It is quite sickening when I watch videos, see pictures or read stories of people who are victimized for one reason or the other by members of the public on the pretext that such people have been accused of committing crimes. It is more troubling when such acts are carried out without referring the accused to a court of justice or at least to the police because most times, the allegations are usually false. A case in point is the Aluu4 tragedy where four students were falsely accused of being thieves by a debtor who was trying to avoid paying his debt and the community gathered a mob who beat, set ablaze and killed the four promising youths in cold blood or the woman accused of stealing in a popular Lagos market and was stripped naked, beating, sexually assaulted and paraded by the hoodlums in the market. It’s funny how most Nigerians look away or join the fun rather than fight to protect the rights of the Nigerian being breached and probably save them from the violent implications of mob justice.
Security agencies are also not absolved from inflicting acts of inhuman and degrading treatment on accused persons held being bars, it’s not unusual to see policemen beating, slapping and man-handling citizens because they refuse to follow the policeman’s orders. It’s a rule of thumb that you wouldn’t want to cross a solder or you may as well be ready for
maximum shishi a torrent of blows and cracks from a
horse whip. It sickens me when I come across instances where Nigerians are
treated like second-class citizens in their country by the very agents employed
to protect them. This is an act that cannot continue with impunity, the
provisions of the Constitution cannot continue to be trampled on.
Every individual according to Section 34 of the Constitution is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and no person shall be subject to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment; neither shall any person be held in slavery or servitude; and no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour. Mob justice is a violation of this right, so also is torture by the Nigerian police or any other member of the armed forces that use such ineffective tactics of investigation.
It is important to note that, any labour required in consequence of the sentence or order of a court or any labour required of members of the armed forces or the police force in pursuance of their duties do not come under this rule. Neither does any communal service, civic obligation to a community or act of compulsory National service come under this rule.
The National Human Right Commission is saddled with the responsibility of protecting the rights of Nigerians and investigating/prosecuting cases of inhuman and degrading treatment against Nigerians. Lawyers also have a duty to protect the sanctity of the law and the promotion of the Rule of Law in the country by standing up for the rights of the common Nigerian. We need to do more as a people and as a Nation to promote the fundamental human rights of everyone.
Do you know any instances where people have been subjected to degrading treatment, lets here it in the comment box.
Adedunmade Onibokun, Esq.
Adedunmade is a legal practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria. He holds a Masters degree in International Business Law from the University of Bradford and publishes the Legalnaija law blog.