This study aimed at examining the legal framework for the promotion and protection of Human Rights in Nigeria in relation to the existing constitutive international instruments on human rights. In this regard, the sources of information relied upon here are relevant text materials, articles in journal publication, judicial authorities, conference papers, newspapers, magazines and internet materials. However, the justification for this research is that “human rights” in Nigeria has become not only a topical issue but the language of both the oppressors and the oppressed, yet little is known of its meaning and ramification. For example the right to fair hearing is not exclusive to either the accused or the prosecution. Does fair hearing means opportunity to be heard or the inalienable right to be heard? Further the denial of economic rights of human being which is presently being experienced in Nigeria is tantamount to denial of right to life because it is this means of livelihood that keeps a man alive. This unfortunate event is quite worrisome and constituted the statement of problem of this research because consequently there is moral decadence, corruption, lack of patriotisms and insecurity in Nigeria. On this note, the finding of this research (among others) was that there existed a weak institutional infrastructure for the promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria. For example there is no specific law regulating the activities of non-government human rights organizations. Although it must be mentioned here that a bill to that effect is pending before the National Assembly. Finally, it was recommended that various governmental bodies in Nigeria must be strengthened and made effective by specific regulatory Act especially the National Human Rights Commission.





1.1        Background to the Study

This work examines the effectiveness of Human Rights in Nigeria. The importance attached to the concept of human rights has assumed phenomenal dimension since the Second World War when it became clear that universal respect for human rights is Condicio sine qua non for world peace and process. At the local level, the malevolent dictatorship of military juntas sensitized Nigerians to their human rights and the need to defend them. This era of military dictatorship also witnessed an upsurge in the emergence of non-governmental human rights organization across the country particularly in the South.

The expression “human rights” in its widest connotation embraces those civil, political, economic, social, cultural, group, solidarity, and developmental rights which are considered indispensable to a meaningful human existence. “Right”, here is used in composite sense and not in the strict legal sense. Legal human rights are those human rights that are guaranteed by positive law (lexlata). Thus, Osita Eze defines human rights as representing demands or claims which individuals or groups make on society some of which are protected by law and have become part of ex lata while others remain aspirations to be attained in future.[1]

Human rights are inherent rights to be enjoyed by all human beings of the global village and not gifts to be withdrawn, withheld or granted at some one‟s whim or will. In this sense, they are said to be inalienable, imprescriptible. If they are removed from any human being, he will become less than human. They are part of the very nature of human being, and attach to all human being everywhere in all societies, but as much as do his arms and legal, Constitutions and other codes do not create human rights but declare and preserve existing rights, perhaps, this is why statutory provisions for the first generation human rights are couched in negative terms, for example, to say that no person shall be deprived of his personal liberty pre-supposes that personal liberty is an existing right.

However, the justification for this research is that “human rights” has become not only a topical issue in Nigeria but the language of both the oppressors and the oppressed. Yet little is known of its meaning and ramifications because practically human rights is not fully observed in

Nigeria. This is evident in the fact of recent Nigeria has witnessed serious breaches of Human Rights such as the kidnapping, abductions, unjust killing and terrorist attacks. On this note the objective of this research is to identify reasons for the occurrence of these events in relation to the adequacy or otherwise of the provisions of the existing laws in Nigeria.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Principal statement of problem in this research is that in Nigeria there is gross and massive violation of people‟s right have led to total lost of confidence in the government by her citizenry. For example the senses of insecurity have led to individuals devising private means of protection.[2] The consequence is total disrespect for the government.

Another related problem is the denial of economic right of human beings is tantamount to denial of right to life because it is the means of livelihood that keep a man alive, deprived a man of his right of livelihood and you shall have deprived him of his life. The consequence is moral decadence corruption, lack of patriotism and insecurity.[3]

In Nigeria, if there is anything lacking to the implementation, protection and enforcement of international human rights laws within the local level, this research will bring it out and at the end make suggestion and recommendations in its conclusion.

1.3       Scope and Limitation of the Research

The scope of this research is confined to the following:

  1. An examination of the various constitutive international, regional and domestic legal frameworks on Human Rights.
  2. To examine whether the non-governmental human rights organizations are actually serving the interest of the down trodden in society.

iii. An examination of the adequacy of the various institutional mechanism put in place for the enforcement of Human Rights in Nigeria.

