1.1 EVOLUTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN NIGERIA
The issue of human rights has been one of the most widely debated issues throughout the word in the last fifty years.
Human rights evolution in Nigeria is traceable to be attempt by the British Government to calm the fear expressed by the country ethnic minorities that the majority ethnic minorities that the majority ethnic group in control of political powers would oppress them after the termination of the British colonial government it was therefore the fear of domination of minorities by the majorities that ultimately led to the adoption of the Bill of right in Nigeria in its independence constitution of 1960.
Successive per-independence constitutional conference dating back to 1953 have often then only fix on the inclusion of certain fundamental rights in future Nigeria constitution.
This agitation led to the setting up of a Royal Commission of Enquiry in 1958. The commission investigated and recommended the incorporation of the fundamental Right provisions in the Nigeria constitution.
Following the report of Sir Willink Commission, human rights were entrenched in the chapter 3 of the 1960 constitution1, the following are rights recognized in 1960 and corresponding section.
- Right to life and dignity of human person-section 17
- Freedom from inhuman treatment – section 18
- Freedom from salavary and forced labour – section 19
- Right to personal liberty – section 20
- Determination of rights – section 21
- Right to private life – section 22
- Right to freedom of conscience - section 23
- Right to peaceful assembly and association - sec 25
- Freedom of movement - section 26
- Freedom from discrimination - section 27
- Right to compensation for compulsory accusation of property – section 30
- Chapter 3 (section 17 - 30) 1960 Constitution.
- Freedom of expression - section 24
These rights were repeated verbatim in the 1963 Republican Constitution of Nigeria and with a little variation for amplification in the 1979 and the 1989 constitution which was not adopted.
Thus, in spite of the dramatic experience of the political crisis including the period of the civil war of 1967 – 1970, the rights have remained the same. That is, they have not been extinguished by any military or civilian Administration, but that does not mean that, they have not been assaulted or threatened.
In recent times there have been certain Human Rights of non political nature which are not necessarily fundamentally enshrined in the constitution, they appeared first in the 1979 Constitution. Example of these sets of rights are those to Education, to work and just remuneration, the Right to just or favourable condition of work, right to protection against unemployment, old age or disability.
These rights are grouped under the head fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policies. To aid our understanding of our various categories of Human Right to in Nigeria, the following classification is essential, these includes
- A. PERSONAL RIGHTS
These include the right to life under section 33 of the 1999 constitution, Right to dignity of human person in section 34, the right to personal liberty section 35 of the 1999 constitution and the right to freedom of movement section 41.
- B. POLITICAL AND MORAL RIGHTS
The constitution declares the entitlement of every individual to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinion and receive and impact ideas and information without interference, associated or closely related to the political freedom of expression section 39, freedom of association for assembly section 40, freedom of conscience and religion section 38.
- C. PROPRIETARY RIGHTS
The right to property is given substantial protection in that prompt and adequate compensation must be provided by any law which gave the power to compulsory acquire or take possession of property section 44. Also the right to privacy of correspondence and telephone conversation is expressly guaranteed in section 37. Thus personal and domestic privacy is protected to supplement common law protection derived from the law of trespass.
- D. PROCEDURAL (DUE PROCESS) RIGHTS
The principle of fair hearing is well developed at common law but this has been entrenched in the constitution in far greater detail than were before, it is declared in section 36 of the 1999 constitution that in the determination of civil rights and obligation, a person shall be entitled to fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by the law and constituted in such a manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.
- E. EQUALITY RIGHT
It emphasis on the right of freedom from discrimination Section 42 of the 1999 constitution, prohibits discrimination among citizens on the bases of sex, age, religion race, nationality etc. It also intends to protect children born outside wedlock.
- F. ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS
The right appeared in the 1999 constitution under the fundamental objectives and directive principle of state policy which is not enforced, (section 20 of the same constitution). This policy cannot be divorced because of its importance to the right to life and survival. Hence, without clean to uncontaminated water the environment will not be a healthy for one to work in.
1.1 WHAT IS A RIGHT
A right is the sovereignty to act without the permission of others. The concept of a right carries with it an implicit, unstated footnote you may exercise your rights as long as you do not violate the same rights of another. Within this context, rights are not absolute.
According to the 9th edition of the black’s law dictionary2. “A right is that which is proper under law, morality or ethnics (know right from wrong). Something that is due to a person by just claim, legal guarantee, or moral principle.
According to the Osborn’s 10th Concise Law Dictionary3, “a
- The 9th edition of the black’s law dictionary. p. 9 1436.
- The 10th edition of Osborn’s concise law dictionary. P 9 356
right is an interest recognized and protected by the law, respect for, which is a duty and disregard of which is a wrong (salmond). A capacity residing in one man of controlling, with the assent and assistance of the state, the actions of others.
Rights are concerned with interests, and indeed have been defined as interests protected by rules of rights, that is by moral or legal rules. Yet rights and interest are not identical. Interests are things which are to a man’s advantage he has an interest in his freedom or his reputation. His rights are these, if he has such rights protect of interests, which accordingly from the subject of his rights but are different from them.
A right must be exercised through own initiative and action. It is not a claim on others. This means you do not have the right to the time in another person’s life. You do not have a right to another person’s property.
WHAT ARE HUMAN RIGHTS
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, ethnic group, colour, religion, language, or any other status, we are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These right are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary, international law general principles and other sources of international human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individual or groups.
(a.) Universal and Inalienable Human Rights
The principle of universality of human rights is the cornerstone of international human rights law.
This principle, as first emphasized in the universal Declaration on human right in 1948, has been reiterated in numerous international human rights conventions, declarations, and resolution. The 1993 vienna world conference on Human rights, for example, noted that it is the duty of states to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems. All states have ratified at one, and 80% of have ratified four or more, of the core human rights treaties, reflecting consent of states which creates expression to universality. Some fundamental human rights enjoy universal protection by customary in international laws across all boundaries and civilizations.
Human Rights are inalienable. They should not be taken away. Except in specific situation and according to due process for n for example, the right to liberty may be restricted if a person is found guilty of a crime by a court of law.
(b) Interdependent and indivisible human right
All human rights are indivisible, whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life, equality before the law freedom of expression, economic, social and cultural rights, such as rights to work, social security and education, or collective rights, such as the rights to development and self-determination, are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. The improvement of one right facilitates advancement of the others. Likewise, the deprivation of one right adversely affects the others.
(c) Equal and non-discriminatory human right
Non-discrimination is a cross-cutting principle in international human rights law. The principle is present in all the major human rights treaties and provides the central theme of some of international human rights conventions such as the international convention on the elimination of all forms of Racial discrimination and the convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women.