An Alternative to Courts for Human Rights Cases.

An Alternative to Courts for Human Rights Cases. Daily Law Tips (Tip 792) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Introduction:   

The Nigerian Courts have powers to determine civil and criminal cases. Specifically, the State High Courts, the Federal High Courts and the National Industrial Court have powers to also entertain cases of fundamental human rights, unlike the Magistrate Court, Area Courts, Customary Courts and Sharia Courts.

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However, there is another federal government agency that has powers to also entertain and decide case of fundamental human rights. The powers and relevance of the agency is very needed in Nigeria, irrespective of the roles of the courts of the Regional Economic Communities, especially, in this time, when all courts in Nigeria are closed, for failure of state executives to grant financial autonomy to the courts. Even after the strike of courts staff, the agency is still very important alternative, since courts are very expensive and too slow.

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The Hope for Victims of Human Rights Violations:

Although the courts in Nigeria are on strike, human rights violators are not on strike. There are growing numbers of criminal cases, civil disputes and human rights violations, begging for the courts to open for justice to be sought. However, the Governors of states in Nigeria have refused to grant the constitutionally approved independence of the judiciaries in their state, thereby forcing the courts to remain closed and inaccessible.

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Fundamental Human Rights are the most basic entitlements of every person in Nigeria. They are the only assurance for the existence of persons in Nigeria, so that when they are unconstitutionally violated, victims are unlawfully declared lesser persons. Hence, fundamental human rights are to be protected at all times, even when courts are closed. Justice for victims of human rights violation/abuse should not be delayed at all.

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Justice delayed is justice denied and as such, seeking alternatives to closed courts is key in access to justice, for victims of human rights violations. Also, even when the courts are open, the clogged court processes and the busy court scheduled, also make the alternative to courts, an important route in access to justice in Nigeria. Just like the courts in Nigeria, the alternative to the courts is a creation of a federal law.

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is an alternative to courts on issues of justice for victim of violation of fundamental human rights. NHRC is a special federal government agency created to promote and protect human rights across Nigeria. NHRC has powers to investigate cases of violation of human rights. The NHRC can support in seeking legal remedies on behalf of the victims of human rights violations. Also, the NHRC can recommend the prosecution of a violator of human rights and can also receive complaints, hear petitions and make determinations. The NHRC can award damages and compensation against violators of human rights in favour of victims.

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Of importance to this work, are the powers of the NHRC to receive complaints, hear petitions and make determinations; this means that like that like, the State High Courts, the Federal High Courts and the National Industrial Court, the NHRC can entertain cases of violation of fundamental human rights. Also, like any other court, the NHRC can award damages and

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compensation against violators of human rights in favour of their victims. So, as the courts remain closed, victims of violation of fundamental human rights and their well-wishers should engage the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Also, the NHRC among other things, has the duty to promptly respond to allegations of human rights violations and to promote advocacy, education, and interventions that encourage awareness on Human Rights issues. The NHRC and its services are funded by the Nigerian government, so that the service of NHRC are free to all persons in Nigeria, unlike the courts in Nigeria, where court services are never free, rather often too expensive.

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The NHRC has its headquarters at No 19 Aguiyi Ironsi Street, Maitama, Abuja, FCT. Like the State High Courts, the Federal High Courts and the National Industrial Court, the NHRC has offices across all states in Nigeria and the contacts (list of the addresses of NHRC offices across Nigeria, their phone numbers, emails and the full names of the officers in charge of each state office) can be accessed via this link; https://learnnigerianlaws.com/details-of-state-offices-of-national-human-rights-commission/

Conclusion:

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Above the closure of courts, strike of courts staff, rascality of Governors and the busyness of courts, the fundamental human rights of persons in Nigeria are more important, and as such, there should be readily available access to justice for victims of human right violations. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is an agency of Federal Government of Nigeria, funded with taxpayers funds to complement the courts  (the State High Courts, the Federal High Courts and the National Industrial Court) in the management and determination of cases of fundamental human rights violations.

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The (NHRC) is not a replacement for courts rather a complementation on issues of human rights and since the NHRC are not on strike or as busy as the courts, victims of human rights violations should approach the NHRC. Here is a link showing the NHRC offices across Nigeria; https://learnnigerianlaws.com/details-of-state-offices-of-national-human-rights-commission/

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My authorities, are:

