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Human Rights: Nigerians say, it is still miles away from compliance

I think there’s great improvement on the handling of human rights in the country now,  because people have become more aware and are now resisting…

I think there’s great improvement on the handling of human rights in the country now,  because people have become more aware and are now resisting its abuse. The law is actually helping. Now, rape is now being looked into seriously. Government and non-governmental organizations are helping out on child marriage. It is now taken more seriously.  Also there are new policies which give individuals freedom to express their feelings, thoughts and grievances. People now come out openly to fight for their rights without much resistance. Unlike in the past, child labor is also on the front burner.
 I think democracy has played a major role in protecting the rights of Nigerians to some extent. A lot still need to be done and of course, there is enough room for improvement, so I expect us to do better. The government needs to enact more laws to protect the rights of the people, children and widows especially and it should be strictly enforced to enable people live better lives. People should be enlightened   daily about what their rights are, so that others do not trample on them freely. Majority of the problems of human rights today are caused by lack of awareness and protection of rights. The law should also shorten its prosecution procedures. It takes so long for the courts to decide very serious human rights abuse cases. This will help in encouraging people and letting them know they can always go and also count on the law to protect them.

Ali Grema, an undergraduate
The laws are not strong enough to protect the ordinary Nigerian and implementation is also very poor. Besides, high poverty rate is making most Nigerians to struggle merely to survive. They do not feel they are part of the government, talk more of human rights. The foundation for human rights is the right to live, which every government should ensure basic shelter and food for its citizens. In the absence of this foundation, all effort to create and implement human rights laws will be in vain.
 Basically, human rights in the country apply to only a certain segment of people in  the society. Human rights should encompass everyone in the society especially, ordinary Nigerians.

Olanrewaju Hamza, businessman
It’s preposterous for anyone to portend that human rights are protected in Nigeria, though we do claim to practice democracy. The worst offenders are the enforcers of the law. Nigerian police officers are the worst human rights abusers in the land. That is not to say, we leave out the armed forces or politicians in high offices who have sworn to protect and serve us. It is practically impossible to open the dailies in Nigeria and not be inundated with stories of extra judicial killings by the police, illegal arrests and constant harassments of the average man on the streets by the big guys in the society. Human rights organizations have sprung up to defend the rights of the average citizen, but what you usually find in these cases are basic offences of child abuse etc.
 It is rare that the police answer for the crimes they commit. Kudos to those who have begun the war, but we all need to come together, form stronger bonds and be more defiant in the face of police abuse and brutality. Take for example the killings of innocent citizens during the subsidy protests nationwide. What has been done so far for families of the victims? Absolutely nothing, no one cares, because they were not affected. So, tell me where is the human rights in this situation? Human rights in this country are only practised when it involves a big man in the society, thereby neglecting the common man who needs the rights more. When the police understand that Nigerians have rights and there are laws that protect us, it would go a long way in fostering the rights we all have been constitutionally granted.

Omawunmmi Mariam Abimbola, business woman
Human rights! The government is not doing enough because they are not bothered about the citizens but their own pockets and safety. Those at the helm of affairs are less concerned about protecting and respecting the citizens who elected them into office. An average Nigerian cannot say that he or she enjoys human rights, because the rich in this country always do what they want and get away with it unlike the poor. In this country, you must know someone influential or have a godfather for you to be fairly protected. If this happens, where are the human rights we are talking about?  Even when you go to the relevant authorities in charge of human rights, if you do not have the means to “settle” them, your case is as good as abandoned. Focus and importance have to be given to human rights in the country if things must work.

Charles Abutu, Maritime worker
To an extent I think human rights have greatly improved,  but then a lot needs to be done on documentation and records and even full implementation. Taking a look at where we are coming from, I would say human rights has greatly improved, at least now we can voice out if we feel our rights have been trampled upon. It’s not perfect, but it is gradually improving.

Emmanuel Ande Ivorgba, Gender activist
I believe some positive efforts are being made, but a lot still needs to be done on gender issues, women’s rights, the right to education which is a fundamental human right, political rights, etc. The problem, I believe is not just about the relevant authorities but more about the citizens’ ignorance of what their rights genuinely are. Many citizens do not even know they have fundamental human rights. There is need for the media to aggressively educate and enlighten people on their rights in the society, that way human rights can play a major role in shaping the society in a positive way.

Dare Atoye,  Head, Strategy and Coordination,  Adopt- A- Goal for Development Initiative
I think we have made some progress in human rights indices. Democracy has helped to create an open society, allowing for more opportunity to expose abuse of people’s rights. More groups and institutions championing citizen’s rights have been established, while the media has played enormous roles in revealing strong cases of human rights abuses leading to powerful interventions in some cases.
However, we still have some unfortunate challenges. There is still insufficient efforts on the part of government, lawmakers and civil society actors to improve on the gains made through the advent of democracy, which automatically debuts with human rights. Many Nigerians are still trapped in the carryover of military mentality with the fear of pressing for their rights. They still think they can’t get justice from abuses suffered, mostly privately or secretly if they press for it. While some, armed with information and knowledge who attempted to fight the violation of their rights have been frustrated through our very slow justice system. But when compared to other nations, we have not fared badly. The rate of exposure of rights violation is on the rise through the media especially the social media. What we need to do, is to improve on getting justice for victims. But most importantly, we should work to prevent or drastically reduce human rights violations.

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