An Appraisal of the Night Masquerade Festival and Discrimination against Women in Nigeria from an International Human Rights Law Perspective

in African Journal of Legal Studies

Abstract

The Night Masquerade is one of several cultural practices that are well rooted within the Yoruba people in the south-western part of Nigeria. The masquerade is believed to be an adult male member of the society. This person traditionally walks about the town nakedly in the company of numerous other adult male members of the society, performing rituals and appeasing the gods. Generally, women are forbidden from viewing this masquerade and any woman who violates this rule shall be put to death to appease the gods. Over the years, this cultural practice has generated heated arguments and concern, especially from human rights activists and feminists. The paper will argue that any cultural practice that promotes discrimination on the basis of sex and that in fact leads to unnecessary restriction of movement and wanton loss of lives is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.

Abstract

Abstract

The Night Masquerade is one of several cultural practices that are well rooted within the Yoruba people in the south-western part of Nigeria. The masquerade is believed to be an adult male member of the society. This person traditionally walks about the town nakedly in the company of numerous other adult male members of the society, performing rituals and appeasing the gods. Generally, women are forbidden from viewing this masquerade and any woman who violates this rule shall be put to death to appease the gods. Over the years, this cultural practice has generated heated arguments and concern, especially from human rights activists and feminists. The paper will argue that any cultural practice that promotes discrimination on the basis of sex and that in fact leads to unnecessary restriction of movement and wanton loss of lives is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.

1. Introduction

The Night Masquerade is one of several cultural practices that are well rooted within the Yoruba people in the south-western part of Nigeria. As its name implies, the outing of this masquerade is usually at night. The masquerade is believed to be an adult male member of the society. This person traditionally walks about the town nakedly in the company of numerous other adult male members of the society, performing rituals and appeasing the gods. Generally, women are forbidden from viewing this masquerade and any woman who violates this rule shall be put to death to appease the gods.

Over the years, this cultural practice has generated heated arguments and concern, especially from human rights activists and feminists. The controversy about this practice relates to some rules which are considered discriminatory against women. What has been of concern to human rights advocates in general is not the fact that women are forbidden from participating in this cultural phenomenon, but the fact that the practice places restriction on some fundamental rights of women in the society. Women’s freedom of movement is restricted whenever the night masquerade is scheduled to tour the town. This has led to the loss of lives of several women, specifically in situations of health emergencies which require urgent medical attention. Such women have been disallowed from being taken to hospitals for medical care on the ground that the night masquerade was in town. Most pathetic and rather tragic in this regard are the cases of pregnant women undergoing child labour whose lives and those of the unborn babies have been lost due to this practice in the name of custom and tradition.

In Nigeria, as in most other nations, the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex is well entrenched in the 1999 Constitution. There are also several regional and international human rights instruments which affirm the equality of men and women by providing that no one will be discriminated against on the basis of sex. Plethora of judicial authorities abound in the Nigerian human rights jurisprudence, as well as those of regional and international human rights treaties, which firmly affirm the equal status of men and women in a civilized society.

What shall we say then about this practice in Nigeria? There have been counter arguments that the right to cultural practices is also well entrenched under international law and that it will be wrong to argue that a cultural practice is discriminatory and therefore a violation of the equal rights of men and women, without due regard to the provisions of international instruments which guarantee the right to cultural practice to every people. The above scenario undoubtedly leads to a crisis in the domain of human rights and a study needs to be undertaken in this regard to resolve the collision. The paper assumes this lofty responsibility. This paper argues that the kind of cultural practices protected under international human rights instruments are those in tandem with practices and values expected in a civilized society. The paper will argue that any cultural practice that promotes discrimination on the basis of sex, which leads to unnecessary restriction of movement and wanton loss of lives, is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.

The cultural practice in issue, among other violations, infringes on women’s right to freedom of movement and reduces their equality with men, contrary to the provisions of Article 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.1 Equality, as an ideal, shines brightly in the galaxy of liberal aspirations. Attempts to capture it in legal form are numerous and often grand: all human rights documents, both international and domestic, include an equality guarantee and this is bolstered in many jurisdictions with statutory provisions.2

Non-discrimination clauses figure in nearly all instruments concerning the international protection of human rights concluded after the Second World War, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948),3 the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950),4 the American Convention on Human Rights,5 the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,6 the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)7 and the ICCPR, not to mention documents that are exclusively aimed against some specific type of discrimination, such as the International Labour Organization Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (1958),8 the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education,9 adopted in 1960, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979)10 and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination11 adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1965.

Discrimination clauses also feature in conventions in other fields of international law. Examples include instruments regulating economic relations such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (1947)12 as well as the Treaties establishing the European Economic Communities (1951, 1957);13 further, the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic14 and on Consular15 Relations (1961 and 1963; Articles 47 and 72, respectively), the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1967; Article 1(2)),16 the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone (1958; Articles 16(3) and 18(2)),17 the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1969; Articles 4 and 5)18 and many more.

Current realities under international law have also made it clear that the right of people to their cultural heritage is also well entrenched. Treaties guaranteeing this right include the Universal Declaration,19 the ICESCR,20 the ICCPR,21 the Declaration of the Principle of International Cultural Co-operation (UNESCO, 1966),22 Recommendation on Participation by the People at Large in Cultural Life and Their Contribution to it (UNESCO, 1976),23 the Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice (UNESCO, 1978),24 the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (UNESCO, 2001),25 and the African Charter.26 As shown above, the right against discrimination and cultural rights are both guaranteed under international law and they carry with them obligations which states parties to the various instruments on the subject are expected to fulfil. The question that then arises is which of these rights prevails in case of conflict?

The cultural practices relating to the Night Masquerade in south-western Nigeria bring to the fore the complex legal contention which could arise in asserting that men and women are equal before the law and no form of cultural practice could legitimately whittle down this equality, on the one hand, and justifying these discriminatory cultural practices with reference to the provisions of international instruments, on the other hand. This is the crux of this paper. The paper seeks to strike a balance between these two competing rights, in line with international standards, natural justice, equity and good conscience.

