Content                                                                                                      Page

Title Page                                                                                                                    i

Certification                                                                                                                ii

Dedication                                                                                                                  iii

Acknowledgements                                                                                                    iv

Abstract                                                                                                                      v

Table of Contents                                                                                                       vi

List of Tables                                                                                                              vii


1.1       Background to the Study                                                                               1

1.2       Statement of the Problem                                                                    3

1.3       Objective of the Study                                                                                   4

1.4       Research Questions                                                                                         5

1.5       Significance of the Study                                                                               5
1.6       Scope of the Study                                                                                         5

1.7       Operational Definition of Terms                                               6

1.8       Plan of the Study                                                                                            7


2.0       Introduction                                                                                                    8

2.1       Views of early philosophers on human rights                                  8

2.2       Contemporary Definitions of Human Rights                                   12

2.3       Evolution of human rights in Nigeria                                                  15

2.4       Constitutional Provision of Human Rights                                        16

2.5       Types of Human Rights                                                                       23

2.5.1    Civil and political rights                                                                         23 Civil Rights                                                                                                     23 Political rights                                                                                                24

2.5.2    Economic, Social and Cultural Rights                                                   24

2.6       Types of Human Rights Abuses                                                      27

2.6.1    Human trafficking and its forms                                                           27

2.6.2      Extrajudicial killings and its Forms                                                    33

2.6.3      Torture and other Degrading treatments                                          37

2.6.4      Types of Human Rights Violation and the Human                42

Rights Commission’s Treatment (2011-2014)           

2.7         Human Rights Advocacy Civil Society                                             45       

Organizations in Nigeria        

2.8         International dimensions of human rights                                          48

2.9         Theoretical framework                                                                      50

2.9.1      Theory of Natural Rights                                                            50

2.9.2      Summary of Literature Review                                                 52


3.0         Introduction                                                                                        54

3.1         Research Design                                                                      54

3.2         Population                                                                                         54

3.3         Sample size and sampling Technique                                                  54

3.4         Research Instrument                                                                           55

3.5         Validity and Reliability of Instrument                                              56

3.6         Data Collection Procedure                                                                56

3.7         Method of Data Analysis                                                                       56

3.8         Ethical Consideration                                                                      56

3.9         Limitations of the Methodology                                                           57



4.0         Introduction                                                                                     58

4.1         Respondents Characteristics and Classification                      58

4.2         Purposive Questions and Discussion of Findings                       59



5.1         Summary                                                                                        68

5.2         Conclusion                                                                                           69

5.3         Recommendations                                                                70

5.4         Contribution to Knowledge                                                                   71

5.5         Suggestion for Further Studies                                                      71

5.6         Limitation of the Study                                                                   72

REFERENCES                                                                                                     74


                                                LIST OF TABLES

Table                                                                                         Page

1                                                                                              40

2                                                                                              43



  • Background to the Study

Attempting to totally eradicate crime and corruption in any society of the world may seem abortive. The reason for this is not farfetched. Conflict is innate in man. This implies that every human being has the propensity to defend himself/herself when there is perceived threat to one‘s life. This suggests the reason why Coser (2006) argues that conflict is instinctual for us, so we find it everywhere in human society. Humans have the ability to be both aggressive and altruistic in behavior. However, the behavior shown depends on a host of developmental, social and circumstantial factors. There is violent conflict which may involve the use of arms.But there is also the conflict that we find in our daily lives and relationships. Coser sees conflict as a normal and functional part of human life, and believes that most social conflict is based on the unequal distribution of scarce resources. This altogether brings into lime light the idea of allocation of rights to every citizen cut across the globe to reduce conflict.

Every person the world over is entitled to human rights. It has become a globally recognized and accepted notion that individuals possess certain definite political, civil, economic and social rights which governments have the duty and responsibility to protect and enforce such rights, (National Open University of Nigeria Study Guide, 2014). Wright posits that these rights include the right to life, the right to an adequate standard of living, freedom from torture and other maltreatment, freedom of religion and expression, freedom of movement, the right to self-determination, the right to education, and the right to participation in cultural and political life, (Yusuf, 2014).

The history of human rights can be traced to past documents, particularly the Al-Risalah al-Huquq (659-713),  Magna Carta (1215),  the English Bill of Rights (1689),  the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789),  and the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution (1791).The idea of human rights in Nigeria dates back beyond the advent of colonial rule. Human rights and Fundamental freedoms were acknowledged in the traditional Nigerian societies. But the idea of rights was not conceived in the modern notion as we have it now. Such values as right to family, kin and clan membership, freedom of thought and conscience, speech, belief and association, right to enjoy private property and right to participate in governance of the affairs of the society were protected, (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2006).Subject to the fact that respect for human rights would engender peace both locally and internationally, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution No. 48/134 of 20th December 1993 implored all her member states to establish National Human Rights Institutions relative to their environment, (National Human Rights Commission, 2007).

