Nigeria recently has been plagued with abused Rule of Law and utter disregard for Fundamental Human Rights. Nigeria gained Independence in 1960 but events in the past few weeks have left Nigerians and the whole world wondering if we’re truly independent and to what extent. Nigeria also prides itself as a democratic state and celebrates same on June 12. This celebration marks the end of the military government and the continuous rule of Civilian Governments but unfolding events seem to attest to the fact that we are still under military rule.
Over time, the country has been a signatory to many treaties and has ratified some of these treaties thereby making them enforceable in Nigeria. A good example is the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights that was adopted by the United Nations and is binding on all countries that are parties to it. Nigeria is one of the countries.
The Article provides for the recognition of the fundamental human rights of all persons regardless of gender, race, sex, belief, sexual or political beliefs etc. The Articles in the UDHR clearly attests to the right of human dignity of all persons and the supremacy of the law over all. However, the rights of the common man in Nigeria is being violated.
Nigeria Youths and Fundamental Human Rights
On the 10th December of every year, the United Nations celebrates the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) and seeks to evaluate the journey so far in recognizing the fundamental human rights of every person. The Theme for this year is “Youth standing up for Human Rights” . This is an attempt to which recognizes the power of the youth in creating an all-inclusive environment for all regardless of gender, social status, religion, orientation etc.
Youths have often been marginalized in decision making because of their age but they have always been at the forefront of grassroots mobilization towards positive change and sustainable development. However, with the recent happenings in Nigeria, it is imperative to ask if the rights of the youths in Nigeria are being recognized/protected. Youths are being robbed and attacked by the same institutions/agencies that have been saddled with the responsibility to protect same.
Nigeria and Rule of Law are Two Parellel Lines
To cap it all, the country is being governed by a leader with no respect for the rule of law. The present day government is a military regime in a democratic cloak. The right of expression is being restricted by the Social media bill and the Hate Speech Bill, the fear of being imprisoned, the right to life and security is being threatened by thieves, robbers, security agents. If this despotic, authoritarian and oppressive disposition toward human rights and the rule of law continues, what then is the hope for a Nigerian Youth? Is the labour of our heroes past not in vain? Is this the Nigeria they fought to create?
Evidence of Rule of Law Degredation in Nigeria
Last week, after Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja ordered the release of the activist Omoyele Sowore, the State Security Service invaded the court room to forcibly re-arrest the convener of the #Revolutionnow movement. The judge ordered that the court’s judgment on November 6 had to be complied with that her November 6 order must be complied with and Mr Sowore must be released from custody or senior officials of the SSS would be held in criminal contempt.
However, the activist was released only to be re-arrested during a court proceeding and wheeled back to the SSS headquarters. Asides the violation of the rights listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights such as equality before the law and to entitlement without any discrimination to equal protection of the law; the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law; the right to not be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile; the rights protected by the constitution of the country such as respect for the dignity of humans as provided for in Section 34 has also been grossly infringed upon.
It is worthy to note that in the cases involving Dasuki Metuh, Ibrahim El Zakzaky and the Federal Government, the President also refused to honour the decision of the court and this begs the question “Is the President above the law”?
The British High Commission in Nigeria, in a tweet, stated
“As we celebrate #HumanRightDay, we encourage all political, state and non-state actors to uphold the ideals set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed 71 years ago today. We are following closely the continued detention of #Sowore. Respect for the rule of law and free and responsible speech is fundamental for #democracy. The UK is committed to defending and strengthening human rghts worldwide and, as we conclude #16DaysofActivism, working to end gender based violence”.British High Commission
The provisions of the UDHR should be fully adhered in the trial and conviction of a supposed offender and the court of competent jurisdiction should be allowed to decide the liability of the supposed offender and not arbitrarily arrested and detained against public opinion. A situation where a court has given an order that was openly flouted by a security agency is a kick against the rule of law and shouldn’t be given a place in our country.