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Rights of the Citizen

Fundamental human rights are those privileges enjoyed by the citizens of a given state. They represent demands or claims which individuals or groups make on the society, some of which are protected by Law. When these basic entitlements are expressed within the framework of the constitution of a state, they become known as civil right. The most important of these rights recognised in various degrees in different countries are as follows:

(i) Right to Life:
The most fundamental of all rights, is the right to life, the foundation on which the superstructure of other rights can be built up. It is provided that everyone has the right to life except a person is condemned by a court of law.

(ii) Right to Human Dignity:
Every person is entitled to human dignity and therefore nobody should be subjected to torture, inhuman treatment, slavery or servitude or forced labour. However, this right has exception under certain conditions e.g. the provision does not apply if a person, having been tried of an offence, is imprisoned and such imprisonment involves forced labour.

(iii) Right to Personal Liberty:
Citizens are guaranteed the right to personal liberty which will make it possible for them not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention by the law enforcement agencies. Any person so detained has the right to be informed in writing of his offence within 24 hours.

(iv) Right to Fair Hearing:
Every citizen shall be entitled to fair hearing within a reasonable time in a court of law or tribunal which is independent and impartial.

(v) Right to Private Life:
The constitution guarantees and protects the privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic messages.

(vi) Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion:
Nigerian citizens are entitled to think freely and practice any religion of their choice without molestation.

(vii) Right to Freedom of Expression and the Press:
Nigerians are also entitled to speak their mind freely and own Newspapers or Magazines to express     themselves. However, seditious or defamatory publications should be avoided.

(viii) Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association:
There is also freedom of peaceful assembly and association. This includes the right to participate in any meeting and association with any Club, Cultural Union, Trade Union or any other organisation that has not been prohibited in the constitution such as Secret Societies.

(ix) Right to Freedom of Movement:
A citizen of Nigeria is free to move and settle anywhere in Nigeria. This privilege is not extended to a person who has committed, or is reasonably suspected to have committed an offence.

(x) Right to Freedom from Discrimination:
A bonafide citizen of Nigeria is not to be discriminated against on the basis of religious belief, sex or ethnic origin. Accordingly, no Nigerian is to be given preferential treatment because of religion or ethnic inclination.

(xi) Right to Acquire and Own Immovable Property anywhere in Nigeria:
All Nigerians by this provision are free to own property in any part of the country.

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