Oluchi was on his way to a lecture that morning. About three boys accosted him and ordered that he stopped. He turned towards them and greeted.

“O boy e, see this boy oh! Na so them dey greet senior men?”, one of the boys demanded.

Oluchi looked confused, wondering what the fuss was about. Before he could say something, one of the boys, who had gone behind him, hit him hard “packing his feet off the g

Source, gettyimages

round”. Oluchi fell with the face downward. Others joined in the beating, pounding him hard until he was left bruised and exhausted.

Chinyere was on that route to school that morning too. From a distance, she observed unusual movements of fists but couldnt not make much of her perception. As she drew near however, she saw that three guys were running away from what looked like a human figure lying on the ground. She got to the spot and found a man physically battered. She helped the man up and assisted him to a nearby clinic for medical help. She then inquired from him if he knew his attackers and what led to it. Upon realising the injustice done to him, she suggested to the man to report the matter to the police for redress.

Ah, those cult boys! Nothing would happen to them oh. Law dey wey dey protect person for this country? Oluchi voiced his frustration.

From the above narrative, we might consider that Oluchis expression in the preceding paragraph tells of faithlessness in the power of the Nigeria legal system to protect individuals in Nigeria. If we take it to be so, we might go further to outline factors that create such hopelessness in our justice system, like police indifference to treating citizens complaints, nepotism, godfatherism, inadequate manpower and corruption in the justice sector. These things which constitute clogs in the wheel of justice can wane citizens hope to access justice in any society.

Beyond this however, the story equally points us to wonder if our law(s) provides for the protection of Fundamental Human Rights (FHRs) as espoused in the UN Universal Declaration of Rights to which Nigeria is a signatory. The answer to that is in the affirmative. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) expressly considers FHRs in Chapter IV. Lets pick on the key points.

Right to life
Right to dignity of human person
Right to personal liberty
Right to fair hearing
Right to private and family life
Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
Right to freedom of expression and the press
Right to peaceful assembly and association
Right to freedom of movement
Right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of ethnic group, place of origin, circumstance of birth, sex, religion or political opinion.
Right to compensation for property compulsorily acquired

These are rights naturally accruable to every person by virtue of his/her existence as a human being and the provision of the constitution is that where such is violated, redress can be sought. With regard to Oluchi, he can appeal to section 34 of the Constitution which covers right to dignity of human persons to seek justice. Precisely, section 34 sub 2A grants that no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment”. The Constitution reposes in the court the authority to entertain allegations bothering on violations of FHRs such as the one cited above.

There are other human rights which, though not justiceable (cannot be enforced), are in the Constitution as expressions of aspiration for Nigerians. They include:

Free and compulsory education
Adequate health care, gainful employment
Shelter, food, etc
This set of rights, found in Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy under Chapter II of the Constitution, are aspirations attainable if and when the State has the resources. However, we believe the two sets of rights are both fundamental and complementary. To understand this, consider the implication of life without gainful employment or food to sustain life in the first place. It is the reason why International Bills of rights have argued that Human Rights are interdependent, interrelated, indivisible and universal. Hence, there is a need for our legal framework to consider upgrading Economic, Social and Cultural rights to fundamental rights.


Contributors: C. O. Ikegbunam Esq.
C. A. Nwankwo Esq.
D. A. Okoliko


This is a free educational material and not a source of legal advice. If you need any, please consult your lawyer.


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