Fundamental Human Rights are our God-given rights as Adamic creations. These rights are to be acknowledged and duly respected by all men – be it the government, security/law enforcement agencies and people we socialize with in our day-to-day living.
Using Nigeria as a case study, the fundamental human rights of the majority of her citizens have been violated, trampled upon and desecrated at one point or the other. Youths face untold, unrecorded and undocumented adversities while going about their daily activities in the hands of law enforcement agencies and other uniform men. This begs the question WHY? due to the ignorance of not knowing the constitutional backing of their basic human rights; even if they are well aware of the rights, they simply cannot do anything or make any move due to fear and grandiose intimidation.
This article dwells basically on the rights of an accused person under the Nigerian constitution. Section 35 and 36 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives an accused person statutory rights ranging from:
- The right to have an interpreter free of charge if there is a language barrier in court.
- The right to defend him/herself in person or have a legal practitioner stand in place.
- The right to be given ample time to prepare for his/her defence.
- The right to be informed promptly in the language he/she understands on the nature and details of the offence allegedly committed.
- The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
- The right to remain silent during the trial.
- The right to not be charged twice for the same offence.
All these aforementioned statutory rights are put in place to give an accused person proper treatment under the law.
The general public needs to be properly sensitized and emancipated from the shackle of ignorance of their rights. As a Citizen of Nigeria, one should be aware and enlightened on their basic constitutional rights even before the arrival of a lawyer.
All government judicial parastatals and law enforcement agencies should be educated and informed on ways to practically and consciously integrate and enforce these human rights. Enforcing the practice of human rights should be enshrined and embedded in their code of conduct.
Treating every human as valuable and respected, will make Nigeria a better place and give the country good repute on international waters.
Tunmise Olubusi, a Communications Associate at Citizens' Gavel writes from Ibadan Oyo State. He can be reached at : firstname.lastname@example.org