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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70359 Find in a Library
Title: Human Rights in the Nigerian Context - A Case Study and Discussion of the Nigerian Police
Journal: Universal Human Rights  Volume:1  Issue:2  Dated:(April-June 1979)  Pages:43-61
Author(s): M Carter; O Marenin
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 19
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Public attitudes towards the Nigerian police are used to exemplify the interrelationships between human rights, police behavior, and political stability.
Abstract: Disputes regarding the transfer of power to independent governments in sub-Saharan Africa, beginning in 1975, centered around two major questions: is the core content of human rights separable into economic and political rights, and what is the relation of individual political rights to development? Both sides agree that a minimum level of social order is necessary for the development of political and economic stability, and that a minimum consensus, rather than coercion alone, is needed to support this minimal order. To the extent, then, that respect by government for some human rights is essential for consensus or legitimacy (in the sense of popular acceptance), some government support for human rights is necessary for development. The police are the enforcers of specific rights policies, either through the protection of rights where violations are threatened, or through the carrying out of official acts of malefaction when these are prescribed by a regime. Therefore they are closely involved in the success or failure of a government. In less than two decades, Nigeria has experienced a parliamentary and republican system of government, a succession of military governments, one of the major civil wars of this century, and a protracted period of preparation for a return to civilian rule. Many of the country's problems were the results of a failure to establish or maintain more than the appearance of constitutionalism. Survey and public opinion findings in 1975 and 1976 showed that a substantial part of the population was aware of human rights infringements and of police involvement in allowing or assisting in such violations. Police treatment of the general public was often perceived to be unacceptably harsh and to be influenced by ethnic, class, or nationality-based discrimination. Since the police were generally viewed as instruments of the State, their activities served to undermine the popularity of the government. Based on issues discussed by the two Nigerian bodies who devised the new constitution and on newspaper coverage, it is concluded that human rights must be understood to include both economic and political rights. In the development model, both economic and political rights support each other. Survey results are presented in tabular form. Footnotes with references are included.
Index Term(s): Human rights violations; Minority recruitment; Nigeria; Police attitudes; Political influences; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Social change; Social cohesion
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