  1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 33 to 45, 318 and 319 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  2. Sections 6, 7, 8 and 22 of the National Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Act 2010.
  3. Sections 1, 2, 5 and 6, the National Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Act 1995.
  4. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (on meaning and nature of fundamental human rights) in the case of RANSOME-KUTI & ORS v. AG FEDERATION & ORS (1985) LPELR-2940(SC)
  5. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (on meaning and nature of fundamental human rights) in the case of AGBAI & ORS v. OKOGBUE (1991) LPELR-225(SC).
  6. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (on when and why fundamental human rights can be restricted/suspended) in the case of DOKUBO-ASARI v. FRN (2007) LPELR-958(SC).
  7. National Human Rights Commission, ‘State Offices” (NHRC) <http://www.nhrc.gov.ng/index.php/regional-offices#zamfara > accessed 27 October 2020
  8. Onyekachi Umah, “Details of State Offices of National Human Rights Commission” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 27 October 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/details-of-state-offices-of-national-human-rights-commission/> accessed 14 May 2021
  9. Onyekachi Umah, “Does The President/Governors Have Powers To Lockdown Any Part Of Nigeria Or Restrict Human Rights?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 1 October 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/does-the-president-governors-have-powers-to-lockdown-any-part-of-nigeria-or-restrict-human-rights-daily-law-tips-tip-537-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 14 May 2021
  10. Onyekachi Umah, “Human Rights That Can Never Be Restricted Even In War, Pandemic or State of Emergency (Daily Law Tips [Tip 539]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/human-rights-that-can-never-be-restricted-even-in-war-pandemic-or-state-of-emergency-daily-law-tips-tip-539-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 14 May 2021
  11. Onyekachi Umah, “States & Areas Offices of Public Complaints Commission” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 20 November 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/states-areas-offices-of-public-complaints-commission/> accessed 14 May 2021
  12. Onyekachi Umah, “Complaints That The Public Complaints Commission Can Handle” (com, 30 October 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/complaints-that-the-public-complaints-commission-can-handle/> accessed 14 May 2021
  13. Stephen Ubimago, ‘Legal Aid Council: Facing Challenge Of Relevance Amid Poor Funding’ (Independent, 27 October 2020) <https://www.independent.ng/legal-aid-council-facing-challenge-of-relevance-amid-poor-funding/ > accessed 14 May 2021
  14. Onyekachi Umah, “Abandonment Of Wife/Husband, Children Or Dependants Is A Crime” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 3 December 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/abandonment-of-wife-husband-children-or-dependants-is-a-crime-daily-law-tips-tip-470-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/> accessed 20 April 2021
  15. Onyekachi Umah, “How Lagos State Is Legislatively Ahead Of Other States” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 30 September 2020 <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/how-lagos-state-is-legislatively-ahead-of-other-states/ > accessed 20 April  2021
  16. Onyekachi Umah, “The First Virtual Court Hearing Was In Borno State And Not In Lagos State.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 1 June 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/the-first-virtual-court-hearing-was-in-borno-state-and-not-in-lagos-state-daily-law-tips-tip-579-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  17. Onyekachi Umah, “Emotional, Verbal And Psychological Abuse Is Now Criminal Offences” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 3 September 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/emotional-verbal-and-psychological-abuse-is-now-criminal-offence/> accessed 28 April 2021
  18. Onyekachi Umah, “Forcing Wife to Stop Work is Now A Crime” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 21 April 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/forcing-wife-to-stop-work-is-now-a-crime/https://learnnigerianlaws.com/forcing-wife-to-stop-work-is-now-a-crime/> accessed 26 April 2021
  19. Onyekachi Umah, “It Is Now An Offence To Force Wife/Husband To Stop Working” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 28 May 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/it-is-now-an-offence-to-force-wife-husband-to-stop-working-daily-law-tips-tip-340-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/> accessed 20 April 2021
  20. Onyekachi Umah, “Seizing or Destroying the Property of a Spouse is a Crime” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 2 March 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/seizing-or-destroying-the-property-of-a-spouse-is-a-crime/> accessed 20 April 2021
  21. Onyekachi Umah, “Hiding/Concealing Domestic Violence Is A Crime” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 11 December 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/hiding-concealing-domestic-violence-is-a-crime/> accessed 20 April 2021
  22. Onyekachi Umah, “Domestic Violence Is A Crime Not A Family Dispute” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 10 December 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/domestic-violence-is-a-crime-not-a-family-dispute/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  23. Onyekachi Umah, “Why Lagos State Needs A VAPP/SGBV Law” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 26 January 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/why-lagos-state-needs-a-vapp-sgbv-law/> accessed 20 April 2021
  24. Onyekachi Umah, “Lagos State Has No VAPP/SGBV Law !” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 8 December 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/lagos-state-has-no-vapp-sgbv-law/> accessed 20 April 2021
