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Friday, 13 April 2018


This paper presents us critical analysis of the cultural practices that violate   certain human right according to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN 1999)   as being amended in 2011.
Equally this paper shall expose the source of Nigerian Law and so, only three will be elaborated. It is also worthy of note to take into our knowledge what human rights  are, the meaning of law, the origin of Nigeria law,  the function of law and the meaning of cultural practices. Furthermore, there is a problem that we shall tackle in this presentation which we may say it has been partially being solved by the source of Nigeria Constitution. The problem is that if we consider the law or constitution we cannot totally remove culture from the law. It is only because we have diverse languages and culture in Nigeria that is why we may able to separate law from culture.

Furthermore, in this essay we shall precisely, limit s ourselves to explain and expose the cultural practices in Nigeria that strongly violate the human right according to Nigeria law (CFRN, 2011). Chapter IV of the constitution lists fundamental rights as: right  to life, right to human dignity, right to personal liberty, right to fair hearing, right to private and family life, right to freedom of thought conscience and religion, right to expression and the press, right to peaceful  assembly and association, right to freedom of movement,  right to freedom discriminations, right to acquire and own immovable property  anywhere in Nigeria, compulsory acquisition of property, restriction on and derogation from fundamental rights and special jurisdiction of High Court and legal aid.
More so, before   extract certain cultural practices that go against all the rights mentioned above we shall clarify in this discussion. We shall clarify some fundamental concepts that are relevant in this discussion. We shall delve into this task and for the sake of clarity we shall follow this methodology in presenting our point as we define the followings:

The meaning of law
The meaning of human rights
The sources of Nigeria law
Functions of law
Cultural   practices

According to J. Maurus, quoting William Pitt, says where the law ends, tyranny begins. The precept of the law is to live honourably, to injure no other man or woman, render to everyone his due. Of course, there can be no dispensation from natural law, except perhaps in the Case of two evils, when it is necessary to choose one or the other.
According to T.O. Ilias in his book, “The Nature of African Customary Law” page 35, the law of a given community is the body of rules which are recognised as obligatory by its members.
According to Thomas Hobbes, “a law is a precept or general rule, find out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do which is destructive to life.
From the Christian point of view, Pope  Leo  XIII says   “the  external law of God is the sole standard and  rule of  human liberty not  only in each civil  society  which men  constitute when united. Law is the measurement that judge human action

Human rights are natural rights. In other words, the ability to recognize these rights is impressed in every human heart. Thus, human rights are natural facts, comparable to natural laws. And like natural law, human rights pop up when evil people try to suppress it. In fact, human rights are linkened to the voice of conscience residing in each heart. It blames and convicts the heart whenever it violates the rights of any man or woman, even at that, in all ages, men and women, nations and   societies, have suggested in recognize in the inherent rights of other human beings.
Human rights are the rights a person has simply because he /she are a human being. Human rights refer to the "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. Examples of rights and freedoms which have come to be commonly thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

it is important at this point to be note an extent, unjust, primitive societies, upheld the rights of human person.
UNO defines rights as rights which are inherent in our nature.  It does not deal with race, ethnic, religion, language, colour sex, and so on. Without these rights, we cannot live as human beings.  It must be respected, promoted, defended and cherished. Human rights are divided into two: “Fundamental and Lessser rights.  Fundamental right has to do with life. While Lesser rights are bound with circumstances, place and practical.

The major purpose of law and of course Nigerian Constitution (CFRN) is to protect, respect, defend and cherish human rights. Law restricts people to trample on the rights of other people. Law does create an affair for natural justice. This is because human right is inalienable, indivisible and inter-dependent.

 The Nigeria constitution includes: The Nigerian Legislation, The Constitution, Juridical precedents, Customary Laws and The Received English Law. As we have been require in this discussion we on explain three of these of constitution.

 Cited as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (CFRN). According to O. Hood Phillips and Paul Jackson in their book “Constitution and Administrative Law”, sixth edition Sweet and Maxwell 1978 page 5, “Constitution is the system of laws, customs and conventions which defines the composition and powers of organs of the state, and regulates the relations of the various state organs to one another and to the private citizens.” Constitution may also be called documents containing the substance of the law.

