A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF HUMAN RIGHT VIOLATION DURING THE ENDSARS PROTEST IN NIGERIA.
1.1 Background of the study
Human rights are "rights that all human beings possess by virtue of their humanity, such as the right to life, human dignity, personal liberty, due process, and freedom of thought, conscience, and religion." They provide a uniform code of behavior for the worldwide community. They are inherent, reasonable, inviolable, and unalterable, and their loss would be a grievous insult to one's sense of justice. According to modern consensus, rights are defined as "moral-political claims that every human being has or is acknowledged to have against his society or government," claims that are recognized "as of right" and "not via love, kindness, or charity." The right to life; the right to human dignity; the right to personal liberty; the right to a fair trial; the right to private and family life; the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; the right to freedom of movement; the right to be free from discrimination; and the right to acquire and own property anywhere in Niger are all enshrined in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Additionally, Chapter II makes provisions for a number of other rights under the state's core purposes and directive principles. As one insightful commentator put it, "human rights are more than a collection of formal standards; they are dynamic political, social, economic, juridical, as well as moral, cultural, and philosophical circumstances that determine man's fundamental worth and inherent dignity." Since the colonial period, the Nigerian state's human rights record has been constantly low and unimpressive. The situation has not considerably improved in recent years. This has resulted in an upsurge in authoritarian practices and violations of human rights (Ochonu, 2005).
For example, just three days after Nigeria and Nigerians were still basking in the euphoria of the nation's 60th anniversary of independence in 2020, an online report about the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a special unit of the police force, killing a young man in Delta State and driving away with his vehicle sparked massive protests across the country (Chinam, 2020). SARS was founded in Nigeria to handle the country's instability and criminality. Rather of accomplishing their claimed goal, they started targeting and harassing young people, resulting in erroneous arrests, brutalization, and the death of innocent individuals. The October EndSARS demonstration had been planned for a long time, and in reaction to recent SARS officer-initiated fatalities, anti-SARS rallies erupted throughout the country and across the globe. The demonstration expanded beyond the modest goal of stopping police violence and morphed into a full-fledged study of the governing process, with pointed questions about the system's operation. Although similar demonstrations occurred concurrently in all major cities throughout Nigeria, the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos was deemed a significant national anchor point and epicenter of the #EndSARS campaign.
The protesters demanded the abolition of SARS, the immediate release of all arrested protesters, adequate compensation for the families of police brutality victims, the establishment of an independent panel of inquiry into police brutality at both the federal and state levels, and an increase in police officer salaries. Regardless of the protest's nonviolent character, horrific tragedies harmed human rights, including extrajudicial executions of protestors; imposing lockdown (restricted of mobility against protesters); and limiting freedom of expression, among others. As a result, this study takes a critical look at the EndSars protest from the standpoint of human rights breaches.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police has been accused of disproportionate use of force in carrying out its tasks. They have developed an unfavorable image as a unit inside the Nigerian Police Force that has been hunting Nigerian teenagers and radiates such a strong devotion to extortion, abuse, assault, and eventually murdering Nigerian youths. SARS has failed in its mission to provide a society free of abduction, armed robbery, and other terrible armed-related crimes. SARS has failed to safeguard human life and property. Their misuse of authority has sparked demonstrations by Nigerian youths who seek to prevent the presence of the SARS unit.
As a result, an online protest against police brutality and highhandedness in Nigeria occurred in November 2017. In October 2020, people' unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the police's operations sparked a huge uprising against the institution, particularly against the force's Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS), which regularly violated citizens' human rights and tortured several Nigerians. However, what began as a peaceful protest (EndSars Protested) became violent and gruesome as the bulk of protestors were shot dead by Nigerian security forces, particularly in Lagos State.
1.3 Objective Of The Study
The overall aim of this study is to evaluate human right violation during the ENDSARS protest in Nigeria. 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 Nigeria?
3. Who/what are the victims of #EndSARS protest and abuse of human rights during the protest in Nigeria?
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 evaluate human right violation during the ENDSARS protest in Nigeria. 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.