Human rights in Nigeria

Human rights in Nigeria are protected under the most current constitution of 1999[1] .Nigeria has made major improvements in human rights under this constitution though the American Human Rights Report of 2012 notes areas where significant improvement is needed, which include:[2] abuses by Boko Haram, killings by government forces, lack of social equality, and issues with freedom of speech. The Human Rights Watch's 2015 World Report states that intensified violence by Boko Haram, restrictions of LGBTIQQ rights, and government corruption continue to undermine the status of human rights in Nigeria.[3]

History since independenceEdit

In the period between its independence in 1960 and 1998, Nigeria had, in terms of heads of State, two elected, one appointed, one military successor and 7 [coups d'état] powers. In 1979, Nigeria adopted a presidential system in order to properly instate the right of choosing who rules them with a new constitution. This constitution guarantees fundamental human rights that are constantly in violation.

There was a crusade for human rights in 1985, when General Ibrahim Babangida took power.[4] There were changes under the Babangida administration both for the positive as well as for the negative.

Although Nigeria has been active in signing and ratifying international human rights treaties, it has seen challenges when trying to implement these treaties domestically. Nigeria operates under a dualist system and cannot apply international treaties unless they are ratified by the legislative houses in Nigeria. Furthermore, the Nigerian constitution protects civil and political rights, but international treaties like the African Charter also expand protection to cultural, socioeconomic, and group rights. Because the Nigerian constitution is supreme law, the Supreme Court of Nigeria often resolves conflicts in favor of the Constitution, therefore restricting the expansion of potential human rights.[5]

Freedom of expressionEdit

When General Babangida took power in 1985 and repealed Decree N0. 4 of 1984, a law that made it criminal behavior to publish any material that was considered embarrassing or against the interests of the government,[6] there was renewed hope for freedom of expression both by the people and the media. Within the Babangida regime, political tolerance occurred for some time. However, this brief foray into human rights broke down when the regime began jailing its critics and firing employees who did not promote their views and ideals. This regime closed down more newspapers and banned more popular organizations than any other in Nigeria's post-colonial history.[6]

The poparazi in Nigeria was often subject to scare tactics and intimidation. Journalists were subjected to "chats" with the State Security Service that involved threatening and possible imprisonment.[6] There were continually newspaper shutdowns. In 1990, The Republic, Newbreed, Lagos Daily News, The Punch, and various other newspapers were shut down at some point by the federal government.[7]

In 1999, freedom of expression became protected by the new Nigerian Constitution.[citation needed] However, defamation laws were afterwards passed.[citation needed]

Critics maintain that though measures of freedom of the press have improved, there is still room for improvement. Nigeria was described as "partly free" in the Freedom of the Press 2011 report published by the Freedom House (see yearly rankings in Freedom House ratings in Nigeria section).[8] cited the killing, detention and brutalisation of journalists alongside targeted attempts to shrink the civic space by the Nigerian Government as reason for the ranking

On April 26, 2020, the Reporter without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranked Nigeria 115 out of 180 countries surveys.[9] Reporters without Borders cited killing, detention and brutalisation of journalists alongside targeted attempts to shrink the civic space by the Nigerian Government as reason for the ranking.[9] However, this rank is higher than the 146 rank which Transparency International gave Nigeria earlier in the year with regards to corruption [10] The Reporters without Borders report further stated “With more than 100 independent newspapers, Africa’s most populous nation enjoys real media pluralism but covering stories involving politics, terrorism or financial embezzlement by the powerful is very problematic."[9]

On July 24, 2020, the United Nations official urged the Nigerian authorities to immediately release a prominent human rights defender Mubarak Bala, who has been detained for more than two months without charges, on accusations of blasphemy.[11]

Late September 2020, the United Nations human rights experts urged Nigerian authorities to release singer Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, who was convicted and sentenced to death over an allegedly blasphemous song. U.N. Human Rights Special Procedures group claimed that a group of people burned down the singer’s home on March 4.[12]

Government violationsEdit

Nigerian security forces are frequently alleged to carry out arbitrary arrests, torture,[13] forced disappearances, assassinations and extrajudicial summary executions. These abuses typically occur within the context of the Nigerian government's security operations or are directed against political and religious organizations and individuals. Several instances of mass killings of political opponents and agitators by security forces have been reported.

