These are rights naturally accruable to every person by virtue of his/her existence as a human being. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under Chapter IV enumerates the following as fundamental human rights:
- Right to life
- Right to dignity of human person
- Right to personal liberty
- Right to fair hearing
- Right to private and family life
- Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
- Right to freedom of expression and the press
- Right to peaceful assembly and association
- Right to freedom of movement
- Right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of ethnic group, place of origin, circumstance of birth, sex, religion or political opinion.
- Right to compensation for property compulsory acquired.
The above rights are classified under chapter IV of the Constitution as Fundamental Rights.
However, there are other rights under Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State policy provided under chapter II of the Constitution. These include the right to:
- Free and compulsory education
- Adequate health care, gainful employment
- Shelter, food etc.
The former are justiciable rights, i.e. citizens could go to court to enforce them if denied. The latter rights are however non-justiciable, i.e. these set of rights are not enforceable in the court. They are aspirations attainable if and when the State has the resources. However, the Commission believes the two sets of rights are both fundamental and complementary. This is because; right to life for instance, is meaningless without gainful employment or food to sustain life in the first place. The Commission has made a strong case for the upgrading of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to Fundamental Rights. Human rights are interdependent, interrelated, indivisible and universal.
For effective performance and result oriented approach to its work, the Commission identified nineteen (19) Thematic Areas of focus. These include:
- Women and Gender Related Matters
- Corruption, Election and Good Governance
- Prison, Police, Detention Centres and Regulatory Agencies
- Environment, Niger-Delta and Development
- Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, Association, Religion and Belief
- Law Reforms and Law Review
- Torture and Extra-Judicial Killing
- Independence of the Judiciary and Access to Justice
- Food and Shelter
- Terrorism and other Related Violence
- Freedom of Expression and the Media
- Human Rights and Business
- Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Refugees, IDPs, Migrants, and Asylum Seekers
- Human Rights Defenders