  25. Onyekachi Umah, “An Access To Criminal Laws In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 4 December 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/an-access-to-criminal-laws-in-nigeria/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  26. Onyekachi Umah, “8 New Things About Rape Laws In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 3 December 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/8-new-things-about-rape-laws-in-nigeria/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  27. Onyekachi Umah, “ChannelsTv Interviews Onyekachi Umah on Rape and the Laws.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 20 November 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/channelstv-interviews-onyekachi-umah-on-rape-and-the-laws/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  28. Onyekachi Umah, “Can A Woman Be Charged With Rape” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 24 June 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-a-woman-be-charged-with-rape-daily-law-tips-tip-595-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-ll-m-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  29. Onyekachi Umah, “Can A Husband Rape His Wife” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 19 June 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-a-husband-rape-his-wife-daily-law-tips-tip-592-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  30. Onyekachi Umah, “When Is Seduction Or Indecent Dressing A Justification For Rape In Nigeria?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 18 June 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/when-is-seduction-or-indecent-dressing-a-justification-for-rape-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-591-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  31. Onyekachi Umah, “New Punishment For Rape In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 23 June 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/new-punishment-for-rape-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-594-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  32. Onyekachi Umah, “Rape Cannot Be Settled Out Of Court (No Room For Pay-Off/Forgiveness/Withdrawal Of Complaints” (LearnNigerianLaws.com,26 June 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/rape-cannot-be-settled-out-of-court-no-room-for-pay-off-forgiveness-withdrawal-of-complaints-daily-law-tips-tip-596-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  33. Onyekachi Umah, “A Female Too, Can BE Guilty Of Rape” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 13 December 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-248-a-female-too-can-be-guilty-of-rape-in-nigeria/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  34. Onyekachi Umah, “Ages At Which Sexual Intercourse With Consent Will Amount To Rape” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 20 February 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/ages-at-which-sexual-intercourse-with-consent-will-amount-to-rape-daily-law-tips-tip-509-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 20 April 2021
  35. Onyekachi Umah, “How To Prove Rape In Nigeria).” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 2 July 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/how-to-prove-rape-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-363-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  36. Onyekachi Umah, “Child Marriage/Abuse Is A Crime (Rape): An Exposé On Laws Prohibiting Child Marriage” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 22 June 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/child-marriage-abuse-is-a-crime-rape-an-expose-on-laws-prohibiting-child-marriage-daily-law-tips-tip-593-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  37. Onyekachi Umah, “Forced Marriage Is An Offence In Nigeria.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 21 October 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/forced-marriage-is-an-offence-in-nigeria/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  38. Onyekachi Umah, “Can a Married Woman Inherit Her Parents’ Property?”, (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 27 March 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-a-married-woman-inherit-her-parents-property-daily-law-tips-tip-535-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  39. Onyekachi Umah, “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting/Elongation, Breasts Ironing And Forced Marriage Are Now Criminal Offences In Nigeria” (Daily Law Tips [443]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-elongation-breasts-ironing-and-forced-marriage-are-now-criminal-offences-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-443-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  40. Onyekachi Umah, “Harmful Widowhood Practices (Traditions) Are Illegal In Nigeria” (Daily Law Tips [Tip 589]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/harmful-widowhood-practices-traditions-are-illegal-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-589-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  41. Onyekachi Umah, “Forceful Isolation/Separation Of Family Members/Friends Is Now An Offence In Nigeria” (Daily Law Tips [356]) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/forceful-isolation-separation-of-family-members-friends-is-now-an-offence-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-356-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/ > accessed 120 April 2021
  42. Onyekachi Umah, “Abolished Anti-Women Custom of Onitsha People of Anambra State, Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws, 10 March 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/abolished-anti-women-custom-of-onitsha-people-of-anambra-state-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-522-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  43. Onyekachi Umah, “Citizen By Marriage Is Discriminatory and Against Nigerian Women”, (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 14 September 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/citizen-by-marriage-is-discriminatory-and-against-nigerian-women/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  44. Onyekachi Umah, “Abolished Anti-Women Custom of Yoruba People of Nigeria”, (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 11 March 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/abolished-anti-women-custom-of-yoruba-people-of-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-523-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  45. Onyekachi Umah, “Can a Married Woman Inherit Her Parents Property?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 27 March 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-a-married-woman-inherit-her-parents-property-daily-law-tips-tip-535-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  46. Onyekachi Umah, “Approval For Marriage Of Female Officers/Staff Is Unconstitutional and Discriminatory”, (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 23 September 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/approval-for-marriage-of-female-officers-staff-is-unconstitutional-and-discriminatory/ > accessed 20 April 2021
  47. Onyekachi Umah, “It Is An Offence To Chase Out Wife/Husband From A Home Or Even Attempt To Do So” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 17 May 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/it-is-an-offence-to-chase-out-wife-husband-from-a-home-or-even-attempt-to-do-so-daily-law-tips-tip-333-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/> accessed 20 April 2021
  48. Onyekachi Umah, “Examining Brutalization of House Helps in Nigeria. (An Exposé on Anti-Cruel Labour Laws in Nigeria)” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 3 August 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/examining-brutalization-of-house-helps-in-nigeria-an-expose-on-anti-cruel-labour-laws-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-623-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-ll-m-aciarbuk/> accessed 27 April 2021
  49. Pic credit: businessday.ng

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