Chai! Why do I feel like our counterparts in other societies have it going better than us? Like their rights are shiny like Gold that’s in your face but then ours are like those chains that are shiny like Gold but then after being worn for a long time (or day in day out) become ever so rusty.
What essentially am I saying? Those in the UK or America have their rights being upheld like shiny Gold but ours… no comments just think of that chain.
Fact is, they go through the same things we go through. A few days ago Nipsey Hussle was killed in an LA shooting and the alleged suspect is already in police custody. Also recently, our Kolade Johnson was shot by a strayed bullet from a trigger-happy SARS officer. Luckily, after the story went viral on social media, the SARS officials have reportedly been caught. We say luckily, because it is not on many occasions that we have criminals being brought to book on this side of the world. So if you find yourself in a rut, here are pointers to your right that can actually save your life.
As a Nigerian Citizen we have:
— A right to life (Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution (“The Constitution”));
This is the right that everyone has to ‘exist’, and no one can intentionally deprive a person of this right, either an individual or the Government, unless in the execution of a sentence of the court in respect of a criminal offence. In a nutshell, what this right says is that no one can take your life unless you have carried out a capital crime, you have been tried by a competent court, found guilty and sentenced to death. So you see those SARS killings, they are a violation of human rights, hence the importance of the protests against police brutality.
— A right to dignity of human persons (Section 34 of the Constitution);
This right basically means that every Nigerian has a right to not be subjected to torture or inhuman/degrading treatment, and no Nigerian should be held in circumstances which amount to slavery or servitude. It also provides that no one should be required to perform forced or compulsory labour. So if you find yourself in police custody and they want to torture you, here’s the right to read to them.
— A right to personal liberty (Section 35 of the Constitution);
This means that no individual must be deprived of his or her right to liberty or freedom unless it’s in accordance with the law. (How do you treat your house helps? They have rights, you know).
Where a person is detained in lawful custody he/she has the following rights:
- Right to remain silent and not answer any questions unless/until speaking to a Lawyer
- Right to be informed in writing, within 24 hours, of the facts and grounds for his arrest or detention.
- To be brought before a court within a reasonable time, and if not tried within 2 months (for individuals in custody/not entitled to bail) and 3 months (for individuals released on bail), they shall be released either unconditionally or upon such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears for trial at a later date (without prejudice to any further proceedings that may be brought against the individual)
- Not to be kept awaiting trial in detention for a period longer than the maximum period of imprisonment for the offence he/she is accused of.
— A right to fair hearing (Section 36 of the Constitution);
This right guarantees that in the determination of an individual’s civil rights and obligations a person shall be entitled to “a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.”
— A right to family and private life (Section 37 of the Constitution);
The 1999 Constitution guarantees and protects “the privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications..” So using phone recordings as evidence in a court case is unlawful. Recording people’s phone call conversations without their permission is unlawful.
— A right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Section 38 of the Constitution);
This right guarantees that an individual may manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance. It also guarantees the right of an individual to change his religion or belief.
— A right to freedom of expression at the press (Section 39); a right to freely express yourself, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without inference.
— A right to peaceful assembly and association (Section 40 of the Constitution);
You are free to belong to any political party, trade union or other association, but not a secret society.
— A right to freedom of Movement and reside in any part of the country (Section 41 of the Constitution);
So stop being afraid to travel to the North (you are allowed to do that by law), and stop thinking the Yorubas won’t let you build a house in the West, the law protects you.
— A right to freedom from discrimination on the ground of sex, race, tribe, creed or political opinion or association (Section 42 of the Constitution);
— The right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria. (Section 43 of the Constitution)
Buy your lands, acquire your properties any where in Nigeria and this right covers you. Forget those thugs that try to scare you, and just report them to the law.
These are the rights we have that are backed up by Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These rights can be classified into two;
alienable rights (rights that are capable of being taken away or rights that can be transferred e.g right to property/ right to acquire property); and
inalienable rights (rights that cannot be taken away from you/transferred).
Inalienable rights are personal, fundamental and civil rights. These rights are personal and after death cannot be transferred to another. Examples of these rights are a right to life, a right to personal liberty, a right to dignity of human persons, a right to freedom from discrimination, a right to movement, (Basically 1-10 above). These are rights that if trampled upon must be upheld by the victim/person affected) and rights which after death can no longer be upheld by the administrators or next of kin.
It’s not enough to have rights, these rights need to be enforceable. It is very intricate and essential that we know our rights. However it is up to the Government to ensure that the Constitution is upheld by enforcing these Rights.
Till next time…
Reference – Lawpadi.com
Photo credit: Repeatingislands.com
By Adesola Osuntoki