Through this medium, the National Human Rights Commission was established in Nigeria following the (NHRC) Act of 1995 which gained potency in 1996 to spring into action (although it was amended by the NHRC Act, 2010). The Act saddles the commission with the authority to deal extensively with human rights issues while taking into consideration the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It enforces its power by protecting the poor, weak and vulnerable, and other victims of human rights violation by offering free services which are supposed to be accessible to the public.

Series of incidents of humanrights violation give the impression that the rights of the citizens are not adequately protected by the commission. Such violations of rights which include torture, extrajudicial killing, human trafficking, unlawful detention, and so on are noted in details in subsequent chapters. Before the new beginning of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, successive military regimes violated the rights of Nigerians without remorse. The height of violations of rights was observed during the military rule of Abacha (1993-1998) with the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and eight other Ogoni non-violent human rights activists, (Alka, 2011).

After the dawn of democracy, civilian leaders similarly violated the rights of citizens. Unlawful and extra-judicial killings, torture, cruel and inhuman treatments from the armed forces were meted out to citizens under the civilian rule. An example of such according to Animashaun (2013) is the case of Godwin Anuka, a bus driver who was shot by a police constable on the 2nd of March 2005, due to his refusal to bribe the police at the check point in Makurdi, Benue State. This act is however contrary to section 33 of the 1999 constitution on the right to life, which states that: “Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, except in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria”

Despite the legal provisions concerning the enforcement of human rights, the situation in Nigeria continues to deteriorate as various issues of the same violations continue to occur. Over 50 years of independence, the Nigerian society continues to face varying violations of their basic rights. Therefore, this research was carried outin order to examine the role and efforts of the Human Rights Commission in the protection of the rights of Nigerian citizens as the constant violation of human rights are recorded daily in our societies. This was done through the utilization of secondary data (Qualitative Research) such as journals, articles, texts e.t.c concerning the discourse of this work from the internet and hard copy documents. To amplify the data and information received from the secondary source, interviews of human rights officials were conducted. As a guide to this study, John Locke’s theory of “Natural Rights” is adopted.

1.2         Statement of the Problem

Human rights violation is a phenomenon that has somewhat become a pronounced tradition which results to a gross violation of human rights in the Nigerian. Adetoro & Omiyefa (2014) described human rights violations as becoming a culture of impunity in the country. These violations usually involve degrading and ill-treatments meted out on individuals who are supposed to be protected by the state. Ancillary to that, the researcher observes that violations of the rights to security and protection of life causes fear and insecurity in the Nigerian society. Important to note however, is that security is an important criterion for human existence and coexistence.

During the military era, little or no concern was given to human rights by the government. In the Fourth Republic however, democratic rule is governed by a constitution which entrenches human rights protection. Yet, violations of all sorts, both by criminal minded citizens and the state officials are being perpetrated with impunity. More than 400 people lost their lives to inter-communal conflict in Nigeria’s Middle Belt States and scores were rendered homeless from these clashes in 2013. The Middle Belt is a human geographical term designating the region of central Nigeria populated largely by minority ethnic groups and stretching across the country longitudinally. These include Kwara State, Kogi State, Benue State, Plateau State, Nasarawa State, Niger State, Taraba State, Adamawa State as well as the southern parts of Kaduna State, Kebbi State, Bauchi State, Gombe State, Yobe State and Borno State. The states specifically affected by the conflict were Benue State, Taraba State and Plateau State (Human Rights Watch, 2017).

Ancillary to this, the judiciary remained nominally free from interference and pressures from other branches of the government, but corruption did impede pursuit of justice. Poverty and corruption continued to afflict the oil-rich Niger Delta, while the weakness of anti-corruption institutions in government inhibited the realization of social and economic rights and the fair transparent functioning of the public and private sectors.

Even with the establishment of the Human Rights Commission (HRC)and other human rights organizations in Nigerian, human rights violation of different forms (such as kidnapping, extrajudicial killing, unlawful arrest and detention, torture, human trafficking among others) are still recorded on daily basis. Horrific abuses in the northern part of the country by the Islamist militant group ‘Boko Haram’ and the Nigerian security forces’ heavy-handed response to this violence has dominated Nigeria’s human rights atmosphere over the years since 2013. In may 2013 for instance, Former President Goodluck Jonathan imposed a state of emergency, which was extended for another three months in November in the three states (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) where Boko Haram is most active. The emergency failed to put a stop to the atrocities and protect civilians. All these are crimes against humanity (Human Rights Watch 2017).

 Compendiously, the level of human rights violation in Nigeria gives the country a bad reputation in the international system and altogether insecurity to the citizens at large.

1.3         Objective of the StudyThe general objective of this study is to identify the challenges facing the Human Rights Commission in protecting the rights of Nigerian peoples within the years of 2011 and 2015. The specific objectives are to: