Requirements For Enforcement of Fundamental Human Rights. Daily Law Tips (Tip 688) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)
One of the commonest reasons that Nigerians go to court is for the enforcement of fundamental human rights, especially against law enforcement agencies. The requirements for filing cases in court for the enforcement of human rights are unique and different from any other type of court procedure in Nigeria. Also, the courts to approach and the types of remedies that a victim can seek are unique and specific. This work will focus on the requirements for filling cases in courts in Nigeria for the enforcement of fundamental human rights under the Constitution of Nigeria.
What Are Fundamental Human Rights?:
Fundamental human rights are the entitlements of persons, they are legally provided by law and cannot be ordinarily denied by any person or government. Fundamental human rights are basic, elementary, mandatory, compulsory and unshakable entitlements of persons, just because the persons are human beings or corporate beings. Fundamental human rights are never purchased rather enjoyed by being a person (human being or corporate being).
The fundamental human rights of persons in Nigeria, are contained in chapter 4 of the constitution of Nigeria. Also, Nigeria has signed a regional instrument (document) that ensures that the fundamental human rights of persons are respected across Africa. The regional law is the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights has expanded the fundamental human rights provided in the constitution of Nigeria.
List of Human Rights Under the Nigerian Constitution:
By the Constitution of Nigeria, the fundamental human rights in Nigeria, are: the Right to Life, the Right to Dignity of Human Person, the Right to Personal Liberty, the Right to Fair Hearing, the Right to Private and Family Life, the Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion, the Right to Freedom of Expression and the Press, the Rights to Peaceful Assembly and Association, the Right to Freedom of Movement, the Right to Freedom from Discrimination and then, the Right to Acquire and Own Immovable Property anywhere in Nigeria.
None of the fundamental human rights is greater or more important than the other. They all are sacred and must be respected. Human rights should never be violated by any person, including law enforcement agencies or agents in any part of Nigeria. Consequently, where there is a violation or even a mere attempted violation of a fundamental human right, the victim and any other person on behalf of the victim, can seek justice against the violator.
Courts that Can Handle Cases of Fundamental Human Rights:
Since fundamental human rights are important, there are punishments for violators of such rights and compensation for victims. Where there is a violation of any fundamental human right or a threat to such right, the court to approach is a State High Court or the Federal High Court. It is easy and fast to get judgment in such cases, because they are urgently treated. It is advisable to engage the services of a good lawyer.
Documents to be Filed in Cases of Fundamental Human Rights:
Where there is a violation or a threat to violate any fundamental human right, the victim or any person on behalf of the victim, may engage the services of a lawyer to sue (drag to court) the violator. The victim is expected to gather evidence (proof of violation or pending violation) to prove his case. Evidence may include, affidavit of witnesses, video recordings, audio recordings, receipts, photographs, emails, letters and any other item to prove violation.
For enforcement of fundamental human rights, a victim or his representative must make a written application to court (often through a lawyer), backed up with an affidavit. The Affidavit must state facts of what has transpired so far and to be attached to the affidavit will be proofs.
Fundamental human rights make human beings to be human beings. Hence, fundamental human rights must be respected at all cost. Where there is a violation of fundamental human rights, the victim or his/her supporters should approach a State High Court or the Federal High Court for enforcement of fundamental human rights.
- Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 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.
- The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (on meaning and nature of fundamental human rights) in the case of RANSOME-KUTI & ORS v. AG FEDERATION & ORS (1985) LPELR-2940(SC)
- The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (on meaning and nature of fundamental human rights) in the case of AGBAI & ORS v. OKOGBUE (1991) LPELR-225(SC)
- The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (on documents for cases of fundamental human rights) in the case of EFCC v. REINL (2020) LPELR-49387(SC)
- The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (on when and why fundamental human rights can be restricted/suspended) in the case of DOKUBO-ASARI v. FRN (2007) LPELR-958(SC).
- The judgment of Supreme Court of Nigeria (on State of Emergency) in the case of ADEGBENRO v. AG OF THE FEDERATION & ORS (1962) LPELR-25118(SC)
- Section 42 of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999.
- The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case LAFIA LOCAL GOVT v. EXECUTIVE GOVT NASARAWA STATE & ORS (2012) LPELR-20602(SC).
- Onyekachi Umah, “Human Rights That Can Never Be Restricted Even In War, Pandemic or State of Emergency (Daily Law Tips [Tip 539]) <https://sabilaw.org/human-rights-that-can-never-be-restricted-even-in-war-pandemic-or-state-of-emergency-daily-law-tips-tip-539-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 2 November 2020.
- Onyekachi Umah, “Does The President/Governors Have Powers To Lockdown Any Part Of Nigeria Or Restrict Human Rights?” (Daily Law Tips [Tip 537]) <https://sabilaw.org/does-the-president-governors-have-powers-to-lockdown-any-part-of-nigeria-or-restrict-human-rights-daily-law-tips-tip-537-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 2 November 2020.
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