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This Dissertation aimed at examining the legal framework for the promotion and protection of Human Rights in Nigeria in relation to the existing constitutive international instruments on human rights. In this regard, the sources of information relied upon here are relevant text materials, articles in journal publication, judicial authorities, conference papers, newspapers, magazines and internet materials. However, the justification for this research is that “human rights” in Nigeria has become not only a topical issue but the language of both the oppressors and the oppressed, yet little is known of its meaning and ramification. For example the right to fair hearing is not exclusive to either the accused or the prosecution. Does fair hearing means opportunity to be heard or the inalienable right to be heard? Further the denial of economic rights of human being which is presently being experienced in Nigeria is tantamount to denial of right to life because it is this means of livelihood that keeps a man alive. This unfortunate event is quite worrisome and constituted the statement of problem of this research because consequently there is moral decadence, corruption, lack of patriotisms and insecurity in Nigeria. On this note, the finding of this research (among others) was that there existed a weak institutional infrastructure for the promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria. For example there is no specific law regulating the activities of non-government human rights organizations. Although it must be mentioned here that a bill to that effect is pending before the National Assembly. Finally, it was recommended that various governmental bodies in Nigeria must be strengthened and made effective by specific regulatory Act especially the National Human Rights Commission.



1.1       Background to the Study

This work examines the role of Non-Governmental Organisation in the promotion and

protection of Human Rights in Nigeria. The importance attached to the concept of human rights

has assumed phenomenal dimension since the Second World War when it became clear that

universal respect for human rights isCondicio sine qua non for world peace and process. At the

local level, the malevolent dictatorship of military juntas sensitized Nigerians to their human

rights and the need to defend them. This era of military dictatorship also witnessed an upsurge in

the emergence of non-governmental human rights organization across the country particularly in

the South.

The expression “human rights” in its widest connotation embraces those civil, political,

economic, social, cultural, group, solidarity, and developmental rights which are considered

indispensable to a meaningful human existence. “Right”, here is used in composite sense and not

in the strict legal sense. Legal human rights are those human rights that are guaranteed by

positive law (lexlata). Thus, Osita Eze defines human rights as representing demands or claims

which individuals or groups make on society some of which are protected by law and have

become part of ex lata while others remain aspirations to be attained in future.1

Human rights are inherent rights to be enjoyed by all human beings of the global village

and not gifts to be withdrawn, withheld or granted at some one‟s whim or will. In this sense, they

1 Osita Eze (1984): Human Rights in Africa: some selected problems (Nigerian Institute of International Affairs), Lagos, in Cooperation with Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Ltd. p.38.


are said to be inalienable, imprescriptible. If they are removed from any human being, he will

become less than human. They are part of the very nature of human being, and attach to all

human being everywhere in all societies, but as much as do his arms and legal, Constitutions and

other codes do not create human rights but declare and preserve existing rights, perhaps, this is

why statutory provisions for the first generation human rights are couched in negative terms, for

example, to say that no person shall be deprived of his personal liberty pre-supposes that

personal liberty is an existing right.

However, the justification for this research is that “human rights” has become not only a

topical issue in Nigeria but the language of both the oppressors and the oppressed. Yet little is

known of its meaning and ramifications because practically human rights is not fully observed in

Nigeria. This is evident in the fact of recent Nigeria has witnessed serious breaches of Human

Rights such as the kidnapping, abductions, unjust killing and terrorist attacks. On this note the

objective of this research is to identify reasons for the occurrence of these events in relation to

the adequacy or otherwise of the provisions of the existing laws in Nigeria.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Principal statement of problem in this research is that in Nigeria there is gross and

massive violation of people‟s right have led to total lost of confidence in the government by her

citizenry. For example the senses of insecurity have led to individuals devising private means of

protection.2 The consequence is total disrespect for the government.

Another related problem is the denial of economic right of human beings is tantamount to

denial of right to life because it is the means of livelihood that keep a man alive, deprived a man

2 Instances of insecurity in Nigeria are numerous, and this

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