The fear many Nigerians exhibit when they have any form of contact with law enforcement agents has inspired a human rights/international law expert to launch #KnowYourRightsNigeria app.
Adeola Oyinlola, who is also a UN Peace Ambassador, says the app is meant to raise awareness about human rights issues, as well as help provide users with access to legal services on a pro bono basis.
"Nigerians fear any form of contact with law enforcement agents. This is largely borne out of ignorance of their rights under the law which had been exploited. This also has a nexus to Nigeria's military rule experience spanning over three decades where massive abuse of rights such as illegal detention without trial, execution of accused persons without exhausting judicial remedies, trials without respect for fair hearing, abuse of rights to life, religion, information, privacy, liberty, movement, assembly, among others, were recorded," said Oyinlola.
"#KnowYourRightsNigeria App is about (the) mere pushing of (a) button in our palms to access the scope of our rights, constitutional safeguards and get lawyers to respond to our plight free of charge," he notes.
The app is built in English and Pidgin languages to leverage the growth of mobile technology.
With an estimated over 140 million Nigerians using mobile phones and social media platforms proving more effective for engagement, the app should be a useful tool considering its relative ease of access, the speed of dissemination and the general prevalence of Android and other feature phones.
Oyinlola believes Nigeria's huge population and the high level of ignorance of citizens' rights and other basic laws, such as their constitutional rights, are also factors that would work for the app.
"Given the lack of a collective and institutional memory about the human rights laws that govern people, its damaging effects on all aspects of society, and coupled with its non-availability in a simplified language that the masses understand, Know Your Rights Nigeria App is a clear new approach to these old problems."
Issues that appear prevalent in most of the reports filed through the app so far include fair hearing, freedom of movement and association, bail, rights of an accused person at a police station, child custody issues, rights of children and women, among others.