All forms of forced labour imposed are prohibited but there are exceptions. Any compulsory labour may be permitted under the following circumstances:

  1. If any labour is required as a punishment of the sentence of a court, one cannot plead right against forced labour
  2. Any labour expected of members of the Nigerian armed forces or the Nigerian Police Force in pursuance of their duties cannot be categorizes as force labour
  • If a person has conscientious objection to service in the armed forces, a person must serve in other labour required in that circumstance

The constitution and the Criminal Code make it a crime to unlawfully imprison, or take a person out of Nigeria without his/her consent;

The law prohibits any act or omission that will prevent a person from applying to the court for his release, or from being discovered by any other person; or prevent a person who ought to have access to him/her from discovering the place of imprisonment[1].

Moreover, intimidating a person, making and compelling him to do an unlawful act or preventing him to do an act he is lawfully entitled to is a crime[2]. A good example is threat of an injury to a person, reputation or through persistent following, besetting or watching the person, his place of abode or work.’

Any type of slavery or servitude, or compulsion to act in a particular way is prohibited.

[1] Section 364 0f Criminal Code

[2] Section 366 of Criminal Code

Right against torture, inhuman or degrading treatment covers this treatment in police custody and prison. It also covers all forms of such treatment whether by governments, its agencies, private agencies or individuals[1] .

The importance of ensuring the observance of this right also informed the making of the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It is illegal for a suspect who is still an innocent in the eyes of the law to be tortured or injured only to be found innocent after investigation or trial.

[1] Professor B. O. Nwabueze, The Presidential Constitution of Nigeria (Sweet & Maxwell). P 411.

  • Introduction

Article 1 of the universal declaration of human rights provides that “all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. This right prohibits any form of degrading treatment or inhuman treatment of another irrespective of tribe, sex, colour, religion or nationality. Some people derive pleasure in torturing another but learn today that it is unlawful. Some will even scream publicly that “meeeeehn! That guy don fuck up! I go chop him face. I go chuck him eyes”. These attackers are also fellows who detest being hurt or anyone hurting their relatives.

Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution provides:


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

(a) no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment;

(b) no person shall be held in slavery or servitude; and

© no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour


Since the word ‘accordingly’ is used in the section, it implies that sub sections (a), (b), and (c) above are examples of acts that violate right to the dignity of the human person and are not closed. The effect of the word is that acts that constitute degrading treatment or inhuman treatment transcend those listed acts.   

As court once stated;[1] “Any punishment or treatment in incompatible with the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society…. Is repulsive” and qualify as inhuman treatment. What might not be regarded as inhuman treatment years ago may now be the new sensitivities as a result of civilization. Our ‘friends’ who sell thongs like clothes along the road with the habit of always touching sensitive part of women who are passing around in the name of calling their attention to goods, beware as you might be unknowingly committing indecent assault which is a criminal offence.

[1] Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe v Attorney General S.C 73/93 14 Hum. Rights L.J 323 (1993)