  1. To examine the factors militating against the smooth operations of the institutional mechanism put in place in Nigeria (if any).
  2. To proffer solution to the factors identified in iv above.

1.4       Aim and Objectives of the Research

This research aims at examining the legal framework for the promotion and protection of Human Rights in Nigeria in relation to the existing constitutive international, regional and domestic instruments on human rights.

In this regard, the objectives of the research are as follows:

  1. To identify the adequacy or otherwise of the existing legal framework and

institutional mechanism relating to human rights in Nigeria.

  1. To identify the challenges arising from the implementation of the law and the limitations of the institutional mechanism put in place for the promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria

iii. To proffer practical measures to the challenges and limitations identified in the promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria in order to ensure an efficient observance in Nigeria.

1.5       Research Methodology

Analysis of reality of which the research deserves ultimately depends on the methodological preference of the research. Appropriately, here, this research work is based on doctrinal method. In this regard, the sources of data include primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources include, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, judicial authorities while secondary sources includes journals, textbooks, magazines, conference materials and newspapers

1.6       Literature Review

Of course, a topical and controversial topic of this nature cannot be successfully undertaken without recourse to authorities who have distinguished themselves in this area of research. At the heart of this methodology is established works, and many of such works have been consulted for this research work.

For instant, the following are some authors who have written on the Human Rights Treaties. Some actually wrote on the implementation of International Human Rights while others did not look into the implementation or enforcement of Human Rights Treaties. But their contributions on Human Rights will greatly enhance the content and value of this work.

Ladan, M. T., in his book[4] highlights the understanding of the concept of human rights generally which the writer finds useful in definition of terminologies, such as: the difference between Ladan‟s work and this research is that the former was focused on international instrument on Human Rights while the latter is on the practical implementation of Human Rights in Nigeria.

Tabiu, M.[5] in his Article discussed several practical measures needed for protection of Human Right in Nigeria which the writer also finds to be important to this Dissertation as far as implementation is concerned.

The books of Falana, F.,[6] and D. J. Harris[7] have been found useful in the filed of International Human Rights Instrument.

The book of Dakas, D. C. J.,[8] is specifically relevant in the area of the rights, duties and implementation of the African Charter. Whereas this research is based on implementation in Nigeria.

Shaw, M. N.,9 extensively discussed the first International Human Rights Instrument that is, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.

On the whole this research focus on the practical implementation of human rights in Nigeria and the factors militating against such implementation in relation to the existing legal frameworks and institutional mechanism which have not been discussed extensively by any of the authors mentioned above.

1.7       Justification of the Research

This research is absolutely imperative due to the problem of gross and massive violation of rights of peoples as enumerated under the 1999 Constitution and other international human rights treaties ratified by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

All Nigerian citizen have a right to have their legal and constitutional rights recognized and transformed in to actual judicial remedies without which these rights remain theoretical and of no value. In this regard, the justification of this research is to the effect of creating the awareness that rights guaranteed under 1999 Constitution are to be made workable and effective. This research will further expose the hidden aspects of these rights which makes it eludes an ordinary Nigerian.

The research work is also intended to benefits students studying law in various

institutions, and also the general public who suffers human rights abuses, legal practitioners in the advocacy of human right, the Nigeria Police Force who are relevant stakeholders of human rights, the courts in their adjudicatory process, law enforcement agent and other relevant stakeholders(be it government or non-government al agent) will find this work handy and easily understandable material as well as to enlighten the public on how to channel their complaint whenever their rights are being violated.

[1] Osita Eze (1984): Human Rights in Africa: some selected problems (Nigerian Institute of International Affairs), Lagos, in Cooperation with Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Ltd. p.38.

[2] Instances of insecurity in Nigeria are numerous, and this include: extrajudicial killings, abduction, kidnapping.

[3] Instance of denial of economic rights are numerous and they including lack of housing, unemployment environment degradation, incessant, fuel scarcity and inadequate medical services.

[4] Introduction to International Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws, ABU, Press, Zaria (1999)

[5] Ladan, M. T. (ed) Strengthening the National Human Rights and the Commission (NHRC) in Human Rights and the Administration of Justice in Nigeria.

[6] Fundamental Rights Enforcement, Legal Text Printing, Lagos (1991)

[7] Cases and Materials, on International Law, Sweet and Maxwell, London, (1998)

[8] Implementation of African Charter, on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Nigeria, Vol. 3, U.J.U, (1986-1990)


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