RIGHT TO DIGNITY OF HUMAN PERSON

Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) provides for the right to dignity of human person. It provides as follows:

(1) Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly;­

A. No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment;

B. No person shall be held in slavery or servitude; and

C. No person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) (c) of this section, “forced or compulsory labour” does not include:

­A. Any labour required in consequence of the sentence or order of a court.

B. Any labour required of members of the armed forces of the Federation or the Nigeria Police Force in pursuance of their duties as such;

C. In the case of persons who have conscientious objections to service in the armed forces of the Federation, any labour required instead of such service;

D. Any labour required which is reasonably necessary in the event of any emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community; or

E. Any labour or service that forms part of:

i. Normal communal or other civic obligations for the well-being of the community,

ii. Such compulsory national service in the Armed Forces of the Federation as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly, or

iii. Such compulsory national- service which forms part of the education and training of citizens of Nigeria as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.

Notes:

Next to the right to life is the right to dignity of the human person. This section provides that every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person. No person will be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment. No person will be held in slavery or servitude. No person will be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

However, “forced or compulsory labour” does not include any labour required in consequence of the sentence or order of a court. It also does not include any labour required of members of the armed forces of the Federation (including the police) or persons who have a conscientious objection to service in the armed forces of the Federation. Neither does it include any labour required in an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community and which is reasonably necessary.

Likewise, any labour or service which forms part of normal communal, educational or other civic obligation for the well-being of the community is not to be regarded as forced or compulsory service. In this regard is the compulsory one-year national service for Nigerian graduates.

*Excerpts from the 1999 Constitution made simple.

Fatimah Usman-Aliyu
Pro-bono Partner
07036988982

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