June 14, 2024

Sit at Home Order in South Eastern Region: An Infringement on the Constitutional Rights of the Masses

The South Eastern Region of Nigeria has since the arrest and detention of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) faced flagrant violation of the constitutional rights of free movement of the citizens as Mondays in this region has always been observed as non-working days otherwise known as Sit at home.

Meanwhile, this sit home is based on the order which was issued by the progenitors of the IPOB and since the issuance of this order, the flame up fire which the progenitors ignite has not only burnt the thrash but has also grounded the economy of the people of  this region as every Monday has been observed as a sit at home, wherein the masses will spend their whole day at home doing less to nothing. 

Since the issuance of this order from the 9th of August till date, it has roughly dealt with the masses, as most of the occupants of this region live from hand to mouth and the hands have now being soured with the grape of an order of sit at home.  

However, the purpose of this piece is to historically record it that this sit at home order is not only against nature but has also flagrantly dealt with the constitutional rights of the people of this region. 

The order of sit at home commands against going out on this specially designated days; every Mondays and other days as the originators of this order may decide. Therefore restraining the freedom of movement of the masses and, in the other vein, violating the constitutional right of freedom of movement. While the act of enforcing this order also violates other constitutional rights of the people; to wit: Right to Life and Right to Dignity of Human Persons

To glaringly delve into the thrust of discourse, man is born with some inalienable rights which are embedded in him as a person and those rights grow with the man and also die with the man. The sole reason that a person is living entitles him to such right and it’s not meant to be taken away from him except in some lawfully provided exceptions which the law supports. 

Meanwhile, these rights are grouped into two, to wit: 

Fundamental Rights and Human Rights. 

Fundamental rights are those basic rights of man which a state has legally recognized in its domestic law and which it has also made enforceable at its breach. In a light tune, it is a fundamental right because it’s recognized by the fundamental law of the land and the same law usually makes it enforceable.  Accordingly, all fundamental rights are human rights but not all humans are fundamental rights. In other words, Fundamental rights are always included in lex lata (written law), but not all human rights are included in the written laws of the land and in most cases when human rights are included in the grundnorm of the land, they are usually dumped down like toothless bulldog.

We take umbrage to the above notion from the case of Ransom Kuti v. Attorney General of Federation,  where Oputa J.S.C (Blessed Memory) lucidly held that “Fundamental rights are always included in the constitution and are always justifiable, on the other hand, Human Rights are not always part of the Constitution ”To further lay emphasis on the meaning of fundamental rights, it will be instructive we revert to the decision of the court In the case of Uzoukwu & Ors v. Ezeonu II & Ors,  where the Appeal Court held that:

Due to the development of constitutional law in the field, distinct difference has emerged between ‘Fundamental Rights and Human Rights.’ It may be recalled that human rights were derived from and out of the wider concept of natural rights. They are rights which every civilized society must accept as belonging to each person as a human being. These were termed human rights. When the United Nations made its declaration it was in respect of ‘Human Rights’ as it was envisaged that certain rights belong to all human being irrespective of citizenship, race, religion and so on. This has now formed part of international Law. Fundamental Rights remains in the realm of domestic Law. They are fundamental because they have been guaranteed by the fundamental law of the country, that is by the constitution. 

In summary, fundamental rights are fundamental because they are usually contained in the fundamental laws of the land and they usually have legal remedies at their breach.  More so, they are parts of human rights but are more special than other human rights, as they are usually made justiciable by the laws of the land.

The pertinent question will be: is the sit at home order against the fundamental rights of the masses? To this, we shall humbly answer in the affirmative, as the major agenda of the sit at home order is to restrict the free movement of the people in this region thereby crumbling their sources of livelihood as most of the residents of this region are all business men and women whose livelihood depends on their businesses. 

Since the issuance of this order from the 9th day of August till date, every Mondays have always turned various cities at this region to ghost town not minding the new circulation of a new order by the progenitors of IPOB that they have revoked this order of sit at home.

The masses are still in fear and some hoodlums have also grabbed this opportunity to perpetrate crimes and odium. The truth remains that the sit at home order is a clear violation of the constitutional rights of the masses and so the masses should not welcome and hospitalize any man who violates their rights. 

It will be instructive that the abovementioned section should be provided in part. Section 41 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides:

Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part of thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom. (Underlines for emphasis).

Here the constitutional rights of the people are violated against their will and the proponents of this order will constantly sing that its for the general interest of all. 

I doubt the best way of relieving a child from pain is by issuing more pains to him, we are suffering in Nigeria, and they are now aggravating it by this order and are still waving it out that they are helping the poor masses who are dying in silence.

In my own opinion, whether there is the order of sit at home or not, what will be, will be (in Latin Que Sera Sera), so let’s stop killing ourselves or orchestrating pains on one another in the name of enforcing sit at home order, as the belief of a core Biafran remains that the sun shall surely rise from the east one day. 

I recommend we should stand to watch the back of our brothers and not to assist death by pushing the masses to early grave by the order which always keep them at home doing nothing. The Government of the day is not really keeping face as if they care or they will ever care. So, the best we can do is to stop violating this fundamental right of man moving freely around the country. Since the inception of the order its purpose of making the government to release the leader of IPOB has really not been achieved. 

In conclusion, it has rightly been recorded that this order has for long be revoked, but some hoodlums have adopted it to perpetrate evil and crimes, to which end, we lucidly advise the government of the day and the progenitors of the IPOB to organize a medium or platform wherein the masses will be educated and enlighten that they should continue with their daily activities as their lives will keenly be secure at all particular time. 

The masses stay at home because of fear, and we believed they can start going out if that word lands down that their lives are now safe and in action they started seeing clearly that the Government meant what they say. 

Let’s stop killing one another and let’s stop wasting our limited days as such will not take us out from the land of Egypt instead it will nail us down to the graves of our enemies. 

This Article is written by Omoha Otuosorochi Junior, a final year law student in Ebonyi state University, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.

An associate @ St. Sen solicitors of No. 8, Old Enugu Road, Kpirikpiri, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.

For your contributions, questions and objective criticism, Whatsapp: 08135414889, Email: omohaotuosorochi1@gmail.com

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