For this reason, the paper will be sectionalised into three parts. Section One will provide an overview of discrimination against women in Nigeria, with reference to customary and statutory frameworks. Section Two will examine the peoples’ right to cultural heritage, as guaranteed under international human rights treaties and the Human Rights Committee General Comments on the subject. Section Three will attempt to settle the raging controversy as to which prevails in case of conflict between the right of women not to be discriminated against on cultural grounds and the right of people to their cultural heritage. In this part also, provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as well as those of international human rights instruments and their interpretation thereof in form of General Comments will be heavily relied on. The paper will then end with a conclusion which asserts that cultural rights cannot be invoked or interpreted in such a way as to justify any act leading to the denial or violation of other human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially the right to be free from discrimination.

1.1. Discrimination against Women in Nigeria

No particular legislation defines what constitutes discrimination against women in Nigeria. The definition provided for in Article 1 of CEDAW would have been authoritative had the Bill for the domestication of CEDAW, which stands as acid test for gender equality in Nigeria and which was presented to the Nigerian National Assembly in 2007, been accepted. The Bill was outrightly rejected by the legislators and this singular act has put on hold the process of integrating CEDAW as an integral part of the criminal justice and legal administrative system in Nigeria.27

Discrimination, as understood from the point of view of Article 1 of CEDAW is:

any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.28

While interpreting some Articles that deal with discrimination in the ICCPR, the Human Rights Committee (HRC) in General Comment 1829 notes that the term discrimination or its constituent is neither defined nor indicated in the Covenant. Reference was made to the definitions provided by Article 1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination30 and that of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women31 and the HRC concludes that these definitions only deal with cases of discrimination on specific grounds. The HRC, however, states that ‘discrimination’ as used in the Covenant should be understood to imply any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference which is based on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, and which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by all persons, on an equal footing, of all rights and freedoms.32

Successive Nigerian Constitutions have made identical provisions for the right against discrimination on the basis of sex. The 1979 Constitution for instance, provides in Section 39 that “a citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex,33 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, religions, or other opinions are not made subject or be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions”.34

Under the current 1999 Constitution of Nigeria,35 Section 42 reproduces the provisions of Section 39 of the 1979 Constitution in exact terms. This provision therefore serves as one of the authorities to be relied on in action for redress on the grounds of discrimination. While Nigeria ratified CEDAW in 1985, without any reservations, the full effects of this Convention have not yet been felt. Nigeria being a dualist State, the provisions of international conventions and agreements to which Nigeria is a party do not have direct force of law, except as domesticated by the National Assembly in line with section 12(1) of the Constitution.36 The courts in Nigeria have also done creditably well in affirming the equal status of men and women in Nigeria, especially in customary matters.

There are several factors perpetuating discriminatory practices against women in Nigeria. We obviously cannot provide an exhaustive list, but the most prominent are cultural practices touching almost every aspect of life such as marriage, widowhood, inheritance, property acquisition, education, politics, employment and religion. The Legislature and Judiciary have also somehow contributed to the relegation of Nigerian women to the background. While Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution forbids discrimination on the ground of sex, among other grounds, the same Constitution provides that Nigerian women who marry a non-Nigerian cannot confer citizenship on their husbands by virtue of such marriages, but reverse is the case with Nigerian men who marry non-Nigerian women; such women are constitutionally conferred with Nigerian citizenship.37 The case of Suberu v. Sumonu38 is also notorious in Nigeria for classifying women as chattel that should be inherited as part of the properties of a deceased husband.

In south-western Nigeria, the Night Masquerade is one of the commonly celebrated cultural practices that civilisation has not swept away; it is arguably one of the major cultural practices which affront the right of women not to be discriminated against on sexual ground. This cultural practice is an annual rite widely believed to appease the gods for protection, child bearing and peace of the town. As earlier noted, women are generally forbidden from seeing or witnessing the Festival of the Night Masquerade.39 Some quarters believe that the Night Masquerade is a male member of the society and he comes out naked during this festival. In some other quarters, it is also believed that it is the ancestors or gods themselves who come down to clean up the land. This perhaps explains the reason why the Masquerade comes out at night and hence acquired its name as ‘the Night Masquerade’.

Over the years, the festival of the Night Masquerade brings with it series of human rights violations, from restriction or suspension of the freedom of movement, to gruesome murder of innocent lives. Among other notable calamities associated with this festival was the communal clash that broke out among the Yorubas and the Hausas in Shagamu, Ogun State of Nigeria, in the year 1999.40 The government and people of Nigeria will never forget how innocent lives were sent to early graves on cultural, yet barbaric beliefs and assumptions surrounding the Night Masquerade. The Yorubas who were adherents of the Night Masquerade had contended that the Hausas living in the Shagamu Community of Ogun State of Nigeria had failed to stay indoors during the week of the cultural celebration, as a mark of respect for the Night Masquerade deity. The Hausas on the other hand, argued that the Yorubas had indiscriminately attacked them.

The horrific aspect of the festival of the Night Masquerade is not just the fact that people, particularly women, are disallowed from moving around during this cultural celebration. Rather, the fact that even pregnant women who are undergoing child labour are also disallowed from being driven to the hospitals for urgent medical attention presents an obvious objectionable strictness with regards to the rules and procedure associated with the festival of the Night Masquerade. Several lives of women undergoing this kind of emergency medical situation have been wasted. The tragedy becomes most unbearable considering the fact that the lives of several thousands of innocent unborn babies are condemned to death. This obviously is an issue of interest to human rights advocates.

To note that the activities of women in a whole city could be stopped abruptly due to a particular traditional or cultural practice smacks of barbarity and is in fact discriminatory. Records have it that whenever the festival of the Night Masquerade is to be performed, women are forcefully prevented from going about their normal activities; they are prevented, against their will, from leaving their homes and engaging in their normal business activities.41 It does not matter whether a woman is an adherent of the Night Masquerade in order to be subjected to this traditional practice. Women of all race and religion who are within the locality where the festival of the Night Masquerade is to be performed are automatically webbed down for as long as the festival lasts.42

Apart from the fact that the festival of the Night Masquerade has turned out to be a menace to the women folk in its pattern of activities, the adherents of this cultural practice have gradually lost focus on the true reasons for the festival of the Night Masquerade. The Yoruba folklore or superstitious inclinations consider masquerades as heavenly beings to be respected and revered.43 They are supposed to be the harbinger of peace and tranquillity in the society. The Night Masquerade for instance, is traditionally used to ward-off danger and abominations in the society for the purpose of promoting peaceful co-existence and a safe society. The current realities with regards to the festival of the Night Masquerade reveal that the adherents are pursuing the opposite of the above stated aims.

