Human Rights – Violations of Human Rights in Nigeria

Filed in HELPFUL GUIDES by on June 7, 2019 0 Comments
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Human Rights

Violations of Human Rights in Nigeria

It is elementary knowledge that violations of fundamental human rights have become a global subject with global appeal. The fact that human rights have gained remarkable attention, prominence, and significance in our world of pluralism, diversity, and interdependence stems from their very nature.

Human rights are rights which all human beings have by virtue of their humanity, such as right to life, dignity of human person, personal liberty, fair hearing and freedom of thought, conscience and religion among the international community.

To demonstrate the important character of violation of fundamental human rights a learned author insightfully declared that the issue in the recent past, has penetrated the international dialogue, become an active ingredient in interstate relations and has burst the sacred bounds of national sovereignty.


“Human Rights” has been defined as the inalienable rights of people. They are the legal entitlements which every citizen should enjoy without fear of the Government or other fellow citizens. They are said to be the rights which cannot be said to have been given   to man by man but are earned by man for being a human because they are necessary for his continuous happy existence with himself, his fellow man and for participation in a complex society (David Kaluge, Human Right Abuse 2013).

Some Nigerians are confused as to what rights they are entitled to as citizens and often confuse what their fundamental right really is. The statute-protected by the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria. Chapter IV of the Constitution lists out the basic fundamental Human Rights enjoyed by citizens of the country. The Right to watch satellite television is unfortunately, not part of that list.

The Fundamental Rights of Nigerians under Chapter IV of the constitution are as follows:

  1. The Right to life: Under the constitution, every person has a right to life and no one shall be intentionally deprived of his life. The constitution however, provides exceptions where violation of his Right is acceptable.
  2. Where the taking of the life is in execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence in which the person has been found guilty in Nigeria.
  3. Where the loss of life is a result of the use of such force as is reasonable necessary and in such circumstances as permitted by law.
  • For the defence of any person from unlawful violence or defence of property.
  1. In order to make a lawful arrest or prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained or for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.
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Aside from the above circumstances, any violation of a person’s right to life is an abuse of that person’s fundamental rights and is usually found in torture and extra-judicial killings. For example, the activities of the rootless attacks and murder of civilians.

  1. The Right to Dignity of Human Person: Every person is entitled to respect of his/her dignity. No person shall be subjected to torture or be in human treatment, be held in salary or be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
  2. Right to Personal Liberty: Under the constitution, every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of this right except in special circumstances and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law.

Example of Abuse of this right can be found in cases of unlawful arrest and detention by Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies. The National Human Rights Commission’s Prison Audit for the year 2012 released in May 2013, showed that out of 173 prisons audited in Nigeria, the number of awaiting trial inmates stood at 35,889.

  1. Right to Fair Hearing: The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees a person the right to fair hearing within a ]reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law in determination of his/her civil rights and obligations including a question or determination by or  against any  government or authority.
  2. Right to Private and Family Life: This guarantees and protects the right to the privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications. However, there have been instances of abuse and violation of this right, particularly cases of police entering people’s homes in the course of arrest of a suspected criminal or investigation of criminal matters without obtaining the proper search warrants.
  3. Right to Freedom of Thought Conscience and Religion: The constitution provides for secularity in Nigeria, guaranteeing the peoples entitlement to religious freedom including freedom to change religion or belief and manifest and propagate one’s religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

The law also providers:

  1. No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in any religious ceremony relating to a religion not his own.
  2. No religious community or denomination shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for pupils of that community or denomination in any place of education maintained wholly by that community or denomination.
  3. Nothing in the provision of the constitution shall entitle and person to form take part in the activity or be a member of secret society.

Despite the constitutional provision, however, there have been frequent reports of human rights abuse among cleric fundamentalists. Nigeria has witnessed many clashes between Christian and Muslim adherents over the years.

  1. Right to Freedom of Expression at the Press: Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
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This right, unfortunately, has been used by some people to violate other people’s rights. It brings to mind the words of a great thinker “Under tyranny, people seek liberty; under liberty, people seek tyranny”.

  1. Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association: Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons and from or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interest.

Disruption of peaceful anti-government rallies by police is a violation of this right to peaceful assembly. The violent disruption of the occupy Nigeria mass protests against the removal of fuel subsidy in January 2012 by the police and armed personnel is an example of the violation and infringement of the right to peaceful assembly.

It should be noted, however, that to hold a peaceful assembly, one must obtain the appropriate permit. The law on public meetings, the public order Act, vests the power to regulate public meetings, processions and rallies in any part of Nigeria in the federation. By virtue of the Act, the police can not issue a license or permit any meeting or rally without the consent of the governor of the state.

  1. Right to Freedom of Movement: All citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry or exit.
  2. The constitution provides exceptions on the residence or committed a criminal offence in order to prevent him from leaving the country.
  3. Any law providing for the removal of any person from Nigeria to another country to be tried outside Nigeria for any criminal offence or to undergo imprisonment outside Nigeria in execution of the sentence of a court of law in respect of a criminal offence he has been found guilty of provided that there is a reciprocal agreement between Nigeria and the other country.

Another exception to this right are the environmental sanitation laws which restricts the movement of people before a certain time during the monthly environmental sanitation exercises.

  1. Right to Freedom from Discrimination: Citizens shall not be subjected to any from of discrimination, disability or deprivation by reason of to origin, circumstances of birth, sex, religion or political opinion.
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What are Human Rights? Human rights are rights inherent to all human being, regardless of race, sex nationality, ethnicity, language, religion or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom or opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.

International Human Rights Law: Lays down the obligations of governments to certain acts in order to promotes and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.

One of the great achievements of the United Nation is the creation of a comprehensive body of human rights law – a universal and internationally protected code to which all nations can subscribe and all people aspire. The United Nations has defined a broad range of internationally accepted rights including civil culture, economic, political and social rights. It has also established mechanisms to promote and protect these rights and to assist states in carrying out their responsibilities. The foundations of this body of law are the character of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human of Rights, adopted by the General Assembly in 1945 and 1948, respectively. Since then, the United Nations has gradually expanded human rights Law to encompass specific standards for women, children, persons with disabilities, minorities and other vulnerable groups, who now posses right that protect them from discrimination that had  long been common in many societies.


A series of International Human Rights treaties and other instruments adopted since 1945 have expanded the body of International Human Rights Law. They include the convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of Genocide (1948), the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), the convention on the Elimination of all forms Discrimination against women (1979), the convention on the rights of the child (1989) and the convention on the rights of persons with Disabilities (2006), among others.


This council was established on 15 March, 2006 by the General Assembly and reporting directly to it, replaced the 60 year-old United Nation Commission on Human Rights as the key United Nation Intergovernmental Body responsible for human rights. The council is made up of 47 state representatives and is tasked with strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe by addressing situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them, including responding to human rights emergencies.

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