A shift towards culture and skills development: A solution for internally displaced persons in Nigeria

Tim Sahliu BraimahAuthor: Tim Sahliu Braimah
Human Rights Researcher

The ongoing insurgency by Boko Haram and the terrorist activities it has perpetrated since 2009 has led to a huge displacement of people from Northern Nigeria. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, there is an estimated 2,152,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria. While there is no international binding instrument for IDPs, Nigeria is a signatory to the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention). Nigeria ratified the Kampala Convention on 17 April 2012 which means that it has a primary duty and responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to IDPs within Nigeria.[1] Irrespective of this ratification, Nigeria’s treatment of IDPs remains poor. According to reports, some challenges IDPs face in camps include inconsistent and poor feeding, poor sanitary conditions, and a lack of proper medical conditions and security.[2]

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The right to happiness in Africa

saul_lealAuthor: Saul Leal
Vice-Chancellor Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA)

Leopold Sedar Senghor said: emotion is African.[1] This emotion has been channeled to constitutions. Happiness is a core value in many African constitutions. It was explicitly mentioned in Liberia, Namibia, Ghana, Nigeria, Swaziland, and Egypt.

Article 1 of the Constitution of Liberia, 1986, proclaims that all free governments are instituted by the people’s authority, for their benefit, and they have the right to alter and reform it when their safety and ‘happiness’ require it.[2] The preamble of the Egyptian Constitution, 2014, cites ‘a place of common happiness for its people’.   The Namibian Constitution, 1990, assures the right ‘to the pursuit of happiness’. In this regard, Frederick Fourie defends the preamble of the Namibian Constitution, explaining that it is coloured by the struggle against colonialism and racism; that it is built around the denial of the ‘right of the individual life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ by colonialism, racism and apartheid.[3]

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Happiness as constitutional empowerment in Nigeria

saul_lealAuthor: Saul Leal
Vice-Chancellor Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA)

In Nigeria, happiness is understood as a Constitutional right and is more than a mere linguistic expression. Section 16(1)(b) of the Constitution provides that ‘the State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution, control the national economy in such a manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and “happiness” of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity’. Nigeria thus constitutionalized happiness as part as its movement toward to a sustainable economy. This prevents the interference of economy with the people’s happiness.[1]

Nigeria shows how commitment to peoples’ happiness is able to diminish the strength of money in areas which must not be sold, thus emphasizing that there are things that money cannot buy. The African collective trauma caused by the intense economic exploitation conducted by the colonial system shows its value by inserting limitative factor into a constitutional provision in order to face the eventual side effects of unlimited economic power. The Nigerian government’s decision to deregulate the pricing of petroleum, the nation’s most valuable asset, ended up in court in a case which reached landmark status.

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A review of the work of the African Commission’s Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa

Miriam AzuAuthor: Miriam Azu
Lawyer, Human Rights Advocate and Environmental Activist

The Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa (Working Group) is an oversight mechanism of the African human rights system. Its general mandate is to monitor and report on how extractive activities affect the human rights and environment of the African peoples.[1] This article briefly evaluates what the Working Group has done so far vis-à-vis its mandate, notes some of its challenges and concludes with recommendations on the way forward.

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Happiness and same-sex affection

saul_lealAuthor: Saul Leal
Vice-Chancellor Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA)

Chinelo Okparanta is a Nigerian writer, currently living as a citizen in the United States. She understands the prejudices of her native country, especially against homosexuals. In some parts of Nigeria, a gay individual may be stoned to death under the Shari’a law. Okparanta writes, in her lesbian romance Happiness like Water, ‘yes, our love may be hidden, but it is strong. It can still bring happiness’.[1]

Why must the love between two consenting adults be hidden? Should the State have the power to decide towards whom one may show affection? These disconcerting questions may be answered in terms of global Constitutions.

The most important Brazilian decision which entailed the right to happiness was in 2011.[2] The Supreme Court had to rule on the interpretation to be given to article 1.723 of the Civil Code, which only recognizes a common-law relationship between a man and a woman as a family unit which must be public knowledge, continuous, and long-lasting, and be established for the purpose of building a family. The need for the aforementioned ruling resulted from the fact that government bodies refused to grant these rights to homo-affectionate couples. Therefore, the Court had to decide if this union also covered same-sex couples, even though the provision expressly mentions ‘man and a woman’.[3]

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The National Migration Policy and its implementation framework: A precursor for a more effective migration governance in Nigeria

Uche Hilary-OgbonnaAuthor: Uche Hilary-Ogbonna

Humanitarian Affairs Officer, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (UN OCHA) Abuja

Legal frameworks are the bedrock for any effective management system. They underscore the importance of articulating a set of aspirations in concise directives and regulations, offering guidance to the myriad of field operatives and interventions in the varied sectors of migration management, development or the society at large. For the migration sector in Nigeria, it has been a long, tough journey to the adoption of the National Migration Policy and its implementation framework. The Policy is widely considered a breakthrough piece of legal document which came to fruition on account of years of toil by a host of government functionaries, development actors, the academia and civil society organizations.