Writing on the evils that the adherents of the Night Masquerade are perpetrating under the cloak of cultural practice, Akin Akintayo has documented some of these anti-social practices thus:

The Masquerade festival usually lasts a week, however, it appears these heavenly beings have decided to take up abode on earth . . . the masquerade has become a menacing chief of criminals that runs through the market grabbing condiments and ingredients that included two live goats – A recipe for masquerade stew?

His cohorts bear whips, harass people and demand under duress monetary gifts whilst creating traffic jams and rolling over bonnets of cars that people are so terrified of menace and aggression, they are completely pliant parting with “gifts” for idle men who can get away with it.

This enterprise has become so lucrative, the festival has been running for 3 months and there is no end in sight except when it rains – in which case the masquerade probably changes into waterproof garb to keep up the game.

It would appear masquerades are no more the harmless entertainment with some underlying traditional rituals and a public cultural spectacle; they have been co-opted into criminal enterprise and have become a lawless and menacing clique in the pay of powerful and shady masters . . .44

Despite all the illegalities being perpetrated by the adherents of the Night Masquerade, none of them has been brought to book for these violations and most people are not bold enough to challenge them or take legal actions in court. Because of the respect for traditional rites, it is believed that whoever challenges these adherents is not only challenging tradition but also challenging the gods and doing this may lead to unpleasant repercussions. Mrs. Titilayo Benson, however, set a record in 2009 when she instituted an action against the Lagos State Government, the Oba45 of Ikorodu and his Council of Chiefs for various acts of discrimination which were perpetrated against women in the Ikorodu Community of Lagos State, Nigeria by virtue of the celebration of the festival of the Night Masquerade in that community in the months of May and June of the year 2009.46

Although the outcome of the above case is yet to be known, it should be noted that some religious bodies and other interest groups have started sensitizing their female members to disregard any ‘stay at home directives’ from the adherents of the Night Masquerade and that they should go about their normal business activities without fear of intimidation or molestation. As can be expected, this call by religious bodies and other interest groups have not in anyway deterred the adherents of the Night Masquerade. They have rather waxed stronger in the celebration of the festival of the Night Masquerade, as well as in its discriminatory consequences. Women remain the major victims of this discriminatory cultural practice. The right most violated and which is the central focus of this paper is the restriction of the right to freedom of movement on sexual ground, in spite of the constitutional rhetoric that declares every Nigerian equal irrespective of sex.

In view of this and many more instances of discrimination against women in Nigeria, Nigerian women have continued to make collective action in attempts to safeguard and improve their positions.47 They have also been joined in this cause by human rights activists who keep challenging the constitutionality of restricting the freedom of movement of women because of traditional festivals such as the Night Masquerade. Campaigns are also launched on almost a daily basis against other form of discriminatory practices against women which are traceable to custom. Under many customary laws, wives are expected to undergo very harsh and degrading rites at widowhood and are often subjected to ritual periods of isolation.48 Discriminatory socio-cultural practices such as male preference, child marriage, forced marriage, female genital mutilation,49 wife beating and other harmful practices limit the possibilities for women to realize constitutional provisions on citizenship and fundamental rights.50

1.2. The Peoples’ Right to Cultural Heritage

As the argument rages on concerning the incompatibility of customary practices with the status of women, as provided under the 1999 Constitution, there have been counter-arguments from advocates of cultural practices that everybody has the right to be identified with and practice his or her cultural beliefs. They justify their contention with the fact that the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex and the right to cultural heritage are both fundamental rights guaranteed under the ICCPR and other international instruments adopted on the subject. An attempt will be made in this part of the paper to examine some of the provisions of international instruments which guarantee the right to cultural heritage while the next part of the paper will take a position on which of these two competing rights shall prevail in case of conflict, particularly with regards to the festival of the Night Masquerade and restriction of the freedom of movement of women in south-western Nigeria.

Before examining the relevant provisions of international instruments on the right to cultural life, it may be necessary to first determine what we mean by cultural rights. The vagueness of the right to participate in cultural life has been one obstacle in attributing responsibility and accountability to the State.51 Undoubtedly, cultural right takes its name from ‘culture’ and culture is a very complex phenomenon, both in content and concept, which has contributed the greatest difficulties in defining cultural rights. Cultural rights, it has been argued, can only be understood within the context of culture and therefore the definition, or at least an understanding of culture must be in place before we proceed to define cultural rights as human rights.52 What then does ‘culture’ mean?

Several attempts have been made at defining culture.53 Eide, for example, defines culture as:

Culture in its material sense, as product, as the accumulated material heritage of mankind, either as a whole or part of particular human groups, including but not limited to monuments and artefacts; Culture as process of artistic or scientific creation, i.e. the emphasis being placed on the process and on the creator(s) of culture; and Culture in its anthropological sense, i.e. culture as a way of life54 or, in UNESCO’s words, the “set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group”; it encompasses “in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.”55

Cultural rights are rights related to art and culture, both understood in a large sense. The objective of these rights is to guarantee that people and communities have an access to culture and can participate in the culture of their election. Cultural rights are human rights that aim at assuring the enjoyment of culture and its components in conditions of equality, human dignity and non-discrimination. They are rights related to themes such as language; cultural and artistic production; participation in cultural life; cultural heritage; intellectual property rights; author’s rights; minorities and access to culture, among others.

Article 27 of the Universal Declaration makes provisions for cultural rights. It provides that “everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”56 This Article clearly espouses one of the most important purposes and principles of the United Nations as stated in Article 1(3) of the Charter.57 The two paragraphs of Article 27 consider separate aspects of cultural rights. Paragraph 1 prescribes both group and individual rights, while paragraph 2 prescribes individual rights.58 This provision is arguably the foundation for all other cultural rights provisions in subsequent international human rights instruments.59

Article 15 of the ICESCR60 provides for the right to cultural life in almost exact terms as the Universal Declaration. Article 15(1) enjoins states parties to recognize the right of everyone to take part in cultural life; to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications and to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author. The importance of culture to international development is well emphasised in Article 15(4), while Article 15(2) emphasises that the steps to be taken by states parties to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for the conservation, the development and the diffusion of science and culture.

