Human rights in simple parlance are those rights accruable to us as humans whether it is protected by law or not. Once you are a human, you have these rights. Fundamental human rights on the other hand are human rights protected by law. They are listed in Chapter four of our 1999 Constitution as amended, which is the Supreme Law over the land of Nigeria. There are eleven rights listed from Section 33 to Section 43.
ü Right to life: this is provided in section 33. You have a right to live and be alive and the law protects that except in exceptional circumstances like where a judge has pronounced a death sentence or someone is killed in self defense commensurate to the attack, or in defense of property or while preventing escape of a person lawfully detained among other things.
ü Right to dignity of human person: Section 34. You have a right that your dignity as a human person is maintained and not scorched. You can’t be a slave or be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment whether by actions or words or written statements.
ü Right to personal liberty: Section 35. You are free to move around and be yourself. Your liberty is protected by the law though with exceptions. E.g where you are not up to 18, your liberty may be restrained for the purpose of your welfare, that’s the essence of having parents. Where a person is suffering a contagious disease or is of unsound mind and the like, liberty can be restrained. Where a person commits a crime and is arrested, the liberty is also lawfully restrained.
ü Right to fair hearing: Section 36. This right covers a large expense of situations, all listed in the said section 36. But it generally relates to where a person’s rights and obligations are being questioned. In simple parlance, where a person has been accused of wrong doing and is brought before a court, he is entitled to be heard. Where you are taken before a court or judge or magistrate and he does not hear from you but only the other side, his judgement on the matter is not only questionable but void, carries no water and you can appeal against it. This right also provides that where a person is arrested for a crime, he should be taken to court within reasonable time and not left to rot in holding cells. This right also provides that a person taken to court should be given enough time to prepare his defense and should be seen and treated as innocent until the courts say otherwise.
ü Right to private and family life: Section 37. You have a right to maintain a private family life without people prying into it unnecessarily. Your homes, conversations, telegraphic communications are protected by law and your right to privacy.
ü Right to Freedom of thought, conscience and religion: you are free to have whatever thoughts you deem necessary, to be free to your conscience and you also have a right to indulge in whatever religion you find fitting to you and no one can make you do otherwise. Section 38.
ü Right to Freedom of Expression and the press: you are free to express your thoughts and feelings so long as you are not slandering another. You are free to hold opinions and impart ideas and information without interference from another. You are a free to own a medium of disseminating your ideas and information as I’m doing with this blog.*winks* Section 39.
ü Right to peaceful assembly and association: Section 40. You are free to with other persons in any particular form or belong to any group or union or political party of your choice. You are free also not to be a member of any union or club, it’s all your choice and the law protects whatever you choose to do. There are exceptions though. For e.g Secret Societies are prohibited by law.
ü Right to Freedom of movement: Section 41. You are free to move around Nigeria as a whole, to go wherever you want to. You are free to reside in any part you choose to. Restriction of your movement is unlawful except in cases where it is permitted by law, that is for example, where a person has been arrested for a crime, such restriction is allowed by the law.
ü Right to freedom from discrimination: Section 42. No discrimination shall be placed on you because you are a girl or you are of a certain religion or you are from a certain community or because you have a certain political opinion. Where you get restrictions or loose advantages or privileges as a result of any of these factors because of some law or administrative action, you have a right to protest and it is backed by law.
ü Right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria: you have a right to buy and own land anywhere in Nigeria whether you are a native of such place or not.
These rights existed as a means of stamping out old customary practices affecting peaceful human existence on earth, such as killing of twins, terming some people as outcasts or slaves (discrimination), sentencing a person without hearing him out. All of these rights have exceptions listed in the sections providing for them, that is, situations where these rights will be derogated from. However, beyond those mentioned, when any of these rights are violated, you have the right to protest by laying a complaint before a judge or magistrate in a court of law. You have a right, don’t let it be trampled on unnecessarily.
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