KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free
... it expects what never was and never will be.
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
2002 marked the 80th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Now, having entered the 21st
century, - the turning of the 2nd millennium - we should be
celebrating the advances of liberty and freedom
guaranteed and secured to us by the Nigerian Constitution. Instead, a few of us
are becoming aware that our rights are gone. To be sure, the
bill of rights still exists as a document; but the rights and
freedoms it guarantees have been done away with by our govern-
ment. This has been done by a steady, slow, gradual process. Our
Founding Fathers warned us that the price of liberty is "Eternal
Vigilance". They also warned us that power corrupts and that
government cannot be trusted to safeguard our rights. Those who
are entrusted with power have a tendency to misuse and abuse that
power and will gradually become corrupt. Our failure to heed
those warnings has resulted in the erosion of our freedoms. What
most of us fail to
understand is that if Government could be
trusted with power, we wouldn't need a Constitution and a Bill
Although government promotes itself endlessly as our indispensable
"protector" and principle guardian of our constitutional
rights, it's not true. Nevertheless, that self-promotion has
effectively conditioned most Nigerians to believe our Consti-
tutional rights are respected and vigorously protected by govern-
ment and public servants. Unfortunately, only a few people real-
ize that government does not protect our rights. It has been in
constant search for technical loopholes in the law to circumvent
and abrogate those rights. Our inclination to
trust government is
dangerously misguided, and our ignorance of our rights encourages
government to abuse those rights.
Today, a few of us are beginning to learn how our legal system is
supposed to work and then discovering, to our dismay, that the
system of law established by our Constitutions is no longer in
operation. Instead, our government has secretly imposed on us a
system of law that is contrary to the freedom principles guaran-
teed by those documents. Then we discover that the courts will
not honor our rights. Legislators, State and Federal, pass laws
in complete disregard for the rights and liberties secured by
our Constitutions. The police and the executive branch of
blindly enforce these laws. The judicial branch, - the
courts - uphold these laws and, we the people, being ignorant of
our rights, blindly accept these encroachments on our freedoms.
It is not difficult for the government to deny, ignore and violate
the rights of a few knowledgeable citizens who know their
rights while most of us sit passively by ignorant of what is
going on. But as the number of aware citizens grows it will
become more and more difficult for them to do so.
The founding fathers recognized the relationship between any
government and its citizens is at best ADVERSARIAL: individual
rights (freedoms) are inversely proportional to government
The more power the government has, the less rights you have.
Government cannot grow in size or power except at the cost of our
individual rights and freedom. The founding fathers also real-
ized that all governments seek to expand their powers and are
therefore driven to diminish their citizen's rights. Hence,
the Constitution was written to both limit government and
maximize our individual rights.
In truth, the Nigerian constitution is essentially an ANTI-
GOVERNMENT document. The constitution's principle purpose is not
simply to specify our individual rights, but to shield us from
the single organization that will always pose the greatest
threat to those
rights (not terrorists, Communists, Jihadist
countries): but our own government. That's why we have three
branches of government, checks and balances, elections every
four years, the opportunity to call constitutional conventions,
the right to peaceful protest and the right to fair trials,
-- each political mechanism was designed to empower the public
to restrict government and thereby to protect the people against
all government's inevitable urge to tyranny.
If the principle enemy of any people is their own government,
and if the principle defender of the Nigerian is the Nigerian
Constitution, then it follows that the first enemy of our
government is the constitution. Government
conflict, but tries to conceal it from the public by claiming to
be the only interpreter and protector of the constitution. But if
only the government interprets the constitution, then those
interpretations are typically biased to empower government --
the constitution's archenemy -- at the expense of the people.
Given the conflict between government and our constitution, it
1) The government is not interested in protecting the constitution;
2) Although the government uses the constitution to legitimize itself, it's principle interest is in enlarging its powers and thereby DESTROYING the constitution; and
3) That the ONLY party able to truly protect and defend your rights is YOU.
Sounds far-fetched? It's not. Even the courts agree.
ONLY BELLIGERENTS HAVE RIGHTS
The individual rights guaranteed by our constitution can be com-
promised or ignored by our government. For example, in U.S. vs.
