Understanding and enforcing your rights (Part I)

By: Douglas Ogbankwa Esq.

As a Citizen of this Country, you have some rights that inalienable and sancrosact. Some are Fundamental Human Rights provided for by the Constitution, while others are Rights created by other Laws and Regulations. These shall be simplified without our usual legalese.

The Following are some of those Rights:

1.You have a Right to Life .Your Right to live is so sacred that even you, can not take your own life as if you attempted to do so, you will be arrested for attempted suicide, which is a crime in Nigeria.

2.Your Right to Personal Liberty: As a Citizen of this Country you have a Right to your personal liberty, which can only be denied in the enforcement of the Law or a Prison Sentence. The Police or other Security agency has no right to arrest you from the road if there is no complaint against you , except they find some thing incriminating against you in your car or bag. The Police has no right to detain you for more than 24 hours in a metropolitan area or more than 48 Hours in a Remote Area. Your Right to Bail in a Security Agency after 24 hours or 48 hours as the case may be is provided for by the Constitution.It is not a privilege, but a right. In Nigeria, you are presumed Innocent in a Criminal Matter, it is not for you to prove your innocence, it is for the complainant to prove your guilt or culpability.

3.You have a right to your private Property. To this end no Police or Security Agent can search your property with out a search warrant duly signed by a Senior Police Officer or a Magistrate. This includes your phone or laptop. No Police Man can search your phone or laptop, mostly on the road , with out a warrant with your name written on it. If they attempted to do ,simply ask them where is your search warrant? If they insist, call your Lawyer or the Police Complaint Response Unit to put in a Complaint.

4.You have a Right to be given a 30 Day disconnection Notice by your Electrical Distribution Company before any disconnection of your Electricity can take place. If that happens, with out a Notice, you can seek redress at the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), by writing a Petition with an Oath attached. If you have contested your Bill with NERC, the Electricity Distribution Company can not disconnect your Electricity until the dispute is resolved one way or the other. By Passing of Electricity is however a very serious crime that will take you to the Federal High Court, avoid it all times .

5. You have a right not be treated with cruelty and torture. No one in your place of work or at home has a right to always bully you, sexually assault you or slap or hit you. If that happens you should contact the Legal Aid Council in your State or that of the Ministry of Justice, FIDA or the Nigerian Bar Association in your city. Also by the New Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law in Edo State, it is now a crime and a violence against a Woman for man to tell the Woman to pack out of the House. The Government will Protect the Woman especially if she has no where to go.It is now a crime under the VAPP Law for a man to beat up a woman, the Man will be Charged to Court .This is not your usual, Husband and Wife Matter. There is Special Unit at the Ministry of Justice of most States that handle this, so don’t expect to see men in Black in your house, you likely to see mostly women protecting their own.

6.You have a right to Fair Hearing : This Principal is called the Principle of Natural Justice, which is built on two time honoured Latin Maxims:

“Audi Alterem Patem”-You must hear the other side .That you will afford a party in a Matter ,an ample opportunity and sufficient time to be heard ,and
“Nemo Judex In Causa Sua “.

-No man shall be a Judge in his own Cause. This means you must not be an arbiter over your own Matter or sit on a Matter in which you have a sufficient interest, that will affect the out come of the Matter one way or the other. This Principal is called the Principle of Fair Hearing, because it originated from the Garden of Eden, where the Almighty God who knows everything still gavevAdam and Eve an opportunity to defend themselves after they had eaten the forbidden fruit .

7.Consumer Rights: You have a right to consumer satisfaction according to the extant Laws in Nigeria and you can Petition a Vendor, Manufacturer or Service Provider to the Federal. Consumer and Competitions Protection Commission, where you can seek redress and secure possible compensation from any Complaint by you on any issue on any product procured by you or any service received by one. This is one area many Nigerians have not explored. You can read more about this online as you can even send your complaint through an email, by yourself.

Nigerians should learn to take up their rights and get penalties for infractions .It is penalties that deter Impunity.

About the Author :

Douglas Ogbankwa Esq., is a Benin Based Lawyer ,Writer and Public Affairs Analyst .He is the immediate past Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association,Benin Branch.

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