The right to life, physical safety, procreate, mutual respect, human dignity and opinion is a must for every individual in a state. All individuals are part of the scope of morality and justice, and are therefore entitled to the rights which is believed to belong to every person. Regardless of the circumstances, each and every person is entitled to marriage and family, the right to your own things, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, the right to public assembly, the right to democracy, social security, workers’ rights and more. But this is not the case as most people live in denial and fear. The anxiety of police brutality, purposeless destruction of property, legislative hijack, political oppression, gender abuse, social unrest, racial discrimination, inhuman behaviour towards prisoners, unlawful detention, abductions and many more. Our moral entitlements are being stripped off in each passing day.
Nigeria is a democratic society and should therefore uphold the principles of democracy and protect the articulation of human rights. But I do not think the correlation between democracy and human rights is truly understood. I am of the opinion that democracy is mostly thought to be “government for and by the people”. Hence, the masses are only expected to choose and replace legislators through free and fare elections, nothing more nothing less. This notion is utterly wrong. The two most important factors of democracy are civic responsibility and human rights. Although some say that human rights and democracy are two different theories, but I beg to differ on the scale of mutual connection and importance. Protecting human rights is as important as choosing governing legislation and how authority is shared amongst the people. To protect human rights is to ensure that people receive some degree of decent, humane treatment. Freedom of assembly and speech, inclusiveness and equality, membership and minority rights are some of the cornerstone of which is believed to belong to every person and must be treated with caution and regard.
However, the flagrant disregard of basic human rights in recent times has become worrisome. To violate basic human rights is to deny individuals their fundamental moral entitlements and this has become a reoccurring experience for a growing populace. Democracy is not fully executed when a government is elected or re-elected into power, as it does extend to righting liberty. But a lot of people, especially leaders do not understand that the aim of a democratic government is to improve the active participation of the citizens in politics, support the constitutional rights of all inhabitants and enforce equally applicable laws and procedures to all.
Nigeria has a history of leaders who oppress the poor majority, the common man into adhering to life threatening situations. Assaults on political rights and the fundamental right to life are typically widespread. There have been blatant intimidation since inception. Over the course of time, many are frightened by government officials and the elite class of the society. The annihilation of the dignity of a person has encouraged the shameless show of a human rights breach.
Jailing activist, arbitrary arrests, human abduction, punishing political opponents, detentions without trial, assassinations, strict dress codes, denying women of political influence, lack of proper education, suppressing ideological dissent, harsh penalties for homosexuality, physical and psychological torture, enforced sterilisation, medical experimentation and amongst others are cynical conducts and policies inflicted by many in leadership positions, which imposes severe limitations on people’s basic liberties. Just as the manner in which women suffer greater poverty than men in Nigeria. Hence, in a society that violates human rights, women are more vulnerable.
Security operatives are not left out in this inhumane behaviour. Recently police officers have become the cornerstone of humiliation. Harassing and arresting every Biodun, Emeka, Mohammed, Akpan and Peter for the sole purpose of bullying them into relinquishing their property or money. What about the judiciary system, hijacked into doing the deeds of the affluent against the poor. The magnitude in which these acts against humanity are been perpetrated is alarming. Who are the people to trust now, when the people who are to protect the citizens and the individuals who are to vindicate the unlawfully accused have been taken over.
The violations of the right to life must end. The lack of compliance has resulted to the knowledge that voices are not heard, actions does not matter and lives are unsafe. People walk on egg shells hoping not to be found at the wrong place and time, seeing that intimidation cuts across all classes. When power is given to a person or group, the first thing that comes to mind is intimidating the common man, stripping him off his human rights without consequences. This poor-drunk practises has to end. Treating people as though they are less than human and undeserving of respect and dignity has to stop.