The Policy comes at a very important time in the global migratory scene with the rise in international migration across the Mediterranean resulting in multiple deaths. With over 170 million citizens, Nigeria is important in migration management as a country of origin, transit and destination for migrants. Nigeria faces challenges such as effective diaspora engagement and remittances, inter-regional, rural-urban migration flows, migration of highly skilled and unskilled labour, data generation, as well as trafficking in persons to mention a few.

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Nigerian schoolgirl kidnappings not just an act of terrorism

karen_stefiszynAuthor: Karen Stefiszyn
Programme Manager: Gender Unit, Centre for Human Rights

The kidnapping by Boko Haram of over 200 school girls in Northern Nigeria is an act of gender based violence for which not only Boko Haram is responsible, but also the Nigerian government. Indeed the militant group has carried out atrocities against boys and men that are equally deplorable, however, in this instance it is not by chance that Boko Haram kidnapped girls. They were targeted because they are girls.

The leader of Boko Haram said in a video shortly after the kidnapping that he would sell the girls in the market. His statement is reflective of an exceptional disdain for girls, which did not exist in isolation, but within a patriarchal society where harmful stereotypes perpetuate girls’ inferiority and enable violence against women to be an accepted norm. Amnesty International has reported that up to two thirds of Nigerian women may have experienced violence in the home by an intimate partner. While domestic violence differs in nature from the kidnapping of over 200 school girls, the common thread is the context within which the acts occur; in a society which does not accord women equal value and provides the structural conditions whereby a girl or woman can be abused in the home or kidnapped and threatened to be sold in the market.

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Nigeria’s National Conference: The right to have it right in the education sector

Olaniyi OlayinkaAuthor: Olaniyi Olayinka
Principal Assistant Registrar (Legal Matters) at The Polytechnic, Ibadan (Nigeria)

Calls for an all-inclusive National Conference to fashion out Nigeria’s national focus dates back to before 1922 – the Clifford Constitution – which until recently was never held. President Goodluck Jonathan in his 2013 Independence Day broadcast appointed a committee to facilitate the realisation of the conference. Author Uzodinma Nwaogbe has identified disunity, lack of faith and trust amongst citizens of Nigeria as some of the issues the conference should tackle and has given his support for the conference. The conference, according to Nwaogbe, is a platform for Nigerians to talk about issues that will help develop the country irrespective of religious, political and ethnic difference.

The Nigerian constitution, per Section 18(1), clarifies educational objectives of the government and provides that:

“Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels.”

This article will determine the adequacy of funding for education in Nigeria and how the conference can pave the way for an improvement.

Education is under the purview of both the federal and state governments, and being less generous about funding education is plausible because they both draw from the same purse.

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South Africa apartheid lawsuit – The end of the epopee?

Marek Jan WasinskiAuthor: Marek Jan Wasinski
Assistant Professor and Chair of Public International Law and International Relations – Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Lodz, Poland

On 21 August 2013, the 2nd United States (US) Circuit Court of Appeal reached a decision on a decade long putative class action suits brought on behalf of individuals harmed by the South African apartheid regime. The suits were originally initiated by two groups of plaintiffs, the Balintulo (or Khulumani plaintiffs) and the Ntsebeza plaintiffs against corporate defendants (namely: Daimler, Ford, and IBM). Plaintiffs asserted that the South African subsidiary companies of the defendants aided and abetted violations of customary international law committed by the (then) South African government. It was claimed inter alia that subsidiary companies had sold cars and computers to the South African government, thus facilitating race-based depredations and injustices, including rape, torture, and extrajudicial killings. A legal basis for the US court’s jurisdiction was the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), a famous part of the Judiciary Act of 1789, conferring federal jurisdiction over “any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States”. The ATS remained dormant nearly for two centuries until it spectacularly entered the stage before 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeal in a Filartiga v Pena-Irala wherein Paraguay citizens were allowed to sue a former Paraguayan police officer allegedly involved in an extrajudicial killing of a Paraguayan dissident’s son in Paraguay. The decision in Filartiga led to a dramatic rise in international human rights litigation in US courts, involving not only suits against private individuals but also against corporate entities for aiding and abetting violations of the law of nations. There were instances of such litigations ending with profitable settlements. For example, in Abdullahi v Pfizer Inc., Pfizer has reportedly agreed to pay $75 million as compensation for illegal clinical trials in Nigeria. Similarly in Wiwa v Shell Oil Co., faced with claims of complicity in murder, torture, and other crimes related to oil production in the Niger Delta, the Shell provided $15.5 million as compensation to those affected.

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