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Nigerian Lawyers Vow to Educate the Public on Human Rights

The Nigerian Bar Association says most people do not know their constitutionally-guaranteed rights

The Nigerian Bar Association says it is alarmed that most Nigerians do not know their rights contained in sections 33 to 43 of the constitution. They include, among others, the rights to life, a fair hearing, freedom of expression, thought and religion, and freedom from discrimination.

Patrice Ukposi, who chairs the human rights committee of the Nigerian Bar Association in Port Harcourt, said ‘”Not many Nigerians are very aware of these fundamental human rights. Even some graduates from universities appear to be ignorant of a lot of [them]."

Ukposi blamed the problem on casual attitudes and on poverty.

He said security agencies, especially the police, do not react well to people want to assert their rights.

‘’There are circumstances where people are assaulted. You see police manhandling suspects. Rather than eliciting questions from suspects or people complained against, the police end up beating [them],” he says.

Ukposi says the bar association will help mount a campaign to educate the public.

‘’We are getting to the public, through the press. We will [ask] the public to call us each time their fundamental human rights are infringed on," he says. "‘’We want the public to know that they have rights enshrined in the constitution, and that they can insist on [them].”