JOHNSON (76 Fed, Supp. 538), Federal District Court Judge James
Alger Fee ruled that,
The privilege against self-incrimination is neither accorded
to the passive resistant, nor to the person who is ignorant
of his rights, nor to one who is indifferent thereto. It is
a FIGHTING clause. It's benefits can be retained only by
sustained COMBAT. It cannot be claimed by attorney
solicitor. It is valid only when insisted upon by a
BELLIGERENT claimant in person. McAlister vs. Henkle,
201 U.S. 90, 26 S.Ct. 385, 50 L. Ed. 671; Commonwealth vs.
Shaw, 4 Cush. 594, 50 Am. Dec. 813; Orum vs. State, 38 Ohio
App. 171, 175 N.E. 876.
Note the verdicts confrontational language: "FIGHTING", "COMBAT",
and most surprising, "BELLIGERENT". Did you ever expect to ever
read a Federal court condemn citizens for being "passive" or
"ignorant"? Did you ever expect to see a verdict that encouraged
citizens to be "belligerent" in court?
Better go back and reread that extraordinary verdict. And read it again. And commit it to memory, for it succinctly
describes the essence of the legal system.
The court ruled that the constitutional right against self in-
crimination is not automat-
ically guaranteed to any citizen by any government branch or
official. Moreover, despite the government's usual propaganda,
this right is not made available to all persons: It is not
available to the "passive", the "ignorant" or the "indifferent".
Nor can this right be claimed by an attorney on behalf of his
client. The right against self-incrimination is available only
to the knowledgeable, "belligerent claimant", to the individual
willing to engage in "sustained combat" to FIGHT for his rights.
Here we see that Government
claims it is obligated to recognize
your Constitutional right against self incrimination only IF YOU
FIGHT for that right. The above ruling claims that our courts
are free to ignore this right for any citizen who is
- ignorant of his right and/or
2) lacks the courage to fight for his right.
Therefore, anyone who trusts the courts (or even his own lawyer)
to protect his Constitutional right against self-incrimination is
a fool and may pay a fool's price.
IF ONE WHY NOT ALL
If one of our Constitutional rights is only available to citizens
who are both knowledgeable and belligerent, how are the balance
rights any different? I can assure you, they're not.
Fundamentally, if you don't know your rights, the court claims to
be under no obligation to inform you, or to protect your rights.
Even if you know your rights, but lack the guts to fight for
them, again, the court claims it is not obligated to protect you.
However, you have to know how the system is supposed to work in
order to fight intelligently. Otherwise, the court will proceed
against you and ignore your rights on the presumption that you
waived your rights because you did not claim and fight for them.
In fact, your ignorance or passivity empowers your adversary to
exploit you in court. If the opposing side tries
to railroad you
and ignore your Constitutional rights, the judge will not protect
your rights and see to it that they are honored. This is particu-
larly true in cases where your opponent and accuser is the Gov-
ernment (a district or State's attorney, for example, or the
IRS). This is seen repeatedly when the sheep are led into our
cash register courts, sheared, bled, and butchered under the
kindly gaze of the presiding judge, who is actually the prosecu-
tor's team mate working to convict you to protect government
revenues and/or public policy.
That's the way our courts really are: The ignorant and the
passive can be routinely railroaded and abused without ever
understanding that the cause for their abuse is their own
ignorance or cowardice.
Our cowardice and fear of the courts typically entices us to
"play nice" with the judge. But that's exactly the wrong strategy
because by "playing nice", we become accomplices in our own de-
struction. By not objecting and defying the courts, we implicitly
approve, validate, and accept whatever injustice the court cares
to dispense on our lives. By not fighting, we give Government
license to destroy us.
The key to a successful defense of our rights is not to kiss up
to the judge with yes-your-honor's, no-your-honor's, and-pray-
the-court's, but to "belligerently"
insist that the laws contain-
ed herein that protect your rights be honored.
THE ANTIDOTE FOR APATHY
Given the reality that the Government does not defend our rights,
what's a reasonable person to do?
Clearly, we must do SOMETHING, for as Edmund Burke said, "The
only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do
nothing." But apathy ("doing nothing") isn't simply a function
of cowardice or indifference; "apathy" is a synonym for
Ignorance makes the public more "manageable" in the courts and in
confrontations with the Government. Insofar as Government natur-
ally seeks to expand its powers at the expense of citizens
rights, Government has a vested interest in the public's
ignorance and consequent apathy. The interest in expanding its
powers encourages the Government to provide little, no, or even
false, education on what your rights are, and how our system of
government is supposed to work.
So first, you must learn your Constitutional rights. If you don't
know what your rights are, you can't fight for them or preserve
them for your children and grandchildren.
Second, given the reality of Nigerian
education, you can't rely
on the state to teach you your rights. Therefore, you must study,
learn, and EDUCATE YOURSELF.