ArmyEdit

On 12–14 December 2015, the Nigerian Army carried out a massacre of 347 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in Zaria, Kaduna State and buried the bodies in mass graves. In March 2020, it was revealed that some Nigeria army soldiers took advantage of food shortages at refugee camps in Borno state and raped women at female-designated "satellite camps" in exchange for granting them food.[14] These refugee camp food shortages also resulted in the death of "thousands" of people since 2015.[14] On April 4, 2020, three Army soldiers were arrested in Lagos state for issuing threats to rape women.[15] On 21 May 2020, two Lagos state Army deserters, Kehinde Elijah and Ezeh Joseph, were arrested for their involvement in the murder of a police sergeant on 10 May 2020.[16] The shooters, who were afterwards taken into military custody, were also assisted by a Nigerian police officer and were wanted for "violent crimes."[16]

Police forceEdit

In Nigeria, the Nigeria Police Force has been typically viewed as inefficient and corrupt. The Joint Task Force (JTF) has provided inadequate and violent response to the Boko Haram attacks. The JTF has been involved in killing suspects without fair trial as well as killing random members of communities suspected of supporting the Boko Haram.[17] This "heavy-handed" approach violates human rights with its lack of access to a fair trial and use of discriminatory techniques to determine perpetrators of violence.[17]

Within the regular Nigerian Police Force, there are high amounts of corruption and violations that include extortion and embezzlement. The police force takes advantage of the people by putting up roadblocks that require a fee to pass and taking money for no legal reason. Within the police force, there is no equal protection under the law.[18] The wealthy are able to buy the police for security as well as expecting the police to turn a blind eye to illegal activities they participate in.

On 2 August 2019, two officers of the Nigerian Police Force's Anti-Cultism Squad, Insp. Ogunyemi Olalekan and Sgt. Godwin Orji, were arrested and charged with murdering a man during a raid in Lagos.[19] On 21 August 2019, four SARS operatives were arrested and charged with murder after being caught on film manhandling and then shooting to death two suspected phone thieves in broad daylight.[20] The two suspected phone thieves were shot dead after they had been arrested.[20]

On January 5, 2020, three Nigerian Police Force officers were arrested after beating a bus passenger, named Justice Obasi, after he refused to unlock his mobile phone.[21] On April 3, 2020, a Nigerian police officer was arrested for assaulting a port worker.[22] On April 18, 2020, the Nigerian Police Force stated that two of its officers were arrested after being caught on film beating a woman at the Odo Ori Market in Iwo, Osun.[23]

On April 28, 2020, Nigerian Police Force's Rivers State Police Command arraigned former Sergeant Bitrus Osaiah in court for shooting to death his female colleague, Lavender Elekwachi, during a raid on street trading and illegal motor parks the previous week.[24] Osaiah was dismissed as a police officer the previous day for killing Elekwachi, who also held the rank of a Sergeant.[25] It was reported that Osaiah was in fact arrested for the killing.[26] On May 21, 2020, Yahaha Adeshina, the Divisional Police Officer of Ilemba Hausa Division, was arresting for assisting Kehinde Elijah and Ezeh Joseph in the May 10, 2020 murder of sergeant Onalaja Onajide.[16] All three shooters were wanted for "violent crimes."[16] On May 30, 2020, two Lagos police officers were arrested for shooting to death a 16-year old girl.[27][28]

In February 2019, it was reported that Nigerian police officers commonly gained extra money by extorting local residents.[29] On July 30, 2019, three Nigeria Police Force Officers from Anambra State were arrested on charges of extorting three residents.[30] On November 10, 2019, the Nigerian Police Force issued a statement revealing that Safer Highways Patrol officer Onuh Makedomu was arrested after being filmed accepting a bribe from a motorist in Lagos.[31] On March 9, 2020, two Nigeria Police Force officers from Lagos, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Adebayo Ojo and Sergeant Adeleke Mojisola were both arrested on charges of extorting a woman.[32] On April 11, 2020 another Nigeria Police Force officer from Lagos, Inspector Taloju Martins, was arrested after being caught on camera exhorting a motorist.[33][34] On June 3, 2020, the Adamawa State police command announced that one of its officers was arrested for murdering a motorcycle motorist who refused to pay him a bribe.[35]

