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Nigeria has a long history of the violation of human rights. its   commonly believed that human rights violation in Nigeria has colonial roots, in an effort to consolidate and expand their power but even so, years after independence the Nigerian citizen continue to face constant violation of their basic rights. Nigeria has experience a mix of period of military and civilian rule. The military rule in Nigeria became a symbol of great authoritarianism after every military coup, the government suspended the constitution and, this absolved itself of the accountability toward its people. Similarly the civilian rule also came to be characterized by the institutional failure in observing people rights in order to hold on to power. The civilian leaders denied freedom of expression, practiced unlawfully and extra judicial killing and rigged elections. The purpose of this topic is to explore issues of human rights violations after independence between the years 1970-1990.



                                  Chapter one

1.1. Introduction

                        The established features of democracy with its provision of the constitution that regulates the behaviors of both the ruling government and citizens, as enshrined in the constitution had positioned the ultimate principle that political power belong to the entire people and not restricted to the few representatives of the government. The doctrine of separation of power and check and balances, as propounded by Montesquieu, cardinal principle of democracy, which ensures the distinctiveness and independence of the three arms of government at various levels. The issues of the violation of human rights has assumed center stage of the various regional grouping and have vigorously been mandated by international agreements and treaties, to always obey the fundamental principles of human rights.¹

Its equally good to state that the fundamental principle of human rights and its violation are majorly characterized during the military era and dictatorship regimes, because the military regime is an aberration and not a form of governments, the military then protect the unconstitutional and inhuman acts, and in the bid to do this, the fundamental human rights of the citizens are trampled upon.³

Over the years various measures have been adopted by international institutions and organizations to reduce the trends of the violation on the fundamental human rights at various countries, most cases sanctions have been imposed which on its own, is another way of violating the rights of ordinary man. even though we say that the violation of the human rights is an attributes to military regime, it is equally important to note that democracy till date are found to be violating human rights especially during the democratic dispensation of 1999 to present.

This study will be limited to military regime in Nigeria, as well as various cases of violation of human rights during the democratic government.¹




1.2 Background of the study

The core of the consciousness of human rights in the realization that institutions, states, countries and other collative human rights are those fundamental human rights enjoyed by citizens or individuals in the context of their relationship with one another in a given society, again the oxford dictionary defines violation as to go against or refuse to obey a law. Considering the nature of this work, it will be out place if the historical ascendants of this important subject are over look .by 1914, Nigeria as a nation was born equal to the amalgamation of the north and south protectorates from the period to 1960, Nigeria pass through several constitutions, notably Macpherson constitution of 1951, Oliver Littleton’s constitution of 1954 and 1956 constitution. Though there were other constitutions but the above mentioned above are important because they formed the major ingredients in the formation of the independent constitution.¹

These constitutions according to critic have nothing to say about the human right, also none of the pre-independent constitution was designed with any formation to save guide human rights. As the call for independence intensified by the nationalist, the minorities were afraid that they will be dominated by the three ethnic groups. They then urged the colonial masters to create states to ally their fears before the independent will be granted. a minority commission was set up under the commission of Sir Willink. The commission ended up without recommending the creation of more states rather it recommended that entrenchment of fundamental human rights. This eventually formed the basis for the inclusion of the fundamental human rights in Nigeria independence constitution of 1960.after Nigeria had gotten independence by 1960 the fundamental human rights created were violated in an attempt to project tribal goals.¹


1.3. Scope of the study

                       As earlier stated, this study will carry out the complete surgery of the various cases of violation of human rights in Nigeria from 1970-1999.however, we shall draw out various cases of human rights violation in Nigeria and the various summit held at the international level against the scourge, even though the study takes us to another level .i.e that is to say it may involve other countries as well.


1.4. Aims and objectives

Every researchers work is aimed at certain achievements. Firstly in a country like Nigeria with multiplicity of ethnic groups the issue of fundamental human rights has to be heated so much in other to create the illiterate masses on the protection of their rights. in another development, the various successive government in Nigeria have not given a considerable concern for the protection of the fundamental principles of human right as enshrined in the charter establishing the U.N to the international organization of the first category has grown sour. This work is aimed at bringing back the relationship to its cardinal states.