Article 27 of the ICCPR61 comes with a somewhat different language from those of the Universal Declaration and ICESCR. While the latter relates cultural rights to everyone within the states parties to the treaties, Article 27 of the ICCPR narrows this right down to minorities present within the territory of the states parties.62 The Article guarantees to these minorities the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language. Notably, no political rights are provided for. Minorities as such have not been endowed with any rights of political autonomy.63

The CERD,64 CEDAW,65 the Convention on the Rights of the Child,66 the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families67 and the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities68 all make provisions for the preservation of the cultural life of the people. Turning to regional human rights instruments, the African Charter recognises, in Article 17, that “every individual may freely take part in the cultural life of his community.”69 The Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1988 Protocol of San Juan)70 recognises cultural rights in similar terms to the Universal Declaration and to the ICESCR. The ECHR71 does not explicitly provide for the protection of cultural rights, however, some of its Articles on freedom of expression, freedom of thoughts, conscience and religion, as well as the non-discrimination clause are relevant to the free participation in cultural life.

In 1990 the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe declared the right of national minorities to maintain and develop their culture in all aspects, free of any attempts at assimilation against their will.72 In 1991, in the Charter of Paris for a New Europe,73 the states participating declared that the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of national minorities have the right freely to express, preserve and develop that identity without any discrimination and in full equality before the law.74 The 1995 Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities75 clearly recognises cultural rights and establishes specific obligations on States regarding their respect, protection and fulfilment.

The 1996 European Social Charter (Revised)76 includes provisions relevant to cultural rights in its provisions on the right to just conditions of work and the rights of migrant workers. It establishes the State obligation “to ensure a weekly rest period which shall, as far as possible, coincide with the day recognised by tradition or custom in the country or region concerned as a day of rest” and “to promote and facilitate, as far as practicable, the teaching of the migrant worker’s mother tongue to the children of the migrant worker.”77 The more recent Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,78 which entered into force in 2002 does not mention the term “cultural rights” but in Article 22 provides that the Union “shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.”

In October 2005, the Council of Europe adopted and opened for signature the Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society.79 The Convention presents a shift from the question of how to preserve cultural heritage, to the question of why the value of cultural heritage should be enhanced and for whom. This is based on the idea that knowledge and the use of heritage form part of the citizen’s right to participate in cultural life, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration. The text presents heritage both as a resource for human development, the enhancement of cultural diversity and the promotion of intercultural dialogue, as well as part of an economic development model based on the principles of sustainable resource use.

In UNESCO’s rich standard-setting activity, various instruments have contributed to the understanding of the right to participate in cultural life and have particularly stressed the value of international cultural cooperation. The 1966 Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation80 states, in Article 2, that international cultural co-operation shall cover all aspects of intellectual and creative activities relating to education, science and culture and lays out the aims and conditions of such co-operation. Recommendation on Participation by the People at Large in Cultural Life and Their Contribution to it,81 Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice82 as well as the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity83 all makes profound and detailed provisions on cultural rights and their importance to national and international development.

In 1994, the Human Rights Committee enriched the understanding of the cultural rights of minorities and indigenous peoples by adopting General Comment No. 2384 on Article 27 of the ICCPR. The gist of General Comment 23 is the effort by the HRC to immune Article 27 of the Covenant against perceived misinterpretation. Article 27 provides that in those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to these minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion or to use their own language.

The HRC notes that the operative word in this provision is ‘exist’. As such, it is unnecessary to establish the requirement of permanent residency, nationality or citizenship on the part of the concerned minorities or persons belonging to these minorities in the offending state in order to take advantage of this provision. Thus, migrant workers or even visitors in a state party constituting such minorities are entitled not to be denied the exercise of these rights.85 This is so because Article 2(1) of the Covenant requires states parties to ensure that the rights protected under the Covenant are available to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction, except rights which are expressly made to apply to citizens.86

1.3. Discrimination versus Culture

From the above analysis, it is clear that the right to be protected from discrimination and cultural rights are both well rooted in international law. Prima facie, it appears that those condemning the festival of the Night Masquerade in south-western Nigeria, by relying on the provisions of international instruments, and those justifying the cultural practice of the Night Masquerade on the ground that international law recognizes the peoples’ right to cultural heritage are both right. However, this cannot be true as there must be a kind of balancing between these rights in competing circumstances. One must definitely give way to the other. We therefore need to establish in this part of the paper which of these rights will pave way for the other.

Before delving into international analysis on which of these rights will prevail in case of conflict, it is appropriate to start this discussion with the examination of Nigerian local statute and jurisprudence on this issue. The 1999 Constitution87 appears to be the foremost authority on any discussion concerning human rights and fundamental freedoms in Nigeria. While the Constitution makes provisions for the right to be protected from discrimination, under Section 42, as well as the freedom of movement,88 there appears to not be any express provisions guaranteeing cultural rights to the people upon which the adherents of the Night Masquerade may justifiably rely.89 Having said this, it must also be noted that the 1999 Constitution is supreme, and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.90 Furthermore, it is well settled under Nigerian law that no other law, custom or tradition can override the provisions of the Constitution.91

Examining the supremacy battle between discrimination and cultural rights with the lens of the 1999 Constitution, it is therefore seen that no culture, custom or tradition, no matter how notorious, can pass the legal test by discriminating, among other grounds, on the basis of sex. Arguably, even if this right is not expressly provided for under the 1999 Constitution, it will still be enforceable since Nigeria is a party to some of the international instruments dealing with the subject. This argument seems attractive but weak in that, as already stated elsewhere in this work, Nigeria is a dualist state where the provisions of international treaties to which she is a party do not have any force of law except as domesticated by the National Assembly.92 Notably, only few of these international treaties have been domesticated in Nigeria. Assuming without conceding, however, that all the international treaties and instruments dealing with cultural rights have been domesticated in Nigeria, there will still be a problem as to the enforceability of these provisions in view of Section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution, which upholds the supremacy of the Nigerian Constitution over other laws.

