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CHAPTER SIX

Integrating Human Rights into Security and CounterTerrorism Undertakings A. House demolitions and evictions represent a violation of fundamental rights All Nigerian citizens, including the inhabitants of the volatile northern states, are entitled to the fundamental right to property, as guaranteed by Section 43 and 44 of the Nigerian Constitution. In addition, an array of national legislations such as the Land Use Act, and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights specifically protects all rights-holders against arbitrary seizure by state and non-state actors. For instance, point 61 of the African Commission decision82 on the right to adequate housing reasoned that: “…At a very minimum, the right to shelter obliges the Nigerian government not to destroy the housing of its citizens and not to obstruct efforts by individuals or communities to rebuild lost homes. The State’s obligation to respect housing rights requires it, and thereby all of its organs and agents, to abstain from carrying out, sponsoring or tolerating any practice, policy or legal measure violating the integrity of the individual or infringing upon his or her freedom to use those material or other resources available to them in a way they find most appropriate to satisfy individual, family, household or community housing needs. The right to shelter even goes further than a roof over ones head…” This decision established important legal precedents in the region as it affirmed that the displaced, evicted, and landless each have fundamental rights to shelter and adequate housing. This right to property is violated when the government or its security agents orders or carries out mass demolitions and forced evictions without adhering to the statutorily laid down procedures. Apart from property and housing rights, forced evictions and demolitions also violate the fundamental right to life, dignity, and health, as expressed in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ratified into Nigerian law. B. Requiring a court order prior to mass demolitions and evictions is the only way to safeguard the fundamental rights of affected community members In cases where mass forced eviction and demolition becomes inevitable, or are required to be carried out within the limits of proportionality and necessity, the only way to ensure that the rights of landlords and tenants are protected, as guaranteed by Section 43 and 44 of the Constitution, the Land Use Act, and the African Charter is to require a court order prior to the demolition or eviction. An after-the-act appeal to the court is inadequate because in such a case the fundamental rights have already been irreversibly violated. Thus, the only way to ensure the right to a fair trial and the protection of property and other fundamental rights is to require a court order before the mass evictions or demolitions. Beyond the strict constitutional requirements, it is the duty of the court to fully protect the right to fair hearing and fully investigate any breach of rights or links with terrorist activities. The right to a fair trial is to be preserved regardless of the ultimate guilt or innocence of the parties involved. Even where the security agents 82

SERAC Vs. Nigeria Case: Communication 156/01

DEMOLISHING FOUNDATIONS OF PEACE

SPACES FOR CHANGE

Profile for SPACES FOR CHANGE

DEMOLISHING FOUNDATIONS OF PEACE  

This report critically examines the effectiveness and human rights implications of using house demolitions to deter terrorism in Northern N...

DEMOLISHING FOUNDATIONS OF PEACE  

This report critically examines the effectiveness and human rights implications of using house demolitions to deter terrorism in Northern N...

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