Is protest a fundamental human right?

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The groundwork of constitutional government in a given nation is seen in the adherence of administrative law. Have you ever ask the question “is protest a fundamental human right”? Let’s find out.

Hence, the debate on the importance of the protection of the fundamental human rights of citizens in a given country is of utmost importance.

The fact that one is a Nigerian and resides in Nigeria, one is entitled to the tenets of the fundamental human rights as a human being. These fundamental human rights are not meant only for Nigerians alone but for other people living in Nigeria. There are different rights rooted in fundamental human rights, and one of them is the right to protest.

The right to organise a peaceful protest, support a protect and to protect is recognised as a fundamental human right in Nigeria. It is the right of every citizen of Nigeria to protest, and the government does not have the right to prevent people from participating in peaceful protest.

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What is a human right?

Human rights are fundamental rights and liberty that belong to every human being in the world, from their time of birth until their time of death. These rights are essential to all humans In earth, irrespective of race, nationality, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, language and so on.

Fundamental human rights comprise of the right to work, right to life and liberty, freedom from torture and slavery, freedom of expression and opinion, the right to education and so on.

These basic human rights were established on common principles such as fairness, equality, dignity, independence and respect for one another.  These values are stated and protected by law.

These rights can only be taken away from a person if he or she commits a crime or is a treat to national security.

Fundamental Human Rights in Nigeria

Nigeria was part of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 21 secures the right of peaceful assembly (protest) provided that:

The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognised. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others’

It is crucial to point out that not all rights are a fundamental human right in Nigeria. For instance, the right to but down the tariffs on electricity, data and cable subscription, is a right, but not a fundamental human right.

Right to Food, Education, Right to Housing are all human rights, but they are not included as fundamental human rights in the written laws of Nigeria. Nevertheless, they can now be regarded as fundamental human rights in Nigeria since the day Nigeria became a party to the  African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

Fundamental human rights vary from nation to nation. It can be determined by the written law of a nation and the international agreements signed by a country. Anything can be regarded as a human right. Human rights can be recognised once it is fully established in the constitution of the nation.

Therefore the right to good roads can be acknowledged as a fundamental human right and enclosed in the written law of Nigeria by the Federal Legislative arm of government in Nigeria.

Does this make the right to peaceful protest a fundamental human right? yes!

Types of Fundamental Human Rights In Nigeria:

The fundamental human rights in Nigeria are not many. Certain fundamental human rights in Nigeria can be found in the written law of Nigeria, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

The fundamental human rights  included in the written law of Nigeria are:

 1. Right to Life

 2. Right to Dignity of Human Person

 3. Right to Personal Liberty

 4. Right to Fair Hearing,

 5. Right to Private and Family Life

 6. Right to Freedom of Thought

 7. Right to Conscience and Religion

 8. Right to Freedom of Expression and the Press

 9. Rights to Peaceful Assembly and Association (Protest)

10. Right to Freedom of Movement

11. Right to Freedom from Discrimination and then

12. Right to Acquire and Own Immovable Property anywhere in Nigeria.

The above fundamental human rights should not be disregarded by the government, law enforcement personnel, or bodies in Nigeria. Hence, when any arm of government violates these fundamental human rights, there will be sanctions and compensation for it.

What is a protest?

Simply put, protest can be seen as the public declaration objection, criticism, disagreement for a political action Protest can be in different forms. Protests range from mass demonstration to individual statements. Examples of protests are the EndSARs protest in Nigeria and Blacklivesmatter that took place in different parts of the world. Protest can be in the form of a written, verbal, social media and so on.

The written law (constitution) of Nigeria and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, states that people in any part of Nigeria have the fundamental human right to protest concerning any issue at any given point in time.

The need for accountability makes peaceful protest a fundamental human right. A protest can be organized physically with people in active participation and privately via social media.  The nature of the physical protest comprises physical meetings and gatherings, walks and rallies, expression of ideas by those involved, songs, and chantings. Different fundamental human rights guide these various activities during the protest.

The interplay between nearly all the fundamental human rights constitutes the Right to Protest. Organising a protest, call to action, the protest itself and post protest activities are all protected by the fundamental human rights.

A mixture of different fundamental human rights sums up the Right to Protest. They are all protected by the fundamental human rights in Nigeria. This also makes organizing a peaceful protest a fundamental human right


It is important to note here that the ability to protect(peaceful gathering) is a fundamental human right of every citizen in a democratic constitutional government. The power to stop a peaceful protest, arrest protesters and organizers of demonstrations by the government of the day is not constitutional. Thus, the government can be sued in regard to the violation of these rights and the ill-treatment of the protesters.

The need for trust, truth, and a better life makes protest a fundamental human right.

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