The sad truth about human rights violations in Nigeria

Human rights are embedded in our laws to keep humans from living in a barbaric and animalistic way, where the strong survive, and the weak are eliminated. However, the issue of human rights abuses and violations is prevailing in many societal structures in Nigeria. Painfully, most of the human rights cases go unreported. Below are salient examples on different ways gross human rights violations have happened in Nigeria in recent times and why the dignity of victims is sacrosanct.


Although the Nigerian press remains purportedly free, several arrests and detention of journalists and activists overtime suggests a disturbing trend toward repression of freedom of expression and media. In August 2018, a social media campaign for the release of Jones Abiri, a journalist and publisher of Weekly Source Newspaper, forced the DSS to bring him before an Abuja Magistrate court, more than two years after his detention in 2016. The court eventually discharged him of the charges because the prosecution failed to substantiate them.

Similarly, an Abuja court conditionally released Premium Times’ journalist, Samuel Ogundipe in August 2018 amid protests and campaigns for his freedom. He was arrested and prosecuted by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)for allegedly refusing to disclose the source for a story about thePolice Inspector General, Ibrahim Idris.

Cases of violation of the rights of journalists abound in many parts of the country during the general elections. WSCIJ condemns the unfair treatment and attacks on journalists and members of the civil society during the 2019 general elections. These cases among several others have indicated strong abuse of human rights and intimidation of the citizens. To foster democratic practices, we must ensure a safer living environment is provided for the citizens and that the human rights laws are strictly adhered to.


Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria {as amended} provides for the right to life, right to dignity of human person, right to personal liberty, right to fair hearing, right to private and family life, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, right to freedom of expression and the press, right to peaceful assembly and association, right to freedom of movement, right to freedom from discrimination, and right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria, for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of human persons.

Sadly though,the National Human Rights Commission reported that under the Department of Security Services (DSS) Director General, Lawal Daura’s three-year leadership, the agency repeatedly violated rights, including carrying out unlawful arrests, prolonged detention without trial, and torture of detainees. After which he was dismissed in August 2018 for the unauthorised sealing of the National Assembly by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who took the action while he was acting president.

In similar vein, there have been several cases of violation of rights of the citizens by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). These include extortion, illegal arrests and detention, torture, and extra-judicial killings.

The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism strongly denounces human rights violation and abuse. We maintain that no citizen should feel unsafe in their country. For our societies to be progressive economically, socially and politically, we must ensure that laws are ratified and efficient structures are put in place by appropriate authorities so as to foster the restoration of human dignity.

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