oa Codicillus - Right to freedom of expression and the law of defamation in Nigeria

Volume 48, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0010-020X



Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental human rights that is universally recognised and protected. Indeed the Constitutions of most countries of the world, including Nigeria, have expressly provided for the protection of this right because of its importance and relevance to the enhancement of personal liberty and democracy. The right to freedom of expression is also protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the various regional Instruments and Conventions on human rights, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. However, the right to freedom of expression, like most other rights, is not absolute. There are recognised restrictions and exceptions to this right; one of which is to be found in the law of defamation. Thus the enjoyment of the right to the freedom of expression must take into consideration the right of other citizens to the protection of their reputation. The duty of the Court in this regard, is to strike an acceptable balance between these two conflicting rights; namely the right of the defendant to freedom of expression and the right of the plaintiff to the protection of his reputation.

This Article therefore sets out to examine these two conflicting rights as provided for and protected by law and the role of courts in Nigeria in resolving the conflict so as to do justice between the parties and maintain social equilibrium and harmony.

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