A PERSPECTIVE ON LABOUR LAW IN NIGERIA VIA THE CONSTITUTION

Section 17 of Chapter 2 provides that the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that children, young persons and the aged are protected against any exploitation whatsoever, and against moral and material neglect.

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

5/20/2022 2 min read

A PERSPECTIVE TO LABOUR LAW IN NIGERIA VIA THE CONSTITUTION

Description: The article provides a perspective to labour law in relation to the rights of a child via the Constitution.

The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) is the supreme law of the nation, automatically; any other law inconsistent with its provision will be void to the extent of its inconsistency. Chapter two of the Constitution provides for Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. Section 17 of the aforementioned Chapter provides that the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that children, young persons and the aged are protected against any exploitation whatsoever, and against moral and material neglect. This exhibits that the constitution gives much recognition to right of a child and opposes child labour in whichever form.

Also, the Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution provides thus:

“(1) Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly - (a) no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment; (b) no person shall he held in slavery or servitude; and (c) no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.”

Of course, this covers children also, hence, this in some way protect the rights of a child. Section 34(1) (c) most especially condemns child labour by securing the right not be required to perform forced or compulsory labour except if such forced or compulsory labour in tandem with the exceptions provided in Section 34 (2).

Based on the exceptions in Section 34 (2) of the constitution, forced or compulsory labour shall not include the following:

(a) any labour required in consequence of the sentence or order of a court;

(b) any labour required of members of the armed forces of the Federation or the Nigeria Police Force in pursuance of their duties as such;

(c) in the case of persons who have conscientious objections to service in the armed forces of the Federation, any labour required instead of such service;

(d) any labour required which is reasonably necessary in the event of any emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community; or

(e) any labour or service that forms part of -

(i) normal communal or other civic obligations of the well-being of the community.

(ii) such compulsory national service in the armed forces of the Federation as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly, or

(iii) such compulsory national service which forms part of the education and training of citizens of Nigeria as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.

Also, Section 254C of the Constitution confers the National Industrial Court with the power to entertain matters that has to do with child labour, child abuse, human trafficking or any connected matter. The Constitution, with the establishment of the National Industrial Court provides a viable legal mechanism to seek redress when a child’s right is breached or forcefully engaged in any form of labour or any matter incidental to child labour. With efficient avenue to seek justice and deterrence for child labour perpetrator, it is believed that child labour and related menace will reduce.

Verbatim, Section 254C of the Constitution provides thus: “(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 251, 257, 272 and anything contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the National Industrial Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes and matters- (i) connected with or related to child labour, child abuse, human trafficking or any matter connected therewith or related thereto;”.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY: CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

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