Law  

International treaties and domestication challenge

Chris Giwa


The inability of Nigeria to domesticate important international protocols impedes the enjoyment of the rights such treaties impose on her citizens. A classical manifestation of the drawback is the current conflict in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), where Chris Giwa and Amaju Pinnick are contending for the leadership of the football federation in Nigerian courts.

Giwa is banking on the decision of Nigerian courts to lay claim to the position, but the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), does not recognise pronouncements of national courts of member states, except the court of arbitration for sports.

For Nigeria to avoid such crisis or FIFA ban, the laws need to be domesticated along with FIFA rules such that when disputes arise, the constitution has a section that addresses how parties may seek redress.

The argument is that NFF should have sponsored a bill domesticating FIFA laws guiding elections in Football Federations (FA) for the national assembly to look at and pass as a proper law.

Similarly, there are international treaties that mandate government’s on affirmative action but women are still kept at the background. The marginalisation against women has become burning issue in different part of the world, some think it is all propaganda blown out of proportion because of cultural or religious inclinations, but women remain economically and politically marginalised.  

The case of gender inequality in Nigeria is not different from the rest of the world. Nigerian politics is still largely a men’s affair. While women hold key cabinet positions in Abuja, their representation in the legislature and executive is negligible. The articulations of women-specific demands are low; women remain economically and politically marginalised.

This marginalisation is an infringement on the right of women. A right is defined as a power, privilege or immunity guaranteed under the constitution.Rights can be asserted, demanded or stood upon. The obligation they impose is expected to be performed and their non-performance occasions feelings of indignation, resentment and disappointment. Article 1 of the Declaration of Human Rights states that “all human beings are born free and equal.”

Also Article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979 and ratified by Nigeria in 1984, “encourages nations to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women with the view to eliminate inferiority and superiority of either sexes or stereotype roles of men and women.” To what extent has Nigerian government put this ratified convention into action in favour of women? Many believe women are getting more excluded as the protocol seems to be observed more in breach.

However, a Federal High Court judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba in his presentation at the International Federation of Women Lawyers annual law week said the need for financial inclusion of women to boost development and employment opportunities is becoming increasingly urgent.

No doubt, boosting women’s empowerment in the fast-changing world of work is as important as it is indispensable. This is because women constitute the most viable resource of a nation and remain important economic power-blocks waiting to be tapped in the quest for sustainable development.

According to him, women are endowed with limitless acumen and vast entrepreneurial skills that should be deployed to diversify and catalyst economic growth. Nigeria’s current economic landscape reveals that women own less capital and productive resources than men. He noted that women in Africa and more particularly Nigeria are active participants in nation building, albeit being victims of bad government policies, crisis and instability. 

The judge continued that from the home front all the way to governance, women have been seen to be outstanding in all endeavours. “The rural woman in Nigeria specifically, engages in all manner of hard labour to eke out a living for the entire family. Despite abuses by the men-folk and the excruciating pangs of poverty (women are most hit), they still stick to any laid down moral code, while attending to societal demands and courageously raising and implementing family budgets, no matter the amount involved,” he said. 

Lagos Chief Magistrate Kikelomo Ayeye said, in September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the “universal, integrated and transformative” 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. According to her, the new agenda also explicitly emphasizes the importance of women’s human rights for development. She noted: “the achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights.”

She further said it is absurd to hear that the National Assembly on March 2016 refused to pass the bill on women empowerment, which was before them after it had scaled through the second reading at the instance of religious beliefs.
 
According to her, the goals are to be implemented and achieved in every country from the year 2016 to 2030. She therefore advised that society must eliminate all the socio-cultural norms and values, which inhibit women empowerment. “Since women subjugation is a result of their position in the men socio-economic arrangement of the society. It is a non-negotiable truce that women must be made full partners with men in the developmental strides of society.

“Empowerment of women will enlighten women to their basic fundamental rights. Gender and domestic violence, which cut across all women age group is on the increase in the society. There are cases of rape, sexual harassment in working places, sexual abuse, and restriction of movement, physical harm, wife battery and deprivation of various rights against women in all societies.

“Empowering women will ensure family stability, peace and growth which translate to economic growth and sustainable national development. Women empowerment transcends women development and gender equality; it brings about peace, unity and sustainable development in the society. Empowerment of women will enlighten women to their basic fundamental rights,” she declared. Women that are empowered will be able to resists obnoxious cultural practices that dehumanize womanhood and ensure there is a redress to injustice done on the basis of sex. For example; the issue of female genital mutilation (otherwise known as women circumcision); early marriage, widowhood practice and purdarization of women in the name of religion must be eliminated from the society.

Ayeye suggested further that making the lofty fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy contained in chapter 2 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, CFRN justiciable. S. 15 (2) (3) (b) will enhance the Right to opportunity and resources-slide for women; it will franchise women at her place of residence.She also called for the immediate repeal of the Matrimonial Causes Act, LFN, 2004. “It is the oldest legislature which has worked great injustice to the economic, social and mental wellbeing/ interest of women. It must also be repealed in the best interest of the children/family,” she said.

She therefore charged women across the globe “to rise up in support of Nigerian women to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari from assenting to the bill that allows for a girl child of 11 years old to be given out in marriage.” According to her, it makes a mockery of the provisions of Child Right Act 2003. The act, Ayeye said is inhuman and a mockery of the sensibility of the humanness and an instrument to show that women are just there to please the sexual pleasure of men irrespective of the socio-psychological and health implications of such laws on the girl child.

“Government must ensure that this kind of barbaric and animistic law must not stand in this 21st Century. We advocate rather that this kind of practice should be criminalised to protect future generations of womanhood. “Gender parity begins with legislature on mandatory 50 per-cent women representation in politics at all levels. Political parties must sponsor equal number of men and women for public office.

“The Constitution of FRN must be amended to define Right of women to have and to determine choices relating to their procreative health,” she suggested. It is on record that Nigeria has never had a female president from independence till date. As regards the National Assembly, out of the 109 seats in the Senate, women only got three in 1999, four in 2003, nine in 2007, seven in 2011 and seven in 2015 elections according to Saada Baba Mohammed. 

She revealed that out of 360 seats in the House of Representatives, women had 12 in 1999, 23 in 2003, 27 in 2007, 26 in 2011, and 20 in 2015 elections. No female has won a gubernatorial election in Nigeria since independence.However, in 1999, there was one female out of 36 Deputy Governors. This increased to two in 2003 and six in 2007. The number declined to three in 2007, but increased to six in 2015 elections. 

Also, the Deputy Director of Law Breed publication of Supreme Court judgments, Mrs. Adejoke Layi-Babatunde encouraged women to emulate Funmilayo Ramsome Kuti and others.Mrs Titilayo Okanlawon (SAN) called for implementation of child Right Law. She decried the use of girl child for prostitution and therefore called for more advocacy of child right law in other state in the country.

She said: “The gender apartheid places the girl child in a disadvantaged position where her potentials are suppressed and self actualization is not achieved.  She therefore becomes a victim of a pre-existing socio-cultural male chauvinism.

“The love of money and poverty forces parents to induce their girl-child to Prostitution. The roads of Italy and other European Countries are lined with girls from this country soliciting and selling their bodies for the elusive dollars at the instance of their parents.“Section 30 Child Rights Act 2003 prohibits dealing in children for the purpose of prostitution and Sections 28 and 29 Child Rights Act 2003 prohibit child labour.”

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