On July 31, Peter Ebah, an inspector officer for the Nigeria Police Forces's Rivers Command, was arrested for raping a woman at a checkpoint in the Tai area of Rivers State for not wearing a face mask.[36] As of September 9, 2020, he was still in custody for the rape.[37] A case involving accusations that Nigeria Police Force officers in Abuja raped some of 65 women who were arrested for illicit nightclub activity in April 2019 after they refused to pay the officers bribes for their release was still ongoing as well.[37]

On 21 October 2020, UN Secretary General António Guterres issued a statement criticizing Nigerian authorities, as many protesters were shot dead and wounded during a violent escalation in Lagos.[38] Amnesty International reported that at least 12 people were shot dead but, the government confirmed only two deaths in October. In November, the government admitted that there were live rounds in Lekki by the police. In December 2020, the government confirmed that 51 civilians, 11 police officers, and seven soldiers lost their lives in the ongoing conflict between protesters and police. Protesters are demanding police reforms, and Lekki Toll Gate has become a rallying cry for Nigerians.[39]

SARS controversies and dismantlementEdit

On October 22, 2020, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed in a publicly-aired address that Nigeria's controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) had been dismantled and also accused some members of SARS of committing "acts of excessive force" when the unit was operational.[40] Plans were then put in place to also prosecute some former SARS members for extortion, rape, and murder.[41] Numerous Nigerians had long accused the controversial police unit of committing acts of extortion, rape, torture and murder.[42]

CorruptionEdit

Nigeria has the label of having one of the world's highest levels of corruption. This is especially seen within the public sector including stealing public funds and accepting bribes.[43] It is estimated that between 1999 and 2007, Nigeria has lost around $4–8 billion yearly due to corruption.[44]

Politicians often siphon public funds to further their political careers and also pay gangs to aid them in rigging elections. The elections since the end of military rule occurring in 1999, 2003, and 2007 were bloody affairs and were openly rigged.[44] In 2007, ballot boxes were visibly stuffed by paid gangs and in some cases, electoral results were simply made up.[45] Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 300 were killed due to the 2007 elections and that is considered to be a conservative estimate as cited from a Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Derrick Marco, Nigeria country director in March 2007. These measures of violence and intimidation discouraged the general public from voting. Those who did come out were subject to attacks by gangs.[44]

The current Fourth Republic of Nigeria has strengthened its laws against corruption and established the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the early 2000s. However, due to the previous institutionalization of corruption, the battle against corruption is ongoing. These anti-corruption institutions have been attempting to combat the issue but, as of 2010, they have not been very heavy handed in terms of punishment.[18] Former Edo State governor Lucky Igbinedion pleaded guilty to embezzling 2.9 billion Naira (about $24.2 million). However, he had a plea bargain with the EFCC and was fined 3.5 million Naira ($29,167) and did not serve any jail time.[46] As of January 2015, many high-level politicians remain un-investigated and only lower-level officials are arrested.[3] In 2015, newly elected Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari began a major crackdown on corruption in Nigeria. Despite criticism, the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced in May 2018 that 603 Nigerian figures had been convicted on corruption charges since Buhari took office in 2015.[47] The EFCC also announced that for the first time in Nigeria's history, judges and top military officers including retired service chiefs are being prosecuted for corruption.[47] In January 2020, however, Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) still gave Nigeria a low ranking spot of 146 out of 180 countries surveyed.[10][48] By October 2020, however, even End SARS protestors alleged that Nigerian police officers, despite being known for having a long history of corruption,[49][50][51] were by now not adequately paid and, despite protesting police brutality, called for an increase in police salaries so they could be "adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens" as one of their five demands.[52]

Forced evictionsEdit

Forced evictions are an integral aspect of human rights violation. They comprise the forceful removal of persons without their assent and against their will on a temporary or permanent basis from their homeland, normal place of abode without clear preparations for adequate compensation and relocation.[53] This increases the problems of displacemnt of individuals and homelessness in countries.[54] Governments at different levels continue to forcefully evict people without adequate compensation in some African countries including Nigeria.[55] The Nigerian government forcefully evicted over 2 million people between 2000 -2009.[56] In Lagos State alone, between 2003-2015, communities in Makoko Yaba, Ijora East, Ijora Badiya, PURA-NPA Bar Beach, Ikota Housing Estate, Ogudu Ori-Oke, Mosafejo in Oshodi, Agric-Owutu, Ageologo-Mile 12, and Mile 2 Okokomaiko have been forcefully evicted under the guise of development.[citation needed][57]

