Legal Implication of Armed Conflicts

Legal Implication of Armed Conflicts

However, whatever definition is accorded to armed conflict, one thing is certain and that is the flagrant violation of fundamental human rights as provided in most written constitutions of sovereign states. The activities of this armed conflict shall be considered against the background of the 1999 constitution of federal republic of Nigeria bringing to fore specific human rights that has been notoriously abused and infringed.

Chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria provides for fundamental rights. These rights are fundamental in that they are protected and provided for in the constitution. Section 46(1)[1] provides that “any person who alleges that any of the provision of this chapter has been is been or likely to be contravened in any state in relation to him may apply to the high court in that state for redress”.

Section 33(1)[2] provides for the right to life, thus “every person has the right to life and no person shall be deprived intentionally of his life save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria”.  This right to life has received judicial blessing in plethora of cases particularly in the case of Emmanuel Eze v State[3] where the court per Augie JSC stated that the only exception of denying one his right to life is in execution of the sentence of a court.

This right to life is one right that has been flagrantly abused by armed conflict activities. The activities or effect of this armed conflict have resulted in the displacement of more than half a million people and the death of uncountable innocent civilians including children and suckling. Those engaged in this armed conflict activities has constantly carried out extra-judicial killing without the consent of the court and this amount to the infringement of people’s right.

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The importance of right to life is constantly repeated and reaffirmed in many UN resolutions and the fourth Geneva Convention. The right is mentioned in the context of indiscriminate attacks affecting civilians, vulnerable groups (women, children, IDPs), as well as human rights defenders and humanitarian workers by emphasizing the fundamental value of the right to life and calling relevant parties to abide by their obligations in this respect.

The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights. Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life. It is on records that the Boko Haram fighters do not appreciate this provision (that is if they know the provision at all).

Section 34(1)[4] provides for right to dignity of human person thus “every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and accordingly”-

  1. No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment;
  2. No person shall be held in slavery or servitude

This is another right that has been abused by the activities of armed conflict. Innocent individuals have been subjected to all forms of torture, maiming and eventually death. The abduction of school children in Maiduguri and sexual rampage of the teenage girls abducted from their school is another show of this abuse. Most times this abducted persons are made slaves to this insurgent groups with the option of ransom or death. Often times these people post viral videos of how they maim unlucky fellows, bury them alive or stone them to death and all these are gruesome and sickening.

Section35. (1) Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law. In the case of Dukubo Asari V FRN [5] – The Court held that the above provisions of section 35 (1) of the constitution leave no one in doubt that the section is not absolute. The only legal ground the right of liberty can be denied or restricted is only the exceptions provided for in paragraph (a-f) and the activities of armed conflicts which denies people their right of liberty has no legal backbone.

Furthermore, it is worthy of note that section 38 and 39 of the constitution constitutes the bedrock of the sects’ agitation and acts of insurgency. This section 38(1)[6] provides “every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance”.

It is evident that members of this sect tend to forcefully impose the Islamic religion upon individuals and the state generally. It is vital to note that religious intolerance has unfortunately been a recurring decimal ushering in various states of Nigeria crisis, innumerable loss of property.

Section 39(1)[7] “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”. The Islamic sect alleges that western education is sinful and as such directs all its effort at its extinction. This religious attempt infringes upon the rights of affected individuals.

Section 41 of 1999 Constitution of Nigeria(1) Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit there from.

However, the activities of this armed conflict have deprived and restricted persons from enjoying this right either in international or non-international armed conflicts. These activities of armed conflict have forcefully expelled citizens of Nigeria to other neigbouring countries because of insecurity and failure of government to protect these rights.


[1] 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria

[2] 1999 constitution of  Federal Republic of Nigeria

[3] (2018) LPELR-SC 487/2015, p.23, paras.A-E

[4] 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria

[5] (2007) ALL FWLR (PT.375) 558 @ 586-587

[6] 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria

[7] 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria

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