Abuja, Nigeria. December 10th, 2019 – NOIPolls joins the world to commemorate the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Day which is observed annually across the world on 10th December. The aim of this campaign is to draw people’s attention to the issues surrounding their human rights irrespective of who or where they are in the world. In commemoration of the World Human Rights Day, NOIPolls conducted a public opinion poll to gauge the awareness and perception of Nigerians regarding their fundamental human rights.
It is important to note that during the course of the survey, most Nigerians could not fully comprehend the term “Human Rights” until it was explained to them. For instance, when asked for their understanding of “Human Rights”, most respondents spontaneously ascribed it to right to basic amenities, right to good road, right to good employment and the right to some sort of social safety-net provided by the government. However, upon clear explanation, 86 percent of the respondents claimed to be aware of their basic human rights.
The poll results also revealed that most Nigerians (83 percent) believe that human right violation is prevalent in the country. For instance, 32 percent of Nigerians interviewed disclosed that their rights have been infringed upon while few claimed that they know people whose rights have been infringed on in the past. Interestingly, respondents who stated that their right to freedom of movement, right to peaceful assembly and association, right to life, right to freedom of speech etc. had been violated before reported that the Police and government officials were mostly responsible for the violation of these rights. It is rather worrisome to note that the institutions and agencies of government that were established to protect and defend these human rights are the ones being blamed for human rights violation in Nigeria.
More findings revealed that most victims (75 percent) of human rights violation in Nigeria do not report violations committed against them. It is pertinent to note that the constitution empowers “any person who alleges any infraction ‘in relation to him or her’” to apply to the High Court for redress. However, during the course of this survey, some respondents lamented that they do not report such cases mainly due to lack of trust in the law enforcement agencies.
There is a need for the sensitization of the citizenry on the fundamental human rights through seminars, academic works and books that portray such rights as recommended by 15 percent of the respondents. Sensitization campaigns involving religious and traditional institutions, should at intervals, be carried out to educate or enlighten their subjects on the scope of their rights and how to seek redress when such rights are violated.
Given that the police and government officials are the biggest culprits as revealed by the poll, it is, therefore, imperative for routine retraining and reorientation of law enforcement officers across all cadres and government officials on what constitutes human rights as part of efforts to protect the masses. Finally, as advocated by 13 percent of the respondents, violators should be diligently prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others and this could be achieved rapidly by putting modalities in place for the proper enforcement of the laws (National Human Rights Act, 2010) that ensure that Human Rights are protected and promoted across the country. These are some of the key findings from the Human Rights Poll conducted in the week commencing 2nd December 2019.
The first question sought to gauge human rights awareness in Nigeria and the result revealed that an overwhelming majority of Nigerians claimed (86 percent) to be aware of their basic human rights.
Furthermore, findings from the poll also revealed that the issue of human rights violation is prevalent in Nigeria as indicated by a larger share of the respondents interviewed.
With regard to infringement, 32 percent of the Nigerians disclosed that their human rights have been infringed upon before and they are more male (37 percent) than female (26 percent) respondent who shares this view. Analysis of the geo-political zone showed that the North-Central zone constitutes the highest number of Nigerians in this category.
Similarly, of the 68 percent who claimed that their rights have not been infringed on before, 29 percent acknowledged that they know someone whose rights have been violated before. The North-West zone account for the highest number of respondents with this perception.
An assessment of the several rights of Nigerians that have been violated revealed that 28 percent claimed that their ‘right to freedom of movement’ had been trampled upon in one way or another. While 24 percent stated that their ‘right to peaceful assembly and association’ has been infringed on, 16 percent mentioned ‘right to life’. Similarly, ‘right to freedom of speech’ (9 percent), ‘right to dignity of human person’ (9 percent), right to fair hearing’ (8 percent) and right to freedom of expression and the press’ (7 percent) amongst others were also reported to have been infringed upon.
Subsequently, Nigerians who claimed that their rights were trampled on were further probed and sadly, findings revealed that 30 percent of the respondents disclosed that the Police is mainly responsible for violating these rights. Nigerians residing in the South-West zone (40 percent) make up the highest number of respondents who share the perception. Also, 22 percent lamented that their rights have been violated by government officials and respondents from the South-South zone accounted for the highest representation in this category.
When asked if the incident was reported, 25 percent stated that the incidence was reported while 75 indicated that it was not reported.
Of the proportion who claimed that the incidence was reported, a greater number of them mentioned that they reported to the police and respondents aged between 18 – 35 years has the highest representation in this section. While 28 percent said they reported to the court, 12 percent reported to the Human Rights Organizations amongst others.
With regards to recommendations on reducing human rights violation in the country, 62 percent of Nigerians stated that human rights activist should be allowed to play their role rather than been threatened by security personnel. Similarly, 15 percent suggested that government should create public awareness on people’s rights, 13 percent advocated for the government to enforce laws against human right violators while 8 percent recommended that the judiciary should be firm in terms of social justice.
In conclusion, the poll results have shown that most Nigerians believe that human right violation is prevalent in the country. For instance, 32 percent of Nigerians disclosed that their rights have been trampled upon before while few claimed that they know people whose rights have been infringed on before. Interestingly, respondents who claimed that their right to freedom of movement, right to peaceful assembly and association, right to life, right to freedom of speech etc. had been violated before reported that the Police and government officials ranked highest amongst other who violated these rights.
There is a need for the sensitization of the public on the scope of their fundamental human rights. This sensitization can be through seminars, paid adverts via media outlets, campaigns and the involvement of religious, traditional and civil institutions. The channels of seeking redress should also be communicated whilst direct access to organizations whose mantra includes the protection of human rights should be maintained.
Given that the police and government officials ranked highest, it is, therefore, imperative for routine retraining and reorientation of law enforcement officers across all cadres and government officials on what constitutes human rights as part of efforts to protect the masses. Finally, as advocated by 13 percent of the respondents, violators should be diligently prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others and this could be achieved rapidly by putting modalities in place for the proper enforcement of the laws (National Human Rights Act, 2010) that ensure that Human Rights are protected and promoted across the country.