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HUMAN RIGHTS AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN NIGERIA


Project topic for Law department

1.1 Background to the Study                                     

There has been concern for human rights since antiquity through the various stages of socio-economic formations up to the modern era. In the study of human rights, one encounters relevant legal acts, constitutions, statutes and international instruments, various terms and notions other than human rights. These include fundamental rights fundamental freedoms, civil liberties and civil rights, individual and collective human rights as well as people’s rights. It is also relevant to mention that the activities of man’s right from birth to his death are directed by an incessant desire and search for justice and ceaseless efforts to avoid injustice. [1]

The issue of human rights and concerns for national security has become a contentious one.  This is not unconnected with the fact that human right claims at times directly or indirectly affect the national security of the area where the agitation is made. The two dominant players in the arena being the state and individual (citizens) often times overlook the necessity of striking a balance between protection and enforcement of human rights and the maintenance or promotion of National Security. This failure to strike a balance at times leads to suppression of human rights to the detriment of the citizens in one hand, and inordinate claims of rights which could become a threat to National security on the other hand.

From time immemorial, the state has been placed with the task of promoting the inalienable rights of its citizens and as protecting and safe guarding National security. From the state of nature, when might was right to the emergence of a civilized society and submission of absolute power to the state, man has been the cause of human rights abuses. A good instance could be seen in aspect of domination and assertion of liberation from dominance as evidenced in outbreak of civil wars [2].

Government’s constitutional responsibility for guaranteeing the security and welfare of it’s people necessarily entails discharging certain obligations under municipal law and international law. Domestically, this obligation calls for the making of laws, rules and regulations aimed at ensuring peace, order, safely of lives and property as well as good governance of the country. Internationally, government is obligated to observe international law which protects the lives of citizens and promotes their welfare [3].

A comprehensive conceptualization of the notion of national security distinguishes between two contending viewpoints. One is the conventional security doctrine which perceives national security as being associated with the protection and defence of the irreducible minimum of a states vital interests or core values such as the preservation of political independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state interests or values which can only be maintained by military prowess. That is why in classical terms, military might is considered the principal instrument for guaranteeing national security. It is pertinent to indicate that Section 217 [4] (2) deals with the “Armed Forces” of the Federation, composed of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force while the “Security Forces” or the “Security Machinery” in Nigeria other than the Armed Forces include the office of the National Security Adviser; and the Prison Service. As is well known in performing their constitutional functions, the security agencies may incorporate or coordinate the activities of other bodies such as the Fire Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigeria Police, the State Security Service (SSS), the National Intelligence Agency, (NIA), Defence Intelligence Agency (DID), the Custom Service (CS) etc.

Consequently, it should be noted that the work also discusses in details how National Security overrides individual rights in protection of human right as was buttressed in the case of Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo Asari v. State. [5] Where the learned counsel for the respondent contended that “where national security is threatened or there is the real likelihood of it being threatened, human rights or individual rights of those responsible takes second place. Human rights or individual rights must be suspended until the national security can be protected or well taken care of”.

At the end of this work, the researcher would be able to say with certainly whether National Security should override the individual’s human rights and also how it affects most rights known as the fundamental rights of a Nigerian citizen as enshrined in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution [6].

Statement of the Problem

In the conceptualization of human rights and national security, it is demonstrated, though amidst skepticism and criticism that human rights and national security are inherent in the nature of human beings and by extension, they are integral qualities of the human society. Hence, the universality and inalienability of human rights and national security are asserted, but amidst strong objections. However, it appears that the western perspectives on human rights and national security have dominated the global discourse in this regard, hence neglecting other notions available in the thought system of other societies especially in Africa. The problematic questions are:

Do humans really have rights? Are human beings secured?

What do we mean when we use the words security and rights?

What are the justifications for the application, attribution, claim of security and rights?

Are there universally acceptable justification for human rights and security? Or are they societal or cultural specific ones only?

What is the concept of human rights and national security in Nigerian society? What is the basis of national security in Nigeria traditional society?

What is the influence of the modern and pluralistic society on the Nigerian concept of human rights and national security today?

The critical attempt to address these above raised questions constitutes the thematic preoccupation of this research work.

  • Aims and Objectives of the Study

This research work aims to critically examine the concepts of human rights and national security with a view to establish the relationship/conflict between the two in the Nigerian context.  It objectives  are to:

Look at the meaning, historical evolution and dimensions of the concepts of human rights and national security.

Ascertain the existence and non-existence as well as the basis and dimensions of human rights and national security in Nigeria.

Juxtapose the concepts of national security and human rights in Nigeria to determine the relationship/conflict between these two concept. 

Recommend ways to marry the two seemingly concepts in order to enhance the protection of Nigerian citizens. 

1.4 Research Methodology

This study adopts the doctrinal approach and both primary and secondary data are employed to prosecute the study. The primary sources of  data for the study are Nigerian and foreign statutes and case law while the secondary sources of data include views of persons knowledgeable in the relevant areas as expressed in books, journal articles, print and electronic media including the Internet. materials etc. The study will also make use of articles and journals that are related to this research.

1.5       Significance of the Study

Statistic revealed that victims of human right violation do not only suffer from direct impact of violate but also suffer mistreatment and neglect within the criminal justice system, [7] hence it is also very important that human right victim participate actively not passively in the adjudication of their cases as this will give them sense of belonging and reduce their level of frustration. [8]

Another significance of the study is that historically when a human right is violated policy makers are quick to ask for what can be done to the violators [9] and the circumstantial event that precipitated such violation but very few ever ponder over what can be done about the victim or his/her circumstance. [10] This research work will take care of this issue.

Victims of human right pertinently form an integral part of the subject matter human right, and nevertheless they have not really been accorded the due recognition. This work therefore examines the treatment of crime victim in the administration of criminal justice system in Nigeria. Statistics revealed that victims of human right do not only suffer from direct impact of violate but also suffer mistreatment and neglect within the criminal justice system in the process of arrest, investigation and prosecution within the criminal justice system in the hands of police and courts.

The human right victim is rarely consulted in any decision making including “plea bargain,” [11] unlike the accused who enjoy some fundamental protection. This study will explore avenue to recommend correction towards this shortcoming.

Finally the significant of the study will encompasses rehabilitation of victim, provision of financial need and immediate or even long term medical consideration for victims as it is recognized by United Nation Declaration of Basic principles of justice for victims of human right.

1.6       Scope and Limitation

This research is on victims’ rights generally but has been narrowed to the human right and national security, though efforts have been made to sample the protection of human right victims’ rights in other jurisdictions. Local and international sources shall be used in the course of this work.


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