Features of the Nigerian Constitution as sources of the law
It is written – this means that both the past and the present Nigerian Constitutions are both written. The British has no written constitution. Their constitution which is unwritten is bound by customs and convention adapted to over time.
It is supreme – It has binding force on all authorities and persons in Nigeria. It is the ground norm
It is enacted so that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall only be governed in accordance to the provisions of the constitution

No other law should be inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution. If any other law is inconsistent, the constitution shall prevail and the other law shall be void to the extent of the inconsistency
The Constitution is superior to other laws of the land and regulates the juridical, executive and legislative arm of the government.
Juridical precedents
Another source of Nigerian Law is the juridical precedent also known as Principle of Stare decisis (Earlier decision must be followed)
This is the principle that earlier decisions of superior courts or court of competent jurisdiction should be biding authorities in subsequent cases. But before the issue must be binding, it must be ratio decidenti and not obiter dicta

Another source of Nigerian Law is the customary laws.
Note: before customary law will be considered as forming a source of Nigerian law, it must pass three tests, namely:
It must not be incompatible either directly or by implication with any law for the time-being in force of any written law.

It must pass the repugnancy test. This means that it must not be repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience – human sacrifice, enslavement, killing of twince, right to personal liberty. Example of cases – Edet versus Essien (1932) 11 NLR47. Maryana versus Sadiku Ejo (1961) NRNLR 81
What Are the Cultural Practices?
Culture applies to mankind which starts the particular way of man’s life. It is universally shared. It establishes pattern of behavior of everybody. It is a collective and comprehensive of human’s life. Culture distinguishes one society from another. Culture is in of two types: material and non-material culture. Material culture includes tangible things while nom-material culture includes non-physical or abstract human creation, which is only descernable from human mind.
However, in our discussion we shall most concern with non-material aspect of culture. It is this non-material aspect of culture that the cultural practices that violate Nigeria law (CFRN 1999) are. Cultural practices may be defined as the traditional practices that have grown out of a people’s way of life. Cultural practices emerge from a people’s culture.
It has been reported time without numbered that some of these cultural practices are good and some are bad equally. Because they violate rights of human persons and  so, diminishes human dignity as such Nigeria law (CFRN).
At this juncture, we shall expose some of these cultural practices in relation to the laws that they violate in Nigeria Laws (CFRN).


The dignity of human person is manifested in all its radiance when the person’s origin and dignity are considered. If you will agree with me human being is more than collection of atoms, fundamental human rights should make sense to us, simply because person (male and female) would have significance. Women have totally neglected and undervalued in the society, in religion, in politics and so on. It is often seen in some community that they are evils, there is not they do well, through this, they have suffered a lot. The human individual (male and female) as far from an object and as it were a mere passive element in the social order, is in fact, must be and must continue to be, its subject, its foundation and its end. This has changed nowadays.

The human ritual   was highly common in most cultures in Nigeria in the period before this civilization. This might have occurred out of the ignorance of the people then. But this cultural practice has died down in total elimination in this age. For example, there is an idol in Igbo land which called Ogbanje. This idol is worshipped with human sacrifice. It is also heard in Yoruba history that some cash crop farmers used people albino, horned person   to make sacrifice in expectation of high harvest of cocoa and especially the one of albino produce a lot and good of yellow kolanut. This act violate right to life in the Nigeria law (CFRN), as it is appeared in chapter five (Fundamental Rights), Constitution 33 (1) says that “Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.”
Opo  Sisu marital Practice in Yoruba and Nkushi in Igbo cultures
This is a practice common in Yorubaland. It is practiced in aa situation whereby a brother of a diseased husband of a woman marries the woman. It is a crude practice and not in conformity with right of freedom. Strange as this practice might be   among the Igbo in this contemporary time, the Igbo marital practice  called Nkushi, where a man immediately takes as wife his late brother’s wife was meant to preserve the rights of the children to a decent home made up of a father and mother.
Force to Member of a Religion
This practice is common among the Yoruba especially in a family where they have one idol other that they worship. For example, a person who comes from the family of Sango (god of thunder) may be forced or compelled or threatened to worship Sango. Some even forced to be deity of these idols. This violates human right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Section 38 of (CFRN) says, nobody should be forced to join any religion because of emphasized freedom,