More also, over the years the independence of the judiciary which is an arm of the government, responsible for the protection and guidance of the fundamental human right have not been guarantee, this happened especially during the military era where the constitution are relegated for degrees and the count for tribunals, we aim here to ensure the independence of the judiciary which will usher in the protection of the fundamental human right and increase the living of man.

Again there is an urgent need to give kudos to organizations and activists who have stood tall against dictatorship and the violation of the fundamental human right. Some of these activists include Beko Ransome, Kuti Olisah, Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Gani Feweyihomi, etc.

In Fact, the aims and objective of this work is exhaustible but the bottom line is to create an environment where the rights of man are given due protection by law and people.


1.5. Significance of the study

The significance of the study is to shed new light on what is already in our legal code (Constitution) per see, but it is to remind the citizen of there basic human rights as humans and in turn spur them to pursue these rights no matter what.

This work will equally as envisaged stir consciousness of any government of the danger ahead in attempt


1.6. Organization of work

This study is organized to critically access various chapters. Each chapters counting relevant information as regards the project topic (Human Violation). More also, each chapter carries significant data and broad details which involves both the human right aspects and its various cases of its violations in Nigeria from 1970-1999.

Chapter one addresses issues that constitute the setting of the entire study. It focuses on preliminary themes namely, the historical background, the scope of the study, the aims and objectives of the study, the significant of the study, literature review, methodology and organization of the work.

Chapter two talks about the political aspect of human rights and also the military ass related to human rights violations.

Chapter three emphasizes on the economic, social, cultural dimension of the human rights violation 1990-1991. Chapter four is the implementation of the international human right in Nigeria while the final chapter summarizes and brings the work to a conclusion.


 1.7 Conceptual clarification

Analysis of social reality like (Human right) ultimately depends on the methodological preference of the writer. Undoubtedly, human right with the view to extract the meaning has always resulted in controversy. These right are to be a set of right guaranteed under a legal system which is activated either when or where there is a threats to these rights.

According to “Osita Eze” it is not concerned with variables like economic, political and social factors, but the rights gives them their substances whereas “the former social of thought maintained that these rights attached to the individual because, its a human being and between those rights which are in capacity or character of a man and his citizenship right as a member of the society.²

The basis for which the Jew resisting the authority under the pharaoh and the Greek respectively who sought to stop social conflicts, also this background formed the basic behind the oppression of the people by the rich even when the sophists rejects the idea of the universal law, But owing to the fact that natural law explicitly provides basic for natural rights. this marked its decline and subsequently unable to find its footing at the wake of the renaissances and the secularization of the states ’’natural rights’’²

The sociological school (a variation of the positivist school) admits the impact of mental legal by insisting that the society must be organized by considering the social factors and implementation of the law. a particular viewed point school optioned that there should be a social factor in the implementation of the law. In fact a particular view point optioned that there should be a social engineering that will bring about efficient structure which will satisfy people wants. According to critics, this school failed to address the role of states and it its inter-relationship with economic and political structure in other words, class character of states power and the law not addressed.

Having said this, it is important to note that human rights are associated with the concepts of justice and also different phases of social economic formation. Justice is what controls the political economy, determined to be based on the conditionality’s that relates to there objective interest. Again the fact that human rights and justice are administered into the context of a given society. it is therefore believed that the legislature , executive and judiciary makes and enforce laws, protect interest primarily for the promotion of their class position.

As these powers centers, the use of instruments of manipulation is available to them to impose basic inequalities, which are against what the people consider as there basic right. There is bound to be injustice, tension and instability. the fundamental human rights are grouped into five which are Civil, Political, Social, Economic and Cultural.³

Civil and political rights includes the right to self determination, to life, freedom from slavery and forced labour, the right to fair trial, right to privacy, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of opinion and expression, the right of assembly, freedom of association, the right to marry and found a family, the right to participate in ones government either directly or through freely elected representatives and the right to nationality and equality before the law.³