The judiciary in Nigeria has also pronounced several customary practices which discriminate against women as inconsistent with the principles of natural justice, equity and good conscience. In Uke v. Iro,93 the plaintiff commenced the case at the Customary Court in Imo State over a piece of land which he claimed to have inherited from his father. The Court visited the locus in quo and after review of the evidence of both parties gave judgement to the plaintiff. The defendants’ appeal to the Customary Court of Appeal failed and they further appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The question of whether a woman can be sued or called to give evidence in relation to a land subject to customary law was considered. On illegality of customs which deprive women of constitutionally guaranteed right, the Court held that “the right of all sexes are protected under the organic laws of the land, hence, any laws or customs that seek to relegate women to the status of a second class citizen, thus depriving them of their invaluable and constitutionally guaranteed rights are laws and customs fit for garbage and consigned to history. A custom which strives to deprive a woman of constitutionally guaranteed rights is otiose and offends the provisions that guarantee equal protection under the law.”94

Asika v. Atuanya,95 was a case concerning customs discriminating against women from owning land in their father’s estate. In overruling this customary practice, the Court held that a custom such as the one in the instant case, which is repugnant to natural justice, should not be allowed to rear its ugly head. A similar decision was reached in the case of Mojekwu v. Mojekwu96 where it was held that:

A Court of law being a Court of equity as well cannot invoke a customary law which is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. The ‘Oli-Ekpi’ custom is one of such customs as it permits the son of the brother of a deceased person to inherit the property of the deceased to the exclusion of the deceased’s female child.97

At the international level, it should be noted that not all customary practices would qualify as part of cultural rights. International human rights law forbids rites that violate human rights.98 Article 29 of the Universal Declaration clearly addresses the responsibilities of the individual to the community and it places certain limits to the exercise of rights and freedoms.99 Specifically, Article 29(2) states that “in the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.” From the above provisions it is logical to infer that any custom that tramples on others rights to enjoy liberty and freedom falls short of international standard and is thus questionable.

In order to determine what cultural practice qualifies as ‘cultural right’ under international law, certain guideposts have been formulated by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,100 through its examination of the reports of states parties. One major important element of the right to cultural life is that the cultural practice in issue must foster the principle of non-discrimination and equality. Consequently, any custom that discriminates on the basis of sex has a big question mark as to its categorization as a cultural right. In concluding on its comment on Article 27 of the ICCPR,101 the HRC states that the Article relates to rights whose protection imposes specific obligations on states parties. The protection of these rights, according to the Committee, is directed towards ensuring the survival and continued development of the cultural, religious and social identity of the minorities concerned, thus enriching the fabric of society as a whole.102

Interesting to note, however, is that the Committee, at paragraph 8 of General Comment 23, observes that none of the rights protected under Article 27 of the Covenant may be legitimately exercised in a manner or to an extent inconsistent with the other provisions of the Covenant. This clarification no doubt puts to rest the raging controversy as to which of the rights will prevail in case of a clash between cultural rights and other rights protected in the Covenant, particularly and as we have in the instant case, between the right to be free from discrimination, as well as freedom of movement and cultural rights. To corroborate this observation of the HRC, a writer has also opined that the right to culture is limited at the point at which it infringes on another human rights and that claiming cultural relativism as an excuse to violate or deny human rights is an abuse of the right to culture.103

2. Conclusion

So far, an attempt has been made in this paper to strike a balance between the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex and cultural rights of the Yoruba people of south-western Nigeria. We have looked at the festival of the Night Masquerade in Nigeria and the human rights implications of restricting the freedom of movement of the women folk. Apart from discriminatory customary practices against women associated with the Night Masquerade, we have also explored other discriminatory practices against women generally in the south-western part of Nigeria. The defence usually put up by those who perpetrate discriminatory cultural practices against women has always been that international law guarantees cultural rights to every people. They consequently argue that it would be erroneous to invalidate a customary practice in favour of other competing human rights.

In resolving the protracted debate between the adherents of the Night Masquerade and human rights advocates in south-western Nigeria, we have examined the provisions of several international and regional human rights instruments on the subjects of discrimination and cultural rights. The analysis made in the last part of this paper has clearly shown that as much as the competing rights in this paper are concerned, cultural rights have to pave way for other rights, in case of conflict. In other words, the traditional practices associated with the festival of the Night Masquerade in south-western Nigeria which forbid women from seeing the Night Masquerade by keeping them in doors for the whole period of this festival simply because of their sex is utterly discriminatory. These practices therefore run contrary not just to the provisions of international human rights instruments on the subject but also to Sections 41 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

1) 16 December 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Articles 9–14, Can T.S. 1976 No. 47, 6 I.L.M. 368 (entered into force 23 March 1976) [ICCPR].

2) S. Fredman, Discrimination Law (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002), at 1. For examples of these domestic statutory provisions, see Article 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, available online at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/ (accessed 7 February 2012); The 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments of the Constitution of the United States of America, available online at http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html (accessed 7 February 2012); Article 3 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany, available online at http://www.constitution.org/cons/germany.txt (accessed 7 February 2012); Article 7 of the Constitution of the Republic of China, available online at http://www.taiwandocuments.org/constitution01.htm (accessed 7 February 2012); Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, available online at http://www.nigeria-law.org/index.html (accessed 7 February 2012); and Article 17 of the Constitution of Ghana, available online at http://www.parliament.gh/constitution_republic_ghana.html (accessed 7 February 2012).

3) GA Res 217A(III) (1948), UN GAOR, 3d Sess., Supp. No. 13, UN Doc. A/810 (1948) [Universal Declaration].

4) 4 November 1950, 213 U.N.T.S. 221 at 223, Eur. T.S. 5 [ECHR].

5) 22 November 1969, 1144 U.N.T.S. 123, 9 I.L.M. 99 (entered into force 18 July 1978) [ACHR].

6) 27 June 1981, 1520 U.N.T.S. 217, 21 I.L.M 58 (entered into force 21 October 1986) [African Charter].

7) 16 December 1966, 993 U.N.T.S. 3, 6 ILM 368 (entered into force 3 January 1976) [ICESCR].

8) 25 June 1958, 362 U.N.T.S. 31 (entered into force 15 June 1960).

9) 14 December 1960, 429 U.N.T.S. 93 (entered into force 22 May 1962).

10) 18 December 1979, 1249 U.N.T.S. 13 (entered into force 3 September 1981) [CEDAW].

