Sat. Oct 19th, 2019



If you live or reside within Nigeria, it is important that you know your fundamental rights as guaranteed in the Constitution. The Constitution is known as the grundnorm, that is, the foundation of every law. Anything that contradicts the constitution is invalid. Therefore, when a right is provided for in the constitution, no other law can negate it.


Fundamental rights as provided in the 1999 Constitution are as follows;


Right to life (Section 33)

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


Right to dignity of human person (Section 34)

Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and accordingly

  • No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment
  • No person shall be held in slavery or servitude and
  • No person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour


Right to personal liberty (Section 35)

Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty


Right to fair hearing (Section 36)

In the determination of civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality


Right to private and family life (Section 37)

The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communication is guaranteed and protected


Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion(Section 38)

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


Right to freedom of expression and the press(Section 39)

Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference


Right to peaceful assembly and association(Section 40)

Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he/she may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests


Right to freedom of movement(Section 41)

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 thereto or exit therefrom


Right to freedom from discrimination(Section 42)

A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person –

  • be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions are not made subject or
  • be accorded either expressly by or in the practical application of any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions


Right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria (Section 43)

Subject to the provisions of this constitution, every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria


Compulsory Acquisition of Property (Section 44)

No moveable property or any interest in an immovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of Nigeria except in the manner and for the purposes prescribed by a law that, among other things

  • Requires the prompt payment of compensate on therefore and
  • Gives to any person claiming such compensation a right of access for the determination of his interest in the property and the amount of compensation to a court of law or tribunal or body having jurisdiction in that part of Nigeria


Feel free to enjoy all your rights above and ensure you defend them when the need arises. A nation progresses very rapidly when people know and defend their rights especially the ones above. However, bear in mind that for every law, there is always an exception.


Managing Partner at Horizon Expanse Solicitors and Advocates, Lagos

Follow me on twitter @folay09.

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