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The Right To Self-Defense: A New Wild West?

The recent saying (in Pidgin English), "No gree for anybody this year," has become more of a slogan and a very interesting one at that, by Nigerians in 2024.

Recently, it was reported by that a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the lawmaker representing Delta North Senatorial District, Ned Nwoko, has said Nigerians should be allowed to own and bear firearms. Nwoko also called for the introduction of a bill that allows civilians to own and carry firearms, saying that he is sponsoring a bill on self-defense and firearms ownership regulation.

According to the lawmaker, he had introduced a bill on self-defense and firearms ownership regulation, which is currently listed in the Senate awaiting its first reading, which deals with this pressing issue in order to further give life to the Right of Nigerians to private defense.

Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) provides for the right to life of every citizen of Nigeria. The same right is protected under the African Charter of Human and People's Rights as well as under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To ensure that the provisions of these laws as regards the right to life are not rendered nugatory, it is highly recommended that there is a need to give teeth to the toothless provisions of the Criminal Code. Section 32 of the Criminal Code provides that:

A person is not criminally responsible for an act or omission if he does or omits to do the act under any of the following circumstances:
(a) when the act is reasonably necessary in order to resist actual and unlawful violence threatened to him, or to another person in his presence; (b) when he does or omits to do the act in order to save himself from immediate death or grievous harm threatened to be inflicted upon him by some person actually present and in a position to execute the threats, and believing himself to be unable otherwise to escape the carrying of the threats into execution.

The point I am laboring to make is that it is high time that the right to bear arms for the purpose of protecting one's life within the ambit of the law and for the purpose of self-defense is given a legal imprimatur by the instrument of legislation considering the security challenges, particularly the recent Plateau killings, where no less than 100 civilians were killed in the attack.

It is submitted that the right to life will continue to be told like a tale if Nigerians are not allowed to protect themselves reasonably.



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