11) 7 March 1966, 660 U.N.T.S. 195 (entered into force 4 January 1969) [CERD].

12) 1947, 55 U.N.T.S. 194 (entered into force 1 January 1948).

13) These are the Treaty Establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, 18 April 1951, 261 U.N.T.S. 140 (entered into force 24 July 1952) and The Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community, 25 March 1957, 298 U.N.T.S. 11 (entered into force 1 January 1958).

14) 18 April 1961, 500 U.N.T.S. 95, 23 UST 3227; 55 AJIL 1064 (entered into force 24 April 1964).

15) 24 April 1963, 596 U.N.T.S. 261, 21 UST 77 (entered into force 19 March 1967).

16) 27 January 1967, 610 U.N.T.S. 205 (entered into force 10 October 1967).

17) 29 April 1958, 516 U.N.T.S. 205 (entered into force 10 September 1964).

18) 1 July 1968, 729 U.N.T.S. 161 (entered into force 5 March 1970).

19) Universal Declaration, supra note 3.

20) ICESCR, supra note 7.

21) ICCPR, supra note 1.

22) Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation, 4 November 1966, available online at http://www.un-documents.net/dpicc.htm (accessed 7 February 2012).

23) Recommendation on Participation by the People at Large in Cultural Life and Their Contribution to it, 26 November 1976, available online at http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=13097&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html (accessed 7 February 2012).

24) Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice, 27 November 1978, available online at http://www.unesco.org/education/information/nfsunesco/pdf/RACE_E.PDF (accessed 7 February 2012_.

25) Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, 2 November 2001, available online at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001271/127160m.pdf (accessed 11 February 2012).

26) African Charter, supra note 6.

27) The Nigeria CEDAW NGO Coalition, The Nigeria CEDAW NGO Coalition Shadow Report for consideration by the CEDAW Committee in its review of the Government of Nigeria’s 6th Periodic Country Report (2004–2008) on the implementation of CEDAW in Nigeria, available online at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/BAOBADNigeria41.pdf (accessed 1 October 2011).

28) CEDAW, supra note 10, Article 1.

29) Human Rights Committee, General Comment 18, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.1 at 26 (1994) [General Comment 18].

30) Supra note 11.

31) Supra note 10.

32) General Comment 18, supra note 29, para. 7.

33) Emphasis added.

34) 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, section 39(1)(a) and 39(1)(b), available online at http://www.nigeriacongress.org/resources/constitution/nig_const_79.pdf (accessed 1 October 2011) [1979 Constitution].

35) The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, available online at http://www.nigeria-law.org/ConstitutionOfTheFederalRepublicOfNigeria.htm (accessed 1 October 2011) [1999 Constitution].

36) Ibid. Section 12(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that No treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly.”

37) 1999 Constitution, supra note 35, Section 26. See also C. Pereira, ‘Understanding Women’s Experience of Citizenship in Nigeria’, in E. Annan-Yao, Z.N. Bashaw and C.G. Ishengoma (eds), Gender, Economies and Entitlements In Africa (Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, Dakar, 2004), pp. 87–, at p. 93.

38) Suberu v. Sumonu (1957) 2 FSC 33 per Jibowu, FJ. (as he then was). His Lordship held thus: “. . . it is a well settled rule of native law and custom of the Yoruba people that a wife could not inherit her husband’s property since herself, like a chattel, is to be inherited by a relation of her late husband”. It should be noted that the potency of this decision has been whittled down by the coming into force of different Nigerian Constitutions which guarantee the equality of men and women. Furthermore, several latter judicial pronouncements have refused to follow the line of Jibowu J but have rather been influenced by the provisions of the Constitution on the subject. Some of these cases will be discussed under part three of this paper.

39) Kunle Shayo, Egungun Festival: The Return of the Ancestor in Masquerade Form Among the Yorubas, (Motherland Nigeria, 28 January 2009), available online at http://www.motherlandnigeria.com/festivals.html (accessed 12 June 2011).

40) B. Phillips, ‘World: Africa-Ethnic Fighting Follows Nigeria Festival’ (BBC News, 19 July 1999), available online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/397922.stm (accessed 8 April 2012).

41) T. Benson, ‘Stop Oro Ritual in Ikorodu’ (The Nigerian Guardian Newspaper, 16 June 2009), available online at http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/ArchiveIndex09_html?pdate=160609&SUBMIT=Submit (accessed 18 December 2011).

42) In May 2008, for example, female students writing the WAEC Examinations were held back in the examination centres for two nights because they could not go to their homes after taking their examinations because of the Night Masquerade. See T. Benson, ‘Fashola Please Stop this Oro Practice in Ikorodu’ (My Naija News, 16 July 2008), available online at http://www.mynaijanews.com/content/view/1772/138/ (accessed 15 January 2012).

43) A. Akintayo, ‘Our Culture Adopted for Criminality’ (Akin.Blog-City.com, 28 May 2008), available online at http://akin.blog-city.com/nigeria_our_culture_adopted_for_criminality.htm (accessed 15 January 2012).

44) Ibid.

45) This means ‘King’.

46) T. Benson, ‘Campaign to End the Oro Ritual in Lagos State’ (Naijablog.blogspot.com, 16 June 2009), available online at http://naijablog.blogspot.com/2009/06/campaign-to-end-oro-ritual-in-lagos.html (accessed 15 January 2012).

47) V.B. Tashjian, ‘Nigeria: Women Building on the Past’, in L. Walters (ed.), Women’s Rights: A Global View (Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 2001), pp. 155–, at p. 166.

48) C. Pereira, ‘Understanding Women’s Experience of Citizenship in Nigeria’, in E. Annan-Yao, Z.N. Bashaw and C.G. Ishengoma (eds), Gender, Economies and Entitlements In Africa (Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, Dakar, 2004), pp. 87–, at p. 101.

49) Female circumcision is considered a significant custom in dozens of countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, where girls may be seen as impure and unworthy of marriage if they have not undergone it. This customary practice has been described as one of the most repulsive restrictions on women’s sexuality and exercise of undue domination by men on women. See M. Omonubi-McDonnell, Gender Inequality in Nigeria (Spectrum Books, Ibadan, 2003), at 46.

50) Supra note 48, p. 101.

51) E. Stamatopoulou, Cultural Rights in International Law: Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Beyond (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, 2007), at 107.

