sight that is so common among Nigerians is that of not knowing what their
rights are. The idea of “fundamental rights” has been so romanticized by the
populace that it is common to hear citizens vaguely bring almost any matter
under it. Therefore it is possible to hear a person who has been denied their
salary or is facing an eviction say that “their fundamental right has been or
is being breached.”

to lack of sensitization, people are unable to distinguish between a
fundamental right, as provided for in Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)
, and other rights that are
safeguarded by the law and contracts. They do not categorize rights the way it
is done in the legal sector. Most times the general perception is one of
recognizing that there is a problem that needs sorting out.

this shows is that Nigerians are not adequately sensitized about what the law
is and how it affects them. Some do not seem to appreciate the importance of
contractual terms and conditions stated in letters addressed to them. They do
not see the importance of seeking clarification on terms they do not understand
before signing documents until it is too late.

are not aware of the existence of institutions that can help them. In addition
to this, their distrust in the efficiency of institutions such as the police
force is preventing them from getting the help they need. With this, the
unfortunate cycle of injustice continues everyday.

there are some people who are aware that their rights are being breached or are
about to be breached, they do not know the correct institution to go to in
order to have their issues addressed.

example, in Lagos State there exists the Domestic
and Sexual Violence Response Team
established with the aim of
eradicating sexual and gender-based violence. It is common for domestic
violence victims to run to a human rights organization first instead of
immediately reporting the matter to the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response

domestic violence may lead to a violation of one’s fundamental right to life
and right to dignity of human person as provided for in Sections 33 and 34
of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)

respectively, an organization such as the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response
Team would be better able to handle such matters effectively.

rights groups have sprung up to address the problems of the masses and render
assistance to them whenever they can. However, what the people do not realize
is that some of their problems could be easily addressed by filing a complaint
at the nearest police station without having to tolerate the injustice done to

question then is, who is responsible for sensitizing the people? Sensitization
campaigns are not the responsibility of only a few. It is the responsibility of
all stakeholders who are dedicated to seeing that justice is done, such as
lawyers and rights groups. This is because they are in a position that enables
them to know about the law and explain it using simple terms.

that we have been able to establish who bears the responsibility of sensitizing
the masses about their rights, the next question is how best could we carry out
sensitization campaigns? A good way of tackling this would be to follow the
practices of copywriters in the marketing sector.

simple terms, a copywriter writes advertisements that encourage people to take
a particular action such as purchasing an item or signing up to a course.
Before a copywriter writes an advert, they take time to analyze their target
audience to determine where they can be found, their habits, interests and common
problems or “pain points”. They know what medium their audience reacts to best.
Taking this medium into consideration, they craft relatable words that capture
the attention of their audience and achieve their primary aim of selling.

similar technique can also be employed in the legal sector to facilitate an
effective sensitization campaign by bringing the law to the masses using media
that they can easily relate with. 

a sensitization campaign to be effective, it has to take into consideration the
people it is meant for. The campaign has to be able to convey information using
a medium and language that can be easily consumed. This could take the form of
social media posts and pictures that portray the main point.

example of this can be seen in how Venezuela Inteligente, a digital rights
organization, used
social media to promote participation in legislative elections
. Mass
BlackBerry Messenger messages were sent out to encourage the youth to
participate in legislative elections.

sensitization campaigns are properly conducted, more people would know that
they can seek help to address their problems and hence would be better equipped
to fight for their rights.


Practitioner at the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR)