Wednesday, August 10, 2016
According to the Albino Foundation an estimated number of over two million persons are affected with the condition of albinism in Nigeria. Albinism is a defect of melanin in the skin, eyes and hair. Ignorance of this genetic condition has unfortunately put a lot of individuals at risk resulting in ill treatment and death of affected persons. Individuals nurse wrong beliefs as to the significance of this health condition and rather shelve their ignorance with barbaric notions such as the possibility of using their body parts for rituals, and beliefs that such affected persons are evil and have no cause for existence. Those who have escaped these barbaric practices and sentiments are caught up in the web of discrimination and psychological trauma. Albino’s are a fine shade of black as well and should be given equal opportunities in the society, shown more love than they get around the world. The first step towards putting an end to discrimination of albinos is the affected individual to believe he is a fine shade of black, while organizations individuals raise more awareness that a pigmentation defect has no nexus with spirituality, families of affected individuals should also be more supportive and careful as to the management of the condition such as avoidance of sun rays and adequate provision of sunscreens by the government for persons affected while efficiently ensuring practical steps towards an unbiased treatment in any sphere of the society. This article speaks for the relatively unheard voice of a section of the society that has been meted with a great deal of ill treatment and discrimination. This discrimination is not as a result of any social or moral wrong done by them, but the glaring fact of being born with a lighter pigmentation. As a result of this, they are being treated with so much disdain by ignorant individuals. It is important to note that the foundations of great societies are built on the principles of equality and respect for the dignity of the human person. Without theses core values any society will fall into barbarism and chaos. In Nigeria, the constitutional provisions of chapter IV, precisely sections 34 and 42 protects citizens from any form of discrimination for any reason what so ever. Section 34 of the constitution provides that every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and more so section 42 provides that “ 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, religious or political opinions are not made subject”. The combined reading of these sections clearly seeks to nip in the bud any form of discrimination against any sect of people for what so ever reason. The provisions of the law does not only seek to call out such acts as wrong and prohibited , but also provides a remedy in a situation where in such prohibited acts have already been carried out, or is likely to be carried out. Section 46 of the constitution provides thus” Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any State in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress”. It is sad that irrespective of these properly articulated provisions of The Constitution, fundamental human right abuse is on a steady rise and more particularly inhuman treatment being meted out to albinos is a daily occurrence. It is a fact that the dead letters of the law on their own are nothing more than words with no effect irrespective of how properly drafted they are or what good intentions they seek to achieve. The aspect of enforcement of the law is way more important than the making of law; an unenforced law is as good as the non existence of such law. In reading this, most of us will naturally push the burden of enforcement to the government. In as much as it is the duty of the Executive arm to enforce the law, in cases such as this relating to Fundamental Rights Enforcement, collective effort is most desirable. Section 46(3) of The Constitution empowers the Chief Justice of Nigeria to make rules with respect to practice and procedures of the high court for the purpose of enforcing the rights under discussion, in the exercise of the above mentioned power the purview of those who can apply for enforcement of fundamental human rights has been enlarged from allowing only those whose rights are being infringed upon to also allowing; 1. Anyone acting on behalf of another person 2. Anyone acting as a member of a class, or in the interest of a class of persons. 3. Anyone acting in the public interest; and 4. Association acting in the interest of its members or other individuals or groups With this wide range of people allowed to fight for the protection and enforcement of the fundamental rights of others whose rights are being infringed upon, posterity will not forgive us if we sit, fold our arms and watch while the basic rights necessary for survival as humans are being deprived of a sect of people. It is indeed our duty to stand up and make a difference. Albinos are humans, they deserve our love and care. NO DISCRIMINATION! Merit Gogo-fyneface Esq. Uzoma Otogbo Esq.