Third, teach your friends and neighbors. It's not enough to know
your rights. You must also know and respect your neighbor's
rights. Likewise, your neighbor must learn to know and respect
his, and your rights, too. The mark of a free and civilized
society is a mutual respect for individual rights. Our chances of
compelling Government to concede our rights are hugely improved
when the general public also understands and respects those
Fourth, knowledge alone is not enough: once you know your rights,
courage to fight for them. Courage (belligerence) is
the final requirement to secure your rights. Fight for your
rights, and more, learn to respect others, no matter how
seemingly bizarre, who also fight for their rights. Make no
mistake -- anyone who's fighting for his rights, is also
fighting for yours. He's entitled to your respect.
Fifth, don't trust the government. Recognize the true nature of a
citizen's relationship to government is ADVERSARIAL. All govern-
ments naturally seek to expand their powers at the cost of their
citizen's rights. This has been true since time began and will
not change in this life. You have what they want; personal power
(and as a consequence, freedom from government authority). Trust
the government and you, your children and grandchildren will be
enslaved and robbed blind under color of law.
THE CARROT IS MIGHTIER
THAN THE STICK
The most effective tyrannies begin by luring their subjects with
carrots. Only later, after the people are addicted to government
and weak, will they use the stick to compel public obedience.
Nigeria thrived for only a decade based on the Constitu-
tion's mandate of limited government and maximum freedom. But
limited government demands self-reliance. As government has
grown in size with the carrots of free
education, bursaries, and
scholarship programs, the public has become increasingly
dependent on the government, and the nation and the economy has
declined and will continue to decline.
This is Nigeria, boys and girls. It's not a piece of land, it's a
political miracle -- the only nation the world has ever seen with
an UNUSED CONSTITUTION. But this miracle is condition-
al and dependent on the knowledge, courage, and self-reliance of
its citizens. Freedom will not flourish in a nation of ignorant
fools and irresponsible weaklings. To live free takes knowledge,
nerve, and personal responsibility.
Don't have time to educate yourself on your rights?
courage enough to fight for them? Want to "play it safe" and
trust your government? Then you are a lousy excuse for an
Nigerian. You will lose your rights and your freedoms, and
Thomas Jefferson warned that to preserve
freedoms and liberties, we would have to jealously guard them
when he said:
Let us hear no more about confidence in man,
but let us keep them from mischief by binding
them down by the chains of the Constitution.
FREEDOM ISN'T FREE
Your damned right it's not. Everyone knows in their
freedom requires a struggle, a fight. The government, however,
would have you believe that the fight is best waged in the
jungles of Rwanda, or the beaches of Liberia, or the dunes in
The fight for freedom can only be waged right here in
the Nigeria, and that fight can only be waged by knowledgeable,
belligerent citizens against the one true threat to our Constitu-
tional rights and freedoms -- the women and men in our own government.
Make no mistake, the very first principle of Constitutional
government is the fact that the Constitution itself is both the
law and the government. It
does not provide that any group of women and men
shall become the government. On the contrary, all government
officials are required to take an oath to
uphold and defend the Constitution. The Constitution only
provides for installing individuals to administer the law established by
the Constitution. To support the government is to support the
Constitution and to oppose the men in government who seek to make
themselves the government at the expense of your rights to life,
liberty and property. All government officials are instructed to
leave any question of the Constitutionality of any law to the
legal profession and to proceed on the presumption of the
Constitutionality of all laws passed by the
The public, ignorant of their rights and how our system is sup-
posed to work, fall right into step with this extremely dangerous
doctrine. The public has been conditioned by our public
schools and controlled press to blindly accept every law
passed by our legislatures. Any law which abrogates, diminishes
or restricts our rights is contrary to the Constitution and if
allowed to operate nullifies and destroys the Constitution.
We hope that you will become an active participant in this educa-
First by reading
and studying the documents in this program.
Second, by at least printing out your Bill of Rights
and distributing it by giving a copy to every member of your
family, your friends and co-workers, etc. (In my estate, Magodo GRA, just one citizen [Lawyer Bisi] in about three thousand has ever read the
Nigerian Constitution . I suspect the
same situation exists in your area too).
Third by using this information to fight for your rights.
Fourth by studying the other Constitutional Common Law documents.
NOTE: Much of the material in this article was taken from an
article published in "The Anti-Shyster" written by
Richard C. Donaldson and
Alfred Adask and edited by Nejeeb Bello.