In Lagos State, Nigeria, the forced evictions are done with the major purpose of reclaiming the land and building luxury apartments as the population of the country continue to soar creating housing deficits.[58][59][60] However, this breeds discrimination and inequality as the new buildings do not fulfill any housing need for the general populace.[61] In July 2016, the Lagos State Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development after a notice of 72hrs forcefully evicted residents of Makoko, a waterfront community made up of six villages - Oko Agbon, Adogbo, Migbewhe, Yanshiwhe, Sogunro and Apollo without a court order.[62] This rendered an estimated 30,000 people homeless.[63][64][65] Makoko is one of the nine communities targeted in the $200 Million World Bank-funded Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project (LMDGP) of the Lagos State government for urbanization, waste management, drainage and water supply.[66][67] The community which has been in existent for more than 100yrs is said to have started as a settlement of fishermen from Togo and the Republic of Benin.[68]

At least 266 structures in Badia East community, Lagos State which were being used as homes and businesses were pulled down in February 2013, by the State government. The Resettlement Action Plan which was agreed to in April 2013 did not have clear-cut remedies for adequate resettlement of the displaced persons.[69] Badia is one of the communities slated for urbanization through upgrading from being a slum in the $200 million World Bank-funded Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project (LMDGP). The project specifies minimal involuntary resettlement and where absolutely necessary such must have been discussed and agreed on with the residents including adequate notice, compensation and well spelt-out resettlement plans.[70]

Between 2016 and 2017, Otodo-Gbame an ancestral fishing community and Ilubrin community were forcefully sacked from their homes with fatalities after 12 days of written eviction notice.[71][72] On March 17 2017, despite a January 2017 court injunction, Itedo, a waterfront community of more than 35,000 persons was forcefully evicted early in the morning while some were still asleep.[73] On January 20, 2020 residents of Tarkwa Bay, a waterfront community was forcefully evicted by security personnel in what has been termed a gross violation of human rights.[74][75] Oil theft through the pipelines along the beach is the reason given by government authorities for the forced evictions.[76]

Boko HaramEdit

Boko Haram is an Islamist terrorist group that focuses its attacks on government officials, Christians, and fellow Muslims who speak out against their actions or are thought to aid the government, known as "traitor Muslims". Attacks are primarily focused in northeast Nigeria.[17] They cite corruption committed by the national government as well as increased Western influence as the primary reason for their often violent actions. This group engaging in jihad was banded in 2000 by the spiritual leader Mohammed Yusuf.

In July 2009, there were five days of extreme violence from Boko Haram as well as with the governmental response. From 26 to 31 July, the group killed 37 Christian men and burned 29 churches. After a brief hiatus in claimed incidents, the group resurfaced in the summer of 2011 with church attacks.

In October 2013, Amnesty International recommended that the Nigerian government investigate the deaths of more than 950 suspected Boko Haram members that died under military custody in the first six months of the year.[77]

In 2014, Boko Haram drew international attention from its 14 April kidnapping of approximately 230 female students from a secondary school in the northern town of Chibok, Nigeria. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claims the girls have converted to Islam and has threatened to sell them as wives or slaves to Boko Haram members at a price of $12.50 each.[78] Boko Haram has also attacked schools in Yobe State and forced hundreds of young men to join their forces, killing those who refused. Persistent violence in northeast Nigeria in 2014 has caused the deaths of over 2,500 civilians and the displacement of more than 700,000.[3]

From 3 to 7 January 2015, Boko Haram militants seized and razed the towns of Baga and Doron-Baga and reportedly killed at least 150 people in the Baga Massacre.[79]

Boko Haram kills civilians, abducts women and girls, forcefully conscripted boys and men, and even destroyed homes and schools.[80]

According to a UNICEF report, Boko Haram abducted more than 1,000 children between 2013 and 2018, including the 276 Chibok schoolgirls.[81] More than 100 Chibok girls are yet to return home even after five years of the incidence.[82]

On 2 December 2020, Boko Haram jihadists admitted that they were behind the brutal massacre in northeast Nigeria. They slaughtered 76 farmers in Borno State. Attacks were carried out in revenge as the farmers were helping the Nigerian Army. They supported the army in the arrest of one of its brothers, Abubakar Shekau, said in a video.[83]

