Basic Fundamental Human Rights of Citizens of Nigeria
In 1948, the United Nations Organization (UNO) adopted a convention known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many of the rights enshrined in the United Nations Declaration are incorporated in the constitutions of UNO member countries. Nigeria is not an exception.
The fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens are listed in Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution as follows:
- Right to life;
- Right to dignity of human person;
- Right to personal liberty;
- Right to fair hearing;
- Right to private and family life;
- Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
- Right to freedom of expression and the press;
- Right to peaceful assembly and association;
- Right to freedom of movement;
- Right to freedom from discrimination
- Right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria.
These rights are enforceable as the individual can assert them in the High Court as provided in Section 46 of the 1999 Constitution.
This is a marked improvement on the 1979 constitution whose provision on fundamental human rights could not be enforced. There are also in Chapter Two of the constitution what it styled as Fundamental Objectlves and Directive Principles of State Policy. They include right to education, right to work, etc. But they are not enforceable.
Civil Liberty: Rights of Citizenship
Rights of the citizens consists of the rights and privileges which the state creates and protects for its subjects (the people). The most impcntant of these rights are:
- The right to life: This is the foremost of all the rights. The state imposes maximum penalty of capital punishment on those who attempt to kill others and also attempts suicide.
- The right to work: In some countries, the legal right to work is recognised. The right to work however cannot mean the right to a particular work.
- Personal safety and freedom: Blackstone, in his writing, describes this right as a person’s legal and uninterrupted enjoyment ofhis life. Thus, aperson may not be wounded, assaulted, or imprisoned, except by the process of law.
- Religious freedom: The right of following one’s own religious faith and worship has however come to be gradually recognised by modern states.
- Education: The extent of this vary from state to state. For example in Britain, parents have the right to demand free education for their children in a public elementary school. In some countries, education is not a le gal right.
- The right of association: In most countries, one can readily find different voluntary groups or associations and they are mainly out to promote the interest of their members-socially, religiously and economically.
- Property: The right to private property is fundamental in most countries. It is argued that the right to own property is derived from nature not from man and the state has no right to abolish it, but only to control its use.
- Freedom of speech, public meeting and publication: This is the right to say or write what one feels provided it is not seditious, blasphemous or defamatory.