The effectiveness of every law in a country lies in the hands of those enforcing it as well as those abiding by it, but the real truth is, most Nigerians really do not know their rights and those who do, are too scared to come forth and fight for what is correct by right. However, despite setting up various bodies to check the violations of the human right law in Nigeria, either by the government or NGO’s, the situation has not really improved, as most officials who have been appointed or employed into such organizations, hardly do enough.
“The UN General Assembly proclaimed 10 December as Human Rights Day in 1950, to bring to the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’ the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”.
It is often said that, to whom much is given, much is expected. The police in Nigeria, like every other law enforcing body in the world, has been entrusted with much work but in performing these duties, many have been accused of corruption. Road blocks are set up as a means of extorting motorists, who end up losing their lives in some occasions. Crimes committed by the police in Nigeria are mostly overlooked or carpeted by corrupt officials. In a country where bribes guarantee safety, those who cannot afford to pay are at risk of being denied justice by the police. Detainees are often held for longer than the constitutionally guaranteed 48 hours before being brought before a judge, often waiting weeks for months. Prisoners are often detained in appalling conditions, waiting long periods for trial as the justice system is riddled with delays. Prisoners are kept in awful conditions and often pay for food and medical care themselves, as the police hardly provides any of these. The police are under paid and even most a times, do not get their salaries; these has made them more desperate to get money, as the lives of their families depend on it. Many Nigerians therefore, do not trust the police with their security any more.
More so, oil firms in Nigeria, have done little or nothing for the indigenous tribes in the regions where they explore petroleum; the people have no means of getting good water supply, as the only source has been polluted by these oil firms. The harmful practice of gas flaring, made illegal in 1984, still continues as norms that are supposed to protect the environment are poorly enforced. Government agencies responsible for enforcement are ineffective and, in some cases, compromised by conflicts of interest. Communities in the Niger Delta have little or no access to vital information about the impact of the oil exploration on their lives.
However, the Nigerian government and other nongovernmental organizations have done well, though not 100% in fighting for women and children, who are the most fragile beings in every society. Some women and even children have been raped, ill treated and abused by either their husband’s, individuals or guardian’s and those who could not speak out in the past, have been given a voice by the government and NGO’s, who continue to encourage victims to speak out. Some NGO’s and individuals, are working actively, making sure that these victims get justice and so far, many have gotten justice while some still have their cases in court.
The justice system has been plagued with corruption in recent times, and Nigerians do not trust the system enough, as it is believed that only the wealthy few can get proper justice. Families of victims often can not afford to seek justice or redress, because they can not pay for a lawyer or the court fees and even when they do, cases get delayed and often swept under the carpet. Corrupt leaders and the elite, often buy their way through trials, and rather than get purnished adequately, get freed or given lesser punishments; however, due to the courage of some human right activists, individuals and journalists, who have continued to speak out and putting their lives in the process, the justice system is gradually getting back on track.
Previous government’s in Nigeria, has often failed the citizenry by not keeping to their promises of providing proper health care, improved power supply, good education, water supply and security. People often provide these basic amenities for themselves, as Nigerians often do not depend on the government due to high level of insincerity in the country. However, democracy has therefore seen things improve and though, the country maybe crawling, more people are getting actively involved in seeing the country progress and those who can not get involved directly, speak out on social medias at every chance they get, without fear of attack or stigmatization from highly placed individuals; all thanks to the freedom of speech bill signed into law by the present government. It is therefore, a general believe in Nigeria, that things will get better with time.