As Nigeria join the world to mark this years human rights day with the theme ‘embrace diversity, end discrimination interest is raised about the universal declaration that stipulates that human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They should enjoy right to life, social services, education, liberty and security despite race, colour, sex, language, religion and political affiliation.
But in spite of this provision, human rights abuses have persisted in the society.
A social scientist with the University of Port Harcourt Dr. Kinikanwo Anele noted that poor infrastructure and corruption have continued to hinder economic growth as well as subjected the majority to live on one hundred and fifty naira per day, an abuse that should be corrected.
Dr. Anele highlighted extra-judicial killings, vigilante violence, harsh prison conditions, human trafficking and child labour as some of the major violations of human rights in the country. He emphasized the need for Nigerians particularly relevant agencies to respect human rights.
To Mrs. Florence Fiberesima, head directorate for citizen’s rights, ministry of justice however, human rights practice has improved significantly in the country due to intensive public enlightenment campaigns carried out by government agencies saddled with rights protection tasks and civil society groups.
She noted that cultural practices, background, religion, and illiteracy among the people have remained major handicap to actualizing the benefits of the United Nations declaration. While condemning the abuse of human rights by some law enforcement agents Mrs. Fiberesima advised people whose rights have been violated to discard fear and seek redress in court.
A member of the public Samuel Okujagu said he was denied possession of a piece of land he inherited from his parents by some individuals in his community and has resigned fate to god to defend him against his oppressors.
Other respondents who recommended due process to redress abuses regretted that few individuals are seen living above the law, creating an offensive imbalance in the society made worse by increased poverty, lack of basic amenities, and increased materialism in the society.
All the respondents agreed that the universal day for human rights has become a point of reference to examine efforts and spur for greater human rights protection across the world.