THE ROLE OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION IN THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

This Dissertation 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.

CHAPTER ONE GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 Background to the Study

This work examines the role of Non-Governmental Organisation in the promotion and protection 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 isCondicio 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.

THE ROLE OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION IN THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN NIGERIA