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The world is in desperate times, fighting to stop Coronavirus pandemic. Governments have restricted some human rights. No fundamental human rights can be legally violated, although some fundamental human rights can be restricted while a few fundamental human rights can never be restricted, limited or suspended for any reason not even war, crisis, pandemic or by any person. It is alleged that some State Governors have ordered flogging of persons who have no nose mask or hand sanitizers. Having in mind the urgent need to conquer COVID-19, one wonders if such can only be realized through indiscriminate violation of fundamental human rights of persons in Nigeria.

Fundamental Human Rights in Nigeria are sacrosanct. However, during state of emergency or through a justifiable law, some fundamental human rights may be restricted. There are only eight (8) fundamental human rights that can be restricted in Nigeria. And, there are unshakable three (3) fundamental human rights in Nigeria that cannot be restricted, limited or suspended. Not even war, natural disaster, pandemic, crisis or famine can make such fundamental human rights to be restricted.

Generally, the fundamental human rights contained in the constitution of Nigeria are: 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, Rights to Peacful Assembly and Association, Right to Freedom of Movement, Right to Freedom from Discrimination and then, Right to Acquire and Own Immovable Property anywhere in Nigeria.

The eight (8) fundamental human rights that can be restricted in Nigeria during state of emergency or through a justifiable law (like the COVID-19 Regulations or similar laws and regulations in states), are: Right to Private and Family Life, Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion, Right to Freedom of Expression and the Press, Rights to Peacfull Assembly and Association, Right to Freedom of Movement and Right to Acquire and Own Immovable Property anywhere in Nigeria (these 6 can be restricted through justifiable law or regulation). And, also Rights to Life and Right to Personal Liberty (these 2 rights and the above 6 joined together can be restricted under state of emergency).

The untouchable fundamental human rights, that can never be restricted by any person or authority, not even the courts, are; Right to Dignity of Human Persons, Right to Freedom from Discrimination and under the Right to Fair Hearing; the Right not to held guilty of a non-existing offence or to be imposed heavier penalties contrary to law. These fundamental human rights are expressly exempted or omitted from the restrictions on and derogation from fundamental human rights in the constitution. These three (3) specific fundamental human rights cannot and will never be restricted, suspended, limited or suppressed by any law, Act, regulation, executive orders, Presidential directives/proclamation, person, court, legislature, government, institution, organization or security agency in or outside Nigeria.

Note that, any act of pain or suffering, whether physical or mentally, including; flogging, beating, forcefully postures or exercises like frog jump, squats and other cruel, inhuman or dehumanizing treatments are all torture. They are all violations of the Right to Dignity of Human Person. This right cannot be restricted by any person or federal/state law, it is a no-go-area.

Aside being breach of fundamental human rights, torture and dehumanizing treatments are criminal, illegal and punishable with imprisonments for not more than 25 years. Where torture leads to death, the punishment is death. It does not matter if an offender was obeying a superior officer/authority, both the offenders and the so called superior authority as well as onlookers are liable. Whether the superior authority, officer or supervisor is the President of Nigeria, Governor of a state, Head of a law enforcement agency or whatever office, is very immaterial. That an offender was merely obeying commands, signals, directives, orders of government or superiors is also immaterial and not a justification or defence.

Aside imprisonment of an offender by a court, an offender can be sued to court by a victim, his family, his lawyers or any person for enforcement of fundamental human rights. In such cases, among other things, millions of Naira can be paid as damages to a victim by an offender or by the office of an offender. Concerned state’s Attorneys General should be brave to advice their Governors accordingly and avoid further waste of tax payers’ fund on illegalities. Governors and their agents as well as government at all levels must avoid lawlessness in their anti-COVID-19 strategies.

The writer is not unaware of COVID-19 pandemic and governments interventions to end it. The security and welfare of the good people of Nigeria are the primary purpose of government, however government must be lawful and law abiding in achieving such purpose. It is advised that constitutional procedures and statutory processes should be engaged at all times to avoid causing more problems in attempting to solve one. We must conquer COVID-19 without violating fundamental human rights of Nigerians, even when such rights may be restricted. Stay at Home and Stay Healthy.

My authorities are:

1. Sections 14, 20, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 305, 318 and 319 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

2. Sections 1, 2, 3, 8, 13 and 14 of the Anti Torture Act, 2017.

3. The Supreme Court decisions in the case of ADEGBENRO v. AG OF THE FEDERATION & ORS (1962) LPELR-25118(SC)

4. The Supreme Court decision in the case of WILLIAMS v. MAJEKODUNMI (No.2)(1962) LPELR-25044(SC)










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