The Violation Of Human Rights; A Critical Review Of The Endsars Protest In Lagos State

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The Violation Of Human Rights; A Critical Review Of The Endsars Protest In Lagos State


Abstract


In November 2017, there was an online protest against police brutality and highhandedness in Nigeria. By October 2020, the citizens’ discontent and dissatisfaction with the activities of the police led to a mass revolt against the institution, specifically against the Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) of the force, which continuously infringed the human right of and tortured many Nigerians immensely. However the protest(EndSars Protested), which was initially regarded as a peaceful protested turned violent and bloody as majority of protesters were shot dead by the Nigerian force especially in Lagos State. The extant literature has identified governance deficit, illiteracy of police officers, the dynamics of the political economy and youth activism as factors that fueled the protest. The present study, therefore, explores the violation of human right during the EndSars Protest in Lagos State. Through the use of secondary sources of data collection and content analysis, the work found out that there is a trend and pattern of authoritarian governance and violation of human rights by the Nigerian state, which seems to have emanated from the long years of military rule and colonisation. The implication of the foregoing is that the state ought to imbibe democratic ethos as a condition for upholding the fundamental human rights of its citizens.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Human rights are “rights which all human beings have by virtue of their humanity, such as the right to life, dignity of human person, personal liberty, fair hearing and freedom of thought, conscience and religion. They provide a common standard of behavior among the international community.” They are natural, rational, inviolable, and unalterable, the deprivation of which would constitute a grave affront to one’s sense of justice. Rights, as defined, are generally understood as, “moral-political claims which by contemporary consensus, every human being has or is deemed to have upon his society or government,” claims which are recognized“ as of right” and “not by love or grace or charity.” Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, provides for fundamental rights of citizens, including the right to life, right to dignity of human person, right to personal liberty, right to fair hearing, right to private and family life, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, right to freedom of movement, right to freedom from discrimination, and the right to acquire and own property anywhere in Nigeria. Also, in chapter II, provisions are made for several other rights under the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy. Human rights, as noted by an astute author, “are more than a collection of formal norms, they are dynamic political, social, economic, juridical, as well as moral, cultural and philosophical conditions which define the intrinsic value of man and his inherent dignity.” Dating back to the colonial era, the human rights records of the Nigerian state has been consistently poor and unimpressive. In the recent past, the situation has not significantly improved. This has led to an increased authoritarian practice and human rights abuse (Ochonu, 2005).

For instance, just three days after Nigeria and Nigerians were still basking in the euphoria of the Nations sixty years anniversary in 2020 as an independent nation, a report online about the Special Anti-Robbery Squad(SARS), a special unit of the police force, killing a young man in Delta State and driving off with his vehicle led to massive protests across the country (Chinam, 2020). SARS in Nigeria was established to address insecurity and crimes in the nation. Rather than achieve their stated objective, they began profiling and harassing young people which led to wrongful arrests, brutalization and loss of innocent lives. The EndSARS protest in October had been in the offing for long and in response to the recent deaths instigated by SARS officers, anti-SARS protests erupted across the nation and around the world. The protest went beyond the narrow confines of ending police brutality and metamorphoses into a full-scale cross-examination of the governance process with incisive questions being asked about the workings of the system. Although these protests were taking place simultaneously across all major cities in Nigeria, the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos was considered a major national anchor point and epicentre of the #EndSARS protest.

The protesters demanded the abolition of SARS, immediate release of all arrested protesters, provisions of appropriate compensation for the families of the victims of police brutality, the establishment of an independent panel of inquiry on police brutality both at the federal and state levels and increasing the salary of police officers. However, regardless of the peaceful nature of the protest, inhumane tragedies which hampered human right still took place, which include the extrajudicial killing of protestants, imposed lockdown(restriction of movement against protesters), restricted freedom of speech among others. This study therefore tends to critically review the EndSars protest: perspective of human right violation.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The Nigeria Police unit called Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) had been accused of the excessive use of force in discharging their duties. They have earned an ill-reputation as a unit in the Nigeria Police force that have hunted the youths of Nigeria and exude so much commitment to extortion, abuse, assault and eventual killings of Nigeria youths. SARS unit had failed in its duty of ensuring a society free of kidnapping, armed robbery and other heinous armed related crimes. The SARS unit has failed in the protection of life and property. They have consequently abused their office severally over the years, thereby giving room for the protest by the Nigeria youths to end the SARS unit.

Hence, in November 2017, there was an online protest against police brutality and highhandedness in Nigeria. By October 2020, the citizens’ discontent and dissatisfaction with the activities of the police led to a mass revolt against the institution, specifically against the Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) of the force, which continuously infringed the human right of and tortured many Nigerians immensely. However the protest (EndSars Protested), which was initially regarded as a peaceful protested turned violent and bloody as majority of protesters were shot dead by the Nigerian force especially in Lagos State.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The overall aim of this study is to examine the violation of human rights: a critical review of the EndSars protest in Lagos State. Hence, the study will be channeled to the following specific objectives;

  1. Review the causes and escalation of the EndSars Protest.
  2. Determine the constitutional fundamental human rights that were violated before and during the #EndSars protest.
  3. Ascertain the victims of #EndSARS protest and abuse of human rights during the protest.