Economic, social and cultural rights embraced the second generation of rights inter allies (i.e. among others) the right to work, the right to condition of work, the right to property, the right to education, the right to participate in cultural life and to enjoy the rights to scientific progress. Further more history shows that political right /civic rights (First generation rights) came into existence long before the 19th century, while the economic, social and cultural rights came inter respectively.⁴

Finally, there is also what is known as the third generation of rights this includes two important rights namely that of development and healthy environment. Every state has the right of development and also to own versions of social-economic policies for development. It also gives the people power to develop.⁴


1.8 literature review

In this contribution the impact of ethnicity and religion on democracy, Yusuf O.A (SAN) argued that a national discourse of ethnic and religion rights in Nigeria is very appropriate given the emerging tendencies of regional political group like Arewa consultative forum, Yoruba council of elders.

In another development most dictators by the U.N and America against violation of fundamental human rights are more intrusions into their affairs was vigorously condemned by the U.S.S.R as a warranted America intrusion into the internal affairs of other sovereign states. The suspension of the constituting  that provides for the right of the citizen and further replacement with decrees, have been described as the first characteristics  of military rule not only in Nigeria but else where. Emezi and Ndoh were quick to assert that soldiers usually suspend the constitution for the country and rule without a formal constitution. For example in the radio Kaduna broadcast, by the major Nzeogwu during the first military coup in Nigeria he said “in the name of the supreme council of the resolution of Nigeria, the constitution is suspended and the legal government and elected assembly are hereby dissolved. All political, cultural, tribal and trade union activities together with all demonstration and all unauthorized gathering are banned until further notice. This denied the citizen of their rights to assembly, expression and protest.⁵

Violation and denial of the fundamental human right had started long ago, writing on racism in the common wealth, I.A, Gambari noted that to vote and be voted for, was restricted to the white South African descendants. By some kind of constitutions, the African who were the over whelming majority of the population were deprived to vote.

Besides, Prince Kay .L. Kalu optioned that the interpretation of leadership rights as Godly rights and the total disregarded for the cultivation of harmony among the citizens have posed great danger to the overall peaceful co-existence of Nigeria. It could be recalled that a particular ethnic group in Nigeria felt that they have been divinely crowned to rule Nigeria. The sokoto caliphate goes with the slogan ‘born to rule’. This in no doubt violates the rights of political participation of other well meaning citizens of the country. Trans-national Corporation have emerged in the recent years as major actor in international relationship contributing to Nigeria politics, Prexede Egeonu viewed the activities of these organization as eroding the sovereignty and the economic of nation states particularly in Africa and other third world nations.6

As asserted by W.W Rostow in his stages of economic growth, social economic development of every nation and that of the world will be achieved. When the problem of peace consist in the installation of a system of arms control and inspection within a level of armaments agreements for their concealment, this in turn, requires that all societies open up to inspection which would have an effect on these privileges that will is, they go any were at anytime without notice, the fundamental human right to life to the people have been denied to those who have easy access to weapons and arms.6

The third world nations that gives the enormous natural and human resources at the disposal of least developed country. One can rightly say without any fear of contradiction that most LDCS have potential of becoming big and great nation. A reverse back, when the rights and privileges of man are respected and to improve on these endowments. These and many more of the constitution to be made in this study.6


1.9. Research methodology

We shall adopt the modern method in this study to that end, we shall consult relevant books written by great scholars, and again consultation of print media, newspaper, magazines that have relevance to this topic of study shall equally be made use of.





  1. Austin Ranny, Principal of Constitutional Development (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1976), 4.
  2. Osita Eje, African and the New World Order, Human Rights and Democracy, (Lecture Delivered At Imo state university on the 27th February, 1992), 2.
  3. C.E Emezi and C.A Ndoh, the Military and Politics in Nigeria (Owerri: Achugo Publication, 1999), 19.
  4. W.W Rostow, the Stages of Economic Growth, a Non Communist Manifesto, (London: Cambridge University Press, 1959), 128.
  5. Daniel Si Pappi, Contemporary International Relations (New York Macmillan, 1984), 122.
  6. I.A Gambari, Party Politics and Foreign Policy in Nigeria (Zaria: Ahmadu Bello University Press Limited, 1980), 85.



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