Social rights and equalityEdit

LGBT rightsEdit

In May 2013, Nigeria's House of Representatives voted to pass the Same-Sex Marriage Bill, which prohibits gay marriage and public displays of affection between same-sex couples and allots fourteen years in prison to those engaged in same-sex relationships. This bill also allows punishment for those knowingly associating with those identifying as members of the LGBT community or aiding these individuals in becoming married or pursuing that lifestyle. The punishment for abetting gay marriage is 5 years imprisonment. Furthermore, the bill criminalizes any association with gay identity and the promotion of lesbian and gay rights, such as gathering privately with gay people.[84] The Same-Sex Marriage Bill was ratified by President Goodluck Jonathan in January 2014 and has received much condemnation from the West for its restriction of the freedoms of expression and assembly for the LGBT community in Nigeria.[3]

Peter Tatchell has stated that the Same-Sex Marriage Bill is "the most comprehensively homophobic legislation ever proposed in any country in the world."[84] Shawn Gaylord, Advocacy Counsel of Human Rights First, has said that the Same-Sex Marriage Bill "sets a dangerous precedence for persecution and violence against minorities" not only in Nigeria, but throughout Africa as a whole.[85]

WomenEdit

Women in Nigeria face various versions of human rights violations despite the provisions granted unto them in the 1999 Constitution.[86] Regardless of the opportunity provided to take up unconstitutionality to higher courts in Nigeria, women do not often utilize this option and as such, there continues to be many violations occurring.

Women who are involved in the informal economy can often enjoy some degree of autonomy, but men are often in control of land and credit, from a societal perspective. Depending on their connections with important men, educated women may enjoy a higher social status. Education has provided many women with access to wage labor, which is usually outside of the direct control of men, but women are often still restrained by social expectations and boundaries. Even when they have employment opportunities, tradition in Nigerian society dictates that a career be secondary to a woman's primary role in the family as a mother or housewife.[87]

Nigerian women face particular problems and injustices once they become widows. The women are subject to cultural pressures that are inconsistent with human rights. In the widowhood practice, culture demands that when a man of significance within the community dies, his widow must act in a certain way as documented by Akpo Offiong Bassey in her studies of the Cross River State.[88] In some Nigerian tribal cultures, the woman must initially go into seclusion. They are also forced to neglect their bodies; they are not allowed to shave, shower, or change their clothing. They have to rub cow dung and palm oil on their bodies and must also sleep on the floor. Widows are also expected to wear black, the color of mourning, for two years to properly show their loss and respect for their late husband.[89] These practices widely vary in severity and methods, based on the individual cultural backdrop. However, there has been a major decline of such practices in recent years.

Apart from mourning, the widow has immediate concerns involving living situations and property to deal with. In most cases, the eldest son and not the widow inherits the entire property.[89] Women are culturally viewed as property and can be inherited like the rest of a husband's estate. Whether or not the widow can continue to reside on the property is dependent on her relationship with her eldest son or, if there are no sons, the eldest male relative of her husband. There have also been instances where the woman must return to her premarital home after refunding the bride price.[88] The lack of sufficient property right makes these women dependent on men while single, married, or widowed.

Though the Nigerian Supreme Court has yet to formally deal with this issue, in the 2007 Nnanyelugo v. Nnanyelugo case, two brothers attempted to get the land of their deceased brother under the case that a widow has no business with the property. The ruling stated that they would no longer allow the males to take advantage of the vulnerable position of the widows and young children.[89] There are other cases in which courts have ruled to implement the equality guaranteed underneath the constitution.

Because of the patrilineal nature of Nigerian cultures, it is often seen as justifiable to have another wife to ensure that there will be a male heir to carry the lineage of the family. In custody decisions, women's opinions are often ignored, and decisions are usually made in men's favor.[87]

Child labor and child marriageEdit

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 31% of Nigerian children (around 14,000,000 children) aged 5 to 14 years old are working children who engage in forced labor in various sectors.[90] According to the Department's List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor, instances of child labor have been observed in the agricultural sector where children participate in the production of cocoa, cassava, and sand, and in the mining industry where they mine, quarry, and crush gravel and granite.

