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Know Your Rights Series (Part 1)

Know Your Rights Series (Part 1) I Am A Citizen Of Nigeria, Are You

Know Your Rights Series (Part 1)
I Am A Citizen Of Nigeria, Are You
By Fejiro Ogheneare

Let me give a little background for this article. One day at home, I was in a conversation with my parents, I was trying to enlighten my Dad on the operational laws of tenancy in Lagos State and my Mom asked me a salient question ‘dey no de tell pesin all these laws sef?’ That question had me thinking. Here am I, a 200-level undergraduate law student who is being trained with the Latin Maxim: ‘Ignorantia juris non excusat’ (ignorance of the law is not an excuse), but what attempts are being made by the lawmakers and those who interpret and enforce the law to educate the people on these laws. Legal education should not be for legal practitioners alone, rather it should include the masses because they are the very ones affected by these laws.
To begin this article properly, we must define who a citizen is. A citizen simply put, is someone who is a member of a particular commune, organization, or nation-state and by that very fact, he or she is obligated to perform certain duties and enjoy certain rights. The emphasis for the remaining part of this article will be on the last part of this definition which puts across to us that a citizen has duties and rights which he/she should perform and enjoy respectively.
Rights and Duties here mean almost the same thing as their ordinary English definitions. Sadly, a lot of us are aware of our duties, but we know very little about our rights, and we are not entirely to blame. The system we live in has revealed to us the duties and kept us in the dark about our rights. Duties are propagated every day via TV commercials, radio adverts, posters, and the like. These duties include things like paying your tax, respect for national symbols, and a host of others. Painfully, our rights as citizens haven’t been propagated with as much fervor and many continue to remain in the dark on what are their entitlements as citizens of this great country.
The purpose of this article, therefore, is to systematically unravel these rights, in plain, easy-to-understand English and by so doing, empower you to assert these rights. All of the fundamental rights of a Nigerian citizen are contained in Chapter IV of the Nigerian Constitution which consists of Section 33 to Section 46. Let us examine them in turn and get ourselves acquainted with what those rights provide.
Section 33 of the Nigerian Constitution says, ‘Every person has a right to life…’ This is the first fundamental right of every citizen of Nigeria. However, this right is not absolute, it is a limited right. This means that it has certain exceptions to it. When any of the exceptions are fulfilled, this right will not operate. What are the exceptions then? They are four in number and they are
A death sentence for a criminal offence for which he/she was found guilty of
Killing someone as an act of self-defense
Murder in an attempt to arrest a person or prevent the escape of a lawfully detained person.
Killing someone or some persons To suppress a riot, or other forms of civil unrest.

There you have it. This is the first and most basic right of a Nigerian Citizen, the Right to Life. We’ll discuss more fundamental rights in the subsequent articles. Till next time.

Know Your Rights Series (Part 1)


This work is published under the free legal awareness project of Sabi Law Foundation ( funded by the law firm of Bezaleel Chambers International ( The writer was not paid or charged any publishing fee. You too can support the legal awareness projects and programs of Sabi Law Foundation by donating to us. Donate here and get our unique appreciation certificate or memento.


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One Response

  1. I?¦m now not sure where you’re getting your info, however good topic. I needs to spend a while studying more or understanding more. Thank you for magnificent info I was looking for this info for my mission.

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