52) Ibid.

53) See the definitional approaches explored by A. Eide, ‘Cultural Rights as Individual Human Rights’ in A. Eide, C. Krause and A. Rosas (eds), Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: A Textbook (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden 1995), at p. 230; S. Hansen, ‘The Right to Take Part in the Cultural Life: Towards Developing Core Obligations related to Article 15(1)(a)A Paper presented to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, April 2001’; available online at http://www.worldbank.org/poverty/culture/overview/, at p. 5 (accessed 10 February 2012).

54) A. Eide, ibid. (also cited as footnote by E. Stamatopoulou, Cultural Rights in International Law: Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Beyond (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden 2007), at p. 109).

55) UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Records of the General Conference, Paris, 15 October to 3 November 2001 (cited as footnote by E. Stamatopoulou, Cultural Rights in International Law: Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Beyond (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden 2007), at p. 109).

56) Universal Declaration, supra note 3, Article 27(1).

57) 26 June 1945, 1 U.N.T.S XVI (entered into force 24 October 1945). One of the purposes and principles of the United Nations as reflected in Article 1(3) is “to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

58) G. Melander, ‘Article 27’, in A. Eide, G. Alfredsson, G. Melander, L.A. Rehof and A. Rosas (eds), The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A Commentary (Scandinavian University Press, Oslo, 1992) at p. 429.

59) Ibid., at p. 430.

60) ICESCR, supra note 7, Article 15.

61) ICCPR, supra note 1, Article 27.

62) The text of the article reads: “[i]n those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other member of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.”

63) C. Tomuschat, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, available online at http://untreaty.un.org/cod/avl/ha/iccpr/iccpr.html (accessed 10 February 2012).

64) Supra note 11, Article 5.

65) Supra note 10, Article 13(c).

66) 20 November 1989, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, 28 I.L.M. 1456 (entered into force 2 September 1990) [CRC] at Articles 17, 20, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31.

67) 18 December 1990, 2220 U.N.T.S. 93 (entered into force 1 July, 2003) [MWC] at Articles 31, 43 and 45.

68) GA Res 47/135 (1993), UN GAOR, Supp. No. 49 at 210, UN Doc. A/47/49 (1993) [Persons Belonging to Minorities] at Articles 1, 2 and 4.

69) Supra note 6, Article 17.

70) 17 November 1988, OAS Treaty Series 69, 28 I.L.M. 156 (entered into force 16 November 1999).

71) Supra note 4.

72) Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, June 29, 1990, Article 32.

73) Charter of Paris for a New Europe, available online at http://www.osce.org/documents/mcs/1990/11/4045_en.pdf (accessed 10 February 2012).

74) CSCE, 21 November 1991, 30 I.L.M. 193.

75) 1 February 1995, C.E.T.S. 157 (entered into force 1 February 1998).

76) 3 May 1996, E.T.S 163 (entered into force1 July 1999).

77) Ibid., at Articles 2(5) and 19(12).

78) Official Journal of the European Communities, 18 December 2000 (2000/C 364/01).

79) Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, 27 October 2005, CETS 199, 27.X.2005, available online at http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/cultureheritage/heritage/Resources/Conventions/Conventions_Heritage_EN.pdf (accessed 18 December 2011).

80) Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation, 4 November 1966, available online at http://www.un-documents.net/dpicc.htm (accessed 18 December 2011).

81) Recommendation on Participation by the People at Large in Cultural Life and Their Contribution to it, 26 November 1976, available online at http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=13097&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html (accessed 1 January 2012).

82) Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice, 27 November 1978, available online at http://www.unesco.org/education/information/nfsunesco/pdf/RACE_E.PDF (accessed 10 February 2012).

83) Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, 2 November 2001, available online at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001271/127160m.pdf (10 February 2012).

84) Human Rights Committee, General Comment 23, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.1 at 38 (1994) [General Comment 23].

85) General Comment 23, supra note 84, para. 5.2.

86) See for example political rights as stated in Article 25 of the ICCPR.

87) Supra note 35.

88) Ibid., at s. 41.

89) The adherents of the Night Masquerade may however, rely on the provisions of Section 38 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to freedom of thoughts, conscience and religion. That being said, it is doubtful if this right will prevail where its exercise discriminates against people on the basis of sex.

90) 1999 Constitution, supra note 35, at s. 1(1).

91) Ibid., at s. 1(3). This Section provides that “[i]f any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”

92) Supra note 36.

93) (2002) FWLR (Pt. 129) at 1453 C.A.

94) Ibid., per Pats Acholonu, JCA (as he then was).

95) (2008) All FWLR (Pt. 433) at 1293.

96) (1997) 7 NWLR (Pt. 512) at 283.

97) See also the case of Mojekwu v. Iwuchukwu (2004) All FWLR (Pt. 211) at 1406.

98) E. Stamatopoulou, supra note 51, p. 112.

99) For a detailed exposition on Article 29 of the Universal Declaration, see E. Daes, Freedom of the Individual under Law: A Study on the Individual’s Duties to the Communities and the Limitations on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms under Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, United Nations 1990, Study Series 3, Sales No. E.89.XIV.5.

100) The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is the main international human rights body that has cultural rights explicitly under its mandate. It was established by the Economic and Social Council in 1987 by the Economic and Social Council Resolution 1985/17 of 28 May 1985, E/C.12/1987/1 as an expert human rights body.

101) General Comment 23, supra note 84.

102) Ibid., at para. 9.

103) D. Ayton-Shenker, The Challenge of Human Rights and Cultural Diversity, United Nations Department of Public Information (March 1995), available online at http://www.un.org/rights/dpi1627e.htm (accessed 18 December 2011).

  • 1)

    16 December 1966999 U.N.T.S. 171 Articles 9–14 Can T.S. 1976 No. 47 6 I.L.M. 368 (entered into force 23 March 1976) [ICCPR].

  • 3)

    GA Res 217A(III) (1948) UN GAOR 3d Sess. Supp. No. 13 UN Doc. A/810 (1948) [Universal Declaration].