Nigeria is characterized by many small farms that largely depend on family labor in the operations of the farm. In Nigeria, most child labor is found in the informal agricultural sector. Instead of attending school, more than 50% of children living in the rural areas of Nigeria spend more than 20 hours a week working, which is considered the point at which a child's education becomes significantly affected.[91]

Early marriage is prevalent in Nigeria, especially amongst Muslims in the north, due to the belief that early marriage prevents promiscuity. However, the major cause of early marriage has been attributed to poverty by Tim Braimah.[92]

Many girls are married off by the time they are 15, and some girls are married as early as age 9. Girls are extremely susceptible to disease and domestic violence and are restricted access to education due to the early age at which they give birth and begin caring for their children.[citation needed]

One popular source of legislation that was first brought forward in 1991 and became national law in 2003 is the Child Rights Act. This Act provides that in all matters involving a child, which may come before a court for adjudication; the best interest of the child is the paramount consideration. Among other factors to protect children from abuses and discrimination, Section 21 and 23 of the act made it illegal to marry off a child below the age of 18. If a husband consummates a marriage with a child, it is considered rape.[93]

The Child Rights Act competes with sharia law in some states as well as with customs and cultural expectations in different regions. The Child Rights Act has not been enacted in 13 of Nigeria's 36 states where other cultural and religious factors are largely influencing the laws that are enacted.[94] Even in states with laws prohibiting child marriage, these laws have been ineffective since there remain many cases of child marriage.[citation needed] By the provisions of the Child Rights Act, any decision to be made in any proceeding before a court which involves a child; the best interest of the child is the paramount consideration.

Ethnic minoritiesEdit

Minority ethnic groups have been fighting for equal rights since Nigeria's independence in 1960.[95] Many of the tensions between ethnic groups arise from Nigeria's federal system,[96] and many minorities view the governmental structure as skewed in favor of the three major ethnic groups, the Hausa-Fulani in the North, the Yoruba in the West, and the Igbo in the east. They believe that the federation is not inclusive of minorities, which leads to marginalized ethnic groups.[95]

Since Nigeria's independence, minorities have joined together to demand the formation of new states, increasing the number of states from 12 in 1967 to the current number of 36, in the attempts to reduce the regional power of dominant ethnic groups. However, this only led to the further marginalization of smaller ethnic minorities by more powerful ethnic minorities within the state. Also, the limited presence of power-sharing mechanisms means that the national leadership of Nigeria has remained in the power of the majority ethnic groups.[95]

Religious minoritiesEdit

According to its constitution, Nigeria is a secular country.[97] The Constitution forbids the establishment of a state religion and guarantees the right to freedom of religion. Nigeria has a population roughly split in half, between Christians predominantly in the South and Muslims in the North, and with a minority population of traditional religion worshippers.[98][97] Despite the clear provisions in the Constitution,[99] Nigerian public holidays honor Christian and Muslim feast days, but not holidays of any other religion. The government subsidizes only Christian and Muslim pilgrimages and allows Christian and Muslim religious education in schools.[99]

Since January 2000, several Northern states have institutionalized a version of Sharia law. This enactment of Sharia law has caused controversy over its violation of fundamental rights, such as the right for minorities in those states to practice their religion, the right to life, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.[97]

Historically, the Nigerian Constitution has allowed Sharia courts jurisdiction over certain cases, but their jurisdiction is limited to matters of Islamic personal or family law. Several state governments in the North have extended Sharia law to criminal offenses, thereby violating the Constitution's prohibition of an official religion. These states have relied on a constitutional provision that allows the Sharia Court to exercise other jurisdiction given to it by the state in introducing Sharia penal codes. The imposition of Sharia law in certain states in Nigeria infringes on the rights of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Muslims who would prefer to be judged under the Constitution are not able to do so, and non-Muslims are denied the right to practice their religions freely.[97]

The severe penalties given to lesser offenses under Sharia penal laws have raised concern about their violation of rights that are protected by international human rights treaties. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which Nigeria is a party, allows the death penalty if it is carried out in a way that causes the least suffering and only in the cases of serious crimes that intentionally cause lethal consequences. Under Sharia law, adultery is punished by death by stoning, which violates both conditions set forth by the ICCPR.[97]

In southern Nigeria, especially in areas with Christian majorities, many rights are denied to Muslims as well as other religious minorities. Some educational institutions have banned the use of the hijab, which violates the right of Muslim women to practice their religion. Some state governments in the South have also denied many requests for land grants to build mosques or Islamic schools.[99]