The disables with high deformity or the people whose their sickness is contagious are cast out of humanity without any special arrangement. Leprosy is an epidemic disease. People of this kind are rejected without special care. It surely violates Nigeria Constitution of human dignity.
Swearing By Drinking Of Charm
This is done mostly in many types, culture language in Nigeria. This means that, people are given some charm to drinking or   eat to find solution to an accusation raised a person especially when some is lost.
After the charm might have been drunk the native doctor goes back secretly to manipulate    something.

This is a cultural practical in Yoruba land violates the right to human life. This practice is done in the ancient period of Yoruba culture. The practice means that when a king reigns a person is chosen from that day of enthronement to be abaobaku that the person will die with the king when the king dies. This person will be buried alive with the king. Though this is done in the olden day and primitive, but still, it violates right to life. This is because everybody is entitling to his or her life.

This is not done or practiced in its pure form. It is heard several times that people die and later by some days, hours and minutes come back to life. What happened within that period to a person no one can explain better? Even doctor might have proclaim one dead but later come back to life. Bases on the ignorance and crude mentality of the people or culture they see it as abomination and shame to their family by this they do what we may call mercy for them so, that they will not spoil the name of the family. For the fact that this people come back to life and kill by people is counted as killing, therefore, it violates right to life.

It is true that culture is relative. It is dehumanization to human being to be treated as any other property. It is reported of culture in Nigerian that human are used for welcoming and entertainment of visitors. This kind of cultural practice violates human dignity in section 34 of (CFRN) :   every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his or her person. Sub- section (1) says, no person shall require to perform or compulsory labour.

According to section 43 of (CFRN) says that, subject to the provision of this constitution, every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable poverty anywhere in Nigeria. In the Eastern world of Nigeria it is not easy to acquire personal land there which is contrary to the law.

Religion is part of culture. Religion grows out of a culture. Man is the creation of religion. Religion does not exist before law of nature. It is law of nature that first of all protects human rights to life and dignity. Some acts of religion go out of content. For example in Nigeria, Boko-Haram goes against the constitution because of religion. It equally violates human right to life.
Oro festival in Yorubaland
This is a traditional festival among the Yoruba. During the period that this festival is celebrated female must not come out of their houses or move around. If they dare, death punishment is attached to it. In Ibadan City there is a masquerade called Olowu which they celebrating it no female must come out. We have many cases whereby many people have died because of  these practices. This also violates two rights: rights to movement and life. Whereas the constitution says every citizen is entitled to movement. (sec 41, sub-sec.1 of CFRN).

Having exposed the cultural practice in Nigeria and their relation to the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Fundamental Rights (Enforcement procedure Rules 2009) with 2011 amendments we have come to realise that, there are some of cultural practices that against right and dignity of human being.
We have taken cultural practices in Yoruba culture and Igbo culture to x-ray some of these practices that contra vein human rights.
In conclusion however, I want to agree that as human of a culture without bias that these practices are wrong and they go against human and dignity.  And so, they must be eliminated and of course some are abandoned already. For example, there is human sacrifice again in the name of an idol. And OPo sisu and Nkushi in Igbo culture has died.

1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rule 2009 with 2011 Amendments.

J. Maurus, something to Think of : A Collection of Quotations From the Ideas to the Present Day, (Mumbai:  St. Paul Press, 1989).

Laurence Benhrens  and Leonard J.R. Theme  and Variations:   The Impacts of  Great Ideas, (USA: Scott  Foresmen  and Company, 1988 ).

John Locke, The Two Treatises of Government. Edited by Thomas I.  Cook, (New York: Hafner publishing Company, 1969).

Henry Omeike, “The church and the Right oof the Family”, Nacaths Journal of African Theology Vol14. (April, 2004).
                                    By: 'Bisi-Oluwole
                                May, 2013

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