1.4 Research Question

The study will be guided by the following questions;

  1. What is the causes and escalation of the EndSars Protest?
  2. What are the constitutional fundamental human rights that were violated before and during the #EndSars protest in Lagos State?
  3. Who/what are the victims of #EndSARS protest and abuse of human rights during the protest in Lagos State?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This research looked critically into the implication of human right violation in Nigeria both individually and nationally. This study is very important to the extent that respect for human right is important in democratic governance. It exposes the inability of the Nigerian government to halt the violations of the rights of her citizens by the Nigerian police, and the danger that the practice portends for its nascent democracy. It also seeks to shed light on the complexities of the laws in Nigeria on peaceful assembly and protest. It also seeks to reveal the vague nature of the Nigeria Law on the use of force during protest and porosity of laws guiding protest in Nigeria.

Additionally, subsequent researchers will use it as literature review. This means that, other students who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review. Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regards to the violation of human rights: a critical review of the EndSars protest in Lagos State.


1.6 Scope of the Study

This study is structured to generally examine the violation of human rights: a critical review of the EndSars protest in Lagos State. The study covers the review of the causes and escalation of the EndSars Protest, determine the constitutional fundamental human rights that were violated before and during the #EndSars protest, and ascertain the victims of #EndSARS protest and abuse of human rights during the protest.


1.7 Methodology of the Study

This study is based on a qualitative approach, in which information is obtained from secondary sources, and it will be analysed using a narrative method that will lean more towards the interpretivist approach. This study, being descriptive as well as historical, relied essentially on secondary information sources gathered by the researcher via many books, articles, group discussions, and casual face-to-face interviews.


1.8 Limitation of the Study

Like in every human endeavour, the researcher encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection. More so, the researcher simultaneously engaged in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.


1.9 Definition of Terms

Violation:

A breach or infraction, as of a law, right, or obligation; transgression. an act of infringing.

Human Rights:

Human rights are moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected in municipal and international law.

Police Brutality:

Police brutality is the excessive and unwarranted use of force by law enforcement. It is an extreme form of police misconduct or violence and is a civil rights violation. It also refers to a situation where officers exercise undue or excessive force against a person.


Chapter Five


Conclusion and Recommendation

The study have demonstrated that the brutality of the Nigerian police, or specifically the Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS), is not a spur of the moment action or a spontaneous event; rather, it is a pattern and routine that is traceable to the colonial government and the nature of post-colonial character of the Nigerian state. The study highlighted how the contents of the Nigeria Police Act and the Public Order Act infringe on the fundamental human right of the citizens, who decided to express their dissatisfaction with the situation through protests. In addition, the study demonstrated the ignoble role of the police in wasting the lives of some youth, which triggered the #EndSARS protest, a situation that, ironically, continued during the protest. The study was a departure from the prevailing analysis of the #EndSARS protest because through the theory of the state in a post- colonial society, with its major assumption of state‘s interventionist character, weak economic base, corruption and embezzlement of funds and dependency, the study narrowed the explanation down to the action and inaction of the government functionaries, especially those wielding the apparatus of force whose quest for the material gains compromise their constitutional job specifications as agents for the protection of people‘s fundamental human rights.

There is, therefore, the need to reorient the police about their job specifications and the inalienable entitlements of all humanity to these rights despite their race, geography, material wealth and the disposition of those at the helm of affairs. The government can start this by recruiting those who have a passion for humanity into the police force and establishing a retraining process that periodically appraises the state of human rights compliance among police officers. There is the need also for the youth to develop a different negotiating skill other than protests and to apply restraint under provocation, given that the greater percentage of those who have lost their lives before, during and after the protest are the youth. Finally, when those who govern the masses follow the spirit and letters of the constitution, it will lessen the antagonism between the governors and the governed.


The Violation Of Human Rights; A Critical Review Of The Endsars Protest In Lagos State


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Frequently Asked Questions


What are three examples of human rights violation?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

What are some examples of human rights violations?

The government has been accused of disregarding allegations of human … Citing examples of the government’s failure to provide security in Rohingya camps, the report referred to some murders in Rohingya camps, including the killing of Rohingya rights …

What are some human rights violations around the world?

— From the rampant violence and sexual abuse of women to the crimes against humanity committed by dictators, human rights violations are occurring worldwide. International human rights advocates remained tenacious, inciting massive protests and public condemnation to bring consequences to those who strip humans of their most basic rights.

What you should know about the U.S. and Human Rights?

The United States has long recognized the government must play a role in ensuring “freedom from want,” as coined by F.D.R., invoked by the Obama administration, and incorporated as one of the “four freedoms” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What is considered violation of human rights?

What is considered a violation of human rights? Human rights violations occur when actions by state (or non-state) actors abuse, ignore, or deny basic human rights (including civil, political, cultural, social, and economic rights).

What are some human rights violations?

“While we note the actions already taken against some perpetrators of human rights violations amongst security forces, the relevant Ugandan authorities should urgently ensure a comprehensive investigation into all the reported abuses, including the …

Who can violate human rights?

Human rights can only be violated by other humans. Being eaten by a bear is not a violation of a right to life because the bear has no idea what a right might be. Only human beings are capable of understanding the concept of rights. Rights emerge from an agreement among the society as to the sanctity of the individual conscientiousness.

What are some human rights violations?

“While we note the actions already taken against some perpetrators of human rights violations amongst security forces, the relevant Ugandan authorities should urgently ensure a comprehensive investigation into all the reported abuses, including the …

What is considered violation of human rights?

What is considered a violation of human rights? Human rights violations occur when actions by state (or non-state) actors abuse, ignore, or deny basic human rights (including civil, political, cultural, social, and economic rights).

What are the consequences of violating human rights?

What are the consequences of violating human rights? “Human rights violations are among the root causes of every form of insecurity and instability. Failure to ensure good governance, the equitable rule of law and inclusive social justice and development can trigger conflict, as well as economic, political and social turmoil,” said Pillay.

What are three examples of human rights violation?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” 

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