Throughout Nigeria, religious minorities are systematically restricted from building places of worship and schools through the denial of land grants. Members of minority religious groups are often attacked during riots and religious conflicts.[99]

International perspectiveEdit

According to the U.S. Department of State,

The most serious human rights problems during ... [2011] were the abuses committed by the militant sect known as Boko Haram, which was responsible for killings, bombings, and other attacks throughout the country, resulting in numerous deaths, injuries, and the widespread destruction of property; abuses committed by the security services with impunity, including killings, beatings, arbitrary detention, and destruction of property; and societal violence, including ethnic, regional, and religious violence. Other serious human rights problems included sporadic abridgement of citizens' right to change their government, due to some election fraud and other irregularities; politically motivated and extrajudicial killings by security forces, including summary executions; security force torture, rape, and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of prisoners, detainees, and criminal suspects; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; prolonged pretrial detention; denial of fair public trial; executive influence on the judiciary and judicial corruption; infringements on citizens' privacy rights; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, and movement; official corruption; violence and discrimination against women; child abuse; female genital mutilation ...; the killing of children suspected of witchcraft; child sexual exploitation; ethnic, regional, and religious discrimination; trafficking in persons for the purpose of prostitution and forced labor; discrimination against persons with disabilities; discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; vigilante killings; forced and bonded labor; and child labor.[100]

Twelve northern states have adopted some form of Shari'a into their criminal statutes: Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. The Shari'a criminal laws apply to those who voluntarily consent to the jurisdiction of the Shari'a courts and to all Muslims.[101] It provides harsh sentences for, among other crimes, alcohol consumption, infidelity, same-sex sexual activity, and theft, including amputation, lashing, stoning, and long prison terms.

Some Christian pastors in Nigeria were reported in 2009 of being involved in the torturing and killing of children accused of witchcraft.[102] In the decade ending in 2009, over 1,000 children were murdered as "witches".[102] Those pastors, in an effort to distinguish themselves from the competition, were accused of decrying witchcraft in an effort to establish their "credientials".[102]

Human rights organizations and bodiesEdit

Constitutional Rights Project - founded in 1990 to promote rule of law in Nigeria.

Nigerian Center for Human Rights and Development - founded in 1995 to promote democracy and enforcement of rights.

Human Rights Monitor - founded in 1992 to promote human rights.

Institute for Dispute Resolution - founded in 1999 to promote peaceful conflict resolution.

Human Rights Law Services (Hurilaws) - established in 2007.

Youths For Human Rights Protection And Transparency Initiative

Street Priests Inc. – founded in 2014.

Freedom House ratingsEdit

The following chart shows Nigeria's ratings since 1972 in the Freedom in the World reports, published annually by Freedom House. A rating of 1 is "most free" and 7 is "least free".[103]

International treatiesEdit

Nigeria's stances on international human rights treaties are as follows:

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Amnesty International Nigeria (2019). "Nigeria : Human Rights Agenda". Amnesty International Nigeria – via Amnesty.
  2. ^ Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Human Rights Practices for 2012. 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "World Report 2015: Nigeria". Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch. 12 January 2015. Archived from the original on 18 December 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  4. ^ McCarthy-Arnolds,Eileen. "Africa, Human Rights, and the Global System: The Political Economy of Human Rights in a Changing World". 30 December 1993
  5. ^ Egede, Edwin (2007). "Bringing Human Rights Home: An Examination of the Domestication of Human Rights Treaties in Nigeria" (PDF). Journal of African Law. 51 (2): 249–284. doi:10.1017/S0021855307000290. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 July 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  6. ^ a b c MCathy-Arnolds, Penna, and Sobrepena (1994). "Africa, Human Rights, and the Global System".
  7. ^ Africa Watch. "Academic Freedom".
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  12. ^ "UN Human Rights Experts Demand Release of Nigerian Muslim Singer Facing Execution". Voice of America. Archived from the original on 29 September 2020. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  13. ^ Africa Eye: Torture ‘rampant’ among Nigeria’s security forces Archived 10 February 2020 at the Wayback Machine, BBC news, 10 February 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Nigeria: Starving women raped by soldiers and militia who claim to be rescuing them". www.amnesty.org. Archived from the original on 27 July 2020. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
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