I know most of us were taught our Fundamental Human Rights at jss2 in our social studies class. However, I’m sure it’s been a long time since then so let’s refresh your memory.By section 33 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(as amended).
- 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.
- A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section, if he dies as a result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably necessary-
- For the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for the defence of property
- In order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or
- For the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.
This means that our right to life as provided under the constitution is qualified and not absolute. This means, as much as we are guaranteed the right to life, it also permits the deprivation of life on certain grounds. For instance, when a person has been tried by a competent court of law, convicted and sentenced to death by same, his right to life will be taken from him in order to fulfill the sentence as punishment for his crime. This could occur in armed robbery cases, murder cases e.t.c. Also, where a person dies as a result of the use of reasonably necessary force to such extent and in such circumstances as is permitted by law in one’s personal defence from unlawful violence or for the defence of property, the death is justifiable and does not violate his right to life. For instance, if you are assaulted unjustly and retaliate in defence, which results to the death of the assailant, provided such defence is reasonable & not out of proportion as compared to that of the assailant or it’s potential consequences, such death will not be classified as a violation of the assailants right to life. This also applies when the military or para military tries to restore peace to a society where there is a riot. Also, in prevention of a person that has been lawfully detained. For instance, jail breakers; in a means to recapture them, if the felon is killed in the process of pursuit, such death will not be deemed as a violation of his right to life.
For more information, see the following cases;
- Amoshima v. State(2011)All federation weekly report (part. 597)601
- Maiyaki v. State(2008)Nigerian weekly law report (part. 1075)429
Hope, this comes in handy for you.