  • 4)

    4 November 1950213 U.N.T.S. 221 at 223 Eur. T.S. 5 [ECHR].

  • 5)

    22 November 19691144 U.N.T.S. 123 9 I.L.M. 99 (entered into force 18 July 1978) [ACHR].

  • 6)

    27 June 19811520 U.N.T.S. 217 21 I.L.M 58 (entered into force 21 October 1986) [African Charter].

  • 7)

    16 December 1966993 U.N.T.S. 3 6 ILM 368 (entered into force 3 January 1976) [ICESCR].

  • 8)

    25 June 1958362 U.N.T.S. 31 (entered into force 15 June 1960).

  • 9)

    14 December 1960429 U.N.T.S. 93 (entered into force 22 May 1962).

  • 10)

    18 December 19791249 U.N.T.S. 13 (entered into force 3 September 1981) [CEDAW].

  • 11)

    7 March 1966660 U.N.T.S. 195 (entered into force 4 January 1969) [CERD].

  • 14)

    18 April 1961500 U.N.T.S. 95 23 UST 3227; 55 AJIL 1064 (entered into force 24 April 1964).

  • 15)

    24 April 1963596 U.N.T.S. 261 21 UST 77 (entered into force 19 March 1967).

  • 16)

    27 January 1967610 U.N.T.S. 205 (entered into force 10 October 1967).

  • 17)

    29 April 1958516 U.N.T.S. 205 (entered into force 10 September 1964).

  • 18)

    1 July 1968729 U.N.T.S. 161 (entered into force 5 March 1970).

  • 42)

    In May 2008for example female students writing the WAEC Examinations were held back in the examination centres for two nights because they could not go to their homes after taking their examinations because of the Night Masquerade. See T. Benson ‘Fashola Please Stop this Oro Practice in Ikorodu’ (My Naija News 16 July 2008) available online at http://www.mynaijanews.com/content/view/1772/138/ (accessed 15 January 2012).

  • 57)

    26 June 19451 U.N.T.S XVI (entered into force 24 October 1945). One of the purposes and principles of the United Nations as reflected in Article 1(3) is “to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic social cultural or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race sex language or religion.”

  • 66)

    20 November 19891577 U.N.T.S. 3 28 I.L.M. 1456 (entered into force 2 September 1990) [CRC] at Articles 17 20 23 24 29 30 and 31.

  • 67)

    18 December 19902220 U.N.T.S. 93 (entered into force 1 July 2003) [MWC] at Articles 31 43 and 45.

  • 68)

    GA Res 47/135 (1993) UN GAOR Supp. No. 49 at 210 UN Doc. A/47/49 (1993) [Persons Belonging to Minorities] at Articles 1 2 and 4.

  • 70)

    17 November 1988OAS Treaty Series 69 28 I.L.M. 156 (entered into force 16 November 1999).

  • 74)

    CSCE 21 November 199130 I.L.M. 193.

  • 75)

    1 February 1995C.E.T.S. 157 (entered into force 1 February 1998).

  • 76)

    3 May 1996E.T.S 163 (entered into force1 July 1999).

  • 95)

    (2008) All FWLR (Pt. 433) at 1293.

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An Appraisal of the Night Masquerade Festival and Discrimination against Women in Nigeria from an International Human Rights Law Perspective

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References

1)

16 December 1966999 U.N.T.S. 171 Articles 9–14 Can T.S. 1976 No. 47 6 I.L.M. 368 (entered into force 23 March 1976) [ICCPR].

3)

GA Res 217A(III) (1948) UN GAOR 3d Sess. Supp. No. 13 UN Doc. A/810 (1948) [Universal Declaration].

4)

4 November 1950213 U.N.T.S. 221 at 223 Eur. T.S. 5 [ECHR].

5)

22 November 19691144 U.N.T.S. 123 9 I.L.M. 99 (entered into force 18 July 1978) [ACHR].

6)

27 June 19811520 U.N.T.S. 217 21 I.L.M 58 (entered into force 21 October 1986) [African Charter].

7)

16 December 1966993 U.N.T.S. 3 6 ILM 368 (entered into force 3 January 1976) [ICESCR].

8)

25 June 1958362 U.N.T.S. 31 (entered into force 15 June 1960).

9)

14 December 1960429 U.N.T.S. 93 (entered into force 22 May 1962).

10)

18 December 19791249 U.N.T.S. 13 (entered into force 3 September 1981) [CEDAW].

11)

7 March 1966660 U.N.T.S. 195 (entered into force 4 January 1969) [CERD].

14)

18 April 1961500 U.N.T.S. 95 23 UST 3227; 55 AJIL 1064 (entered into force 24 April 1964).

15)

24 April 1963596 U.N.T.S. 261 21 UST 77 (entered into force 19 March 1967).

16)

27 January 1967610 U.N.T.S. 205 (entered into force 10 October 1967).

17)

29 April 1958516 U.N.T.S. 205 (entered into force 10 September 1964).

18)

1 July 1968729 U.N.T.S. 161 (entered into force 5 March 1970).

42)

In May 2008for example female students writing the WAEC Examinations were held back in the examination centres for two nights because they could not go to their homes after taking their examinations because of the Night Masquerade. See T. Benson ‘Fashola Please Stop this Oro Practice in Ikorodu’ (My Naija News 16 July 2008) available online at http://www.mynaijanews.com/content/view/1772/138/ (accessed 15 January 2012).

57)

26 June 19451 U.N.T.S XVI (entered into force 24 October 1945). One of the purposes and principles of the United Nations as reflected in Article 1(3) is “to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic social cultural or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race sex language or religion.”

66)

20 November 19891577 U.N.T.S. 3 28 I.L.M. 1456 (entered into force 2 September 1990) [CRC] at Articles 17 20 23 24 29 30 and 31.

67)

18 December 19902220 U.N.T.S. 93 (entered into force 1 July 2003) [MWC] at Articles 31 43 and 45.

68)

GA Res 47/135 (1993) UN GAOR Supp. No. 49 at 210 UN Doc. A/47/49 (1993) [Persons Belonging to Minorities] at Articles 1 2 and 4.

70)

17 November 1988OAS Treaty Series 69 28 I.L.M. 156 (entered into force 16 November 1999).

74)

CSCE 21 November 199130 I.L.M. 193.

75)

1 February 1995C.E.T.S. 157 (entered into force 1 February 1998).

76)

3 May 1996E.T.S 163 (entered into force1 July 1999).

95)

(2008) All FWLR (Pt. 433) at 1293.

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