human rights by the government and its agencies in Nigeria which have given Nigeria an unhealthy
reputation globally. For example, a report on Forbes about insecurity and treat to life which is one of the most crucial aspect of human rights, portrayed a Hungarian expat’s statement: “We are not really free, cannot walk on the streets, cannot mingle with the Nigerians.
There is always the possibility of danger.” A Rwandan ex-pat complains about “the feeling of uncertainty. Almost anything can and might happen to me, anytime, anywhere.”5 Let’s also take just one examples amongst many human rights that’s have been abused by one of the governmental agencies saddled primarily with the
responsibility to provide security and protect the lives and properties of the citizens…that is the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). Research carried out by Human Rights Watch (HRW) showed that on June 7th and 8th, 2005, the police in Abuja
killed six young Nigerians, most of whom were from Apo village, including Augustina Arebun, a 22-year-old university student.
The police initially claimed that the six were armed robbers and had been killed in a gun battle with the police… (which was later discovered to be otherwise. Also, another report from HRW showed that from 2000-2003, out of almost
25,000 armed rubber suspects arrested, 5,779 were summarily executed without trial and were classified “killed in combat.” There have also been reports of Extrajudicial killings all over the country the members of the NPF at checkpoints, during patrol and even at the police stations.
All these horrible blunt disrespect and disregard for the observation and upholding of human rights in Nigeria. With so many of these agencies and officials abusing these rights every now and then, how feasible is it to say that Nigeria is accommodating? Will it be wrong to say Nigeria is hostile andnot accommodating?
To sum it up, it has been discussed above, the meaning of human rights and its difference with Fundamental rights. It’ll be safe to say that all human rights are fundamental rights, but not all fundamental rights are human rights. Aside the fact that some citizens are ignorant of their rights,
succinct statistics and reports showing the high rate of the abuse of human rights by the government officials or agencies All this has pointed more to the fact that Nigeria is not accommodating.