‘Citizen vigilance can tame Nigeria’s right violations’
• Human Rights Fundamental To Everybody, Says Adaramoye
It is obligatory for persons to respect the rights of others and they cannot be taken away from anybody except by due process of law,’ Mr. Kayode Steve Adaramoye, who made this assertion while delivering a lecture at the Rotary Club, Ota, Ogun State, noted that being fundamental, ‘these rights are applicable everywhere and at any time….’
He contended that from Wikipedia’s definition, human rights mean moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected in municipal and international law, stressing that they are inalienable, fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being.
Adaramoye noted that human rights are regardless of age, ethnic origin, location, language, religion or any other status. He added: “These rights are applicable everywhere and at any time universal. It is obligatory for persons to respect human rights of others and they cannot be taken away from anybody except by due process of law.”
While insisting that human rights are well coded in the 1948 Universal Human Rights, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, as well as, the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Adaramoye explained that Chapter four of the Constitution, spells out these rights.
According to him, they could be found in Sections 33 through 44, including, Right to life; dignity of human person; personal liberty; fair hearing; private and family life; freedom of thought and conscience and religion and freedom of expression at the press.
Others, he stated, are right to peaceful assembly and association; freedom of movement; freedom from discrimination; right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria and not to compulsorily acquire a citizen’s property without due process.
The keynote speaker, however, stressed that ‘no right is absolute and this is the essential underpinning of Section 45, which is styled “Restriction and derogation from fundamental rights.”
On the position of human rights in Nigeria, Adaramoye echoed the view of international observers, saying that it is pitiably marked by serious violations, most especially by the governments at various echelons of the society.
He stated: “It is pretty sad to observe that Nigeria today is in the Hobbesian state, where life is short, brutish and nasty. Nigeria has become a jungle, where she has won the infamous title of ‘poverty capital of the world’ and consequently, accorded the title of a failed state. Nigeria’s political and economic system has become so weak that the government is no longer in control.
“Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, states unambiguously and stridently that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. Regrettably, this provision has been observed in breach than in obedience, due to poor leadership under our constitutional democracy. This poor leadership flows endlessly from pervasive obscene corruption and deep-seated stunning impunity.”
Adaramoye observed that since men are born and remain free and equal in rights, the bounden duty of any government is to preserve these natural and imprescriptible rights of citizens — liberty, security and resistance to oppression and destruction.” He regretted that the current leadership at various tiers in the country has stripped the citizens of their clothing, refused to give water to the weary and withhold bread from the hungry.
Painting a dour picture of Nigeria’s human rights record, Adaramoye declared: “The narrative of human rights protection in Nigeria is nothing, but a tale told by idiot signifying nothing! Leadership is mired in rudderlessness, visionlessness, unabashed authoritarianism, anarchical dictatorship, bizarre tyranny, albeit very regrettably, under a constitutional democracy. In this paradigm, inalienable rights of the citizens are dangerously endangered and gravely compromised.”
Lamenting that opposing voices of dissent are muzzled with vicious and cruel attack on the critics and protesters, the speaker added that many victims of this ugly regime of fascism and authoritarianism have lost their lives and freedom in utter violation of their right to life, right to dignity of human person, right to personal liberty, right to freedom of expression, right to peaceful assembly and association, right to freedom of movement as enshrined in various charters of Human Rights, including our extant 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
Adaramoye noted that it is in the orgy of fascist tyranny that arbitrary and unlawful killings are made. “A living bad example and ugly testimony is the suppression and repression of the peaceful #EndSARS protesters in 2020 and in which many were maimed and killed,” he added, saying that the consequential conflagration of this reactionary and unconstitutional attack by the government nearly consumed the country.
He also cited the instances of disobedience of court rulings, pointing out that where courts occasionally rise above their cocoon of timidity and give judgment against government, more often — such orders are flagrantly disobeyed.
“Agba Jalingo, a Nigerian journalist on trial for treason, was granted bail by a court after spending 174 days in detention in both police cell and Calabar Prison. Mr. Jalingo, the publisher of Cross River Watch, was arrested on August 22, 2019, over a report alleging that Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, diverted N500million belonging to the state. On two occasions, Justice Simon Amobeda denied Mr. Jalingo bail. While in prison, he was chained to a deep freezer for more than two weeks, while under several threats, which were violations of his rights to life, right to dignity of human persons, right to liberty, right to fair hearing, right to freedom of expression…”
Narrating a personal experience, Adaramoye said on March 24, 2004, he became a victim of trigger-happy Nigerian police officers as a candidate for the House of Representatives by-election in Ekiti Federal Constituency II.
He said: “I had information that they were rigging the election in favour of a candidate in a hamlet. I went there to challenge the electoral heist. On getting to the venue, I met Mobile Police officers thumb printing ballot papers and stuffing ballot boxes. I challenged them.
“My courage and audacity were met with lethal resistance as I was mercilessly beaten and put inside the boot of a car and driven to Police Headquarter at Ado-Ekiti. Thank God, I survived the traumatic ordeal and horrific encounter. All is history as they use to say, but a living-bitter history indeed!”
Way Out Of Human Rights Breaches
Moving away from lamenting the woes of human rights abuses and breaches, Mr. Adaramoye proffered some possible ways out of the quagmire, just as he observed that bringing rainbow into the poisoned sky entails tough choices. He said citizens must rise above the current lethargy and move into combative activism in defence of their rights whenever there is abridgement.
According to him, courage must be demonstrated by the civil society with adherence to the rule of law, because the situation in which protests snowball into anarchy and wanton destruction of lives and property is most unacceptable.”
Alluding to the need for vigilance and collective action, the speaker said: “Education of citizens’ rights from primary school to tertiary institutions must be pursued with vigour. It is only a person who knows his rights that can stand and fight for same.
“The judiciary must leave up to expectation in the dispensation of justice. It is trite that law cannot help us; it is we that can help law. In this regard the judicial officers must courageously live above board in ensuring that justice is not only done, but be manifestly seen to be done in any matter brought before them.
“The citizenry must leave apathy and cowardice as regards their electoral and political responsibilities. In this circumstance upright leaders who have the interest of the masses at heart to ensure the safeguard of their fundamental human rights in the course of their governance must be voted into power.”
Quoting a former U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, Adaramoye remarked: “It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he breaks, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and punishment of his guilt.”
He maintained that in any society good leadership is a function of good electoral system, which is key and fundamental to good governance, stressing that kleptocrats and brigands voted into power cannot rise above primordial interests of looting, personal aggrandizement and other allied criminal tendencies.
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