10 June 2020
Sunday 7th of June 2020, showcased Calabar the capital city of Cross River state, a sub-national entity in Nigeria’s south-southern geopolitical zone playing host to the tenth edition of the National Animal Rights Day (NARD).
The special NARD 2020 event which held at the Millennium Park popularly called Eleven Eleven (11-11) was observed, ‘to commemorate the death of billions of non-human animals gruesomely murdered by humans for food and experimental purposes, to celebrate the inalienable rights of animals, and to sensitise the Nigerian public against the injustice of violating these fundamental animal rights’, according to Micah Thomas the convener in Calabar.
The event featured speeches, declarations and music performances from animal rights activists/enthusiasts, environmental/ animal rights university scholars, and animal lovers.
Dr Eyimba Maduka of the Department of Philosophy in the University of Calabar (UNICAL) while speaking on animal rights affirmed that non human animals do have rights, he explained if humans insist on eating non human animals then they are saying inadvertently they also want to be eaten discriminately. His words in part, ‘the major question is do animals have rights? Yes, they do… It is a moral right. Stop killing animals, stop inflicting pains on them. If you continue to eat animals, it implies you expect to be eaten tomorrow.’
On his part, Dr Mesembe Edet of the Department of Philosophy in the University of Calabar who has written copiously about animal rights and environmental philosophy, and spoke on the ‘Sanctity of all lives and the need for Recognition of Rights for Animals in Africa’ observed that in Africa, the talk about animal right is a little funny but, noted recently, the discussion is gaining currency. According to Edet who is Associate Professor of Philosophy ‘I believe animals are entitled to rights and would urge that we begin to take animals right in Africa seriously. Time has come for us to begin to treat animals differently from the wicked ways we’ve been treating them in Africa. We need to change our ways.
Continuing Edet said, ‘Humans must not forget that they are animals also. They feel pains, enjoy pleasure as humans. We’ve no basis… Animals are entitled to their rights. Animals have fundamental rights to exist as a species which we must recognise. We must find other ways of providing food for humanity, we must find other ways for conducting researchs etc.’
In the course of the observance of the Day, it was learnt from further presentations that in Nigeria non-human animals have legal rights, and this is enshrined in Section 495 of the Criminal Code which prohibits the killing and subjection to pains, discomfort and suffering of animals to pains, and labour.
However, Efio-Ita Nyok noted during his presentation on the ‘Sociopolitical Implications to Human and Animals Relationship’ disclosed that the challenge with Nigeria’s legal code and its protection of animals right is that ‘it has never been implemented. No Nigerian has ever been convicted and subsequently punished for violating sections of the Criminal Code which penalises the infringement of animals rights’. Nyok called for empathy in humans relationship with non human animals.
Dr Okpokam Asuo on his part called for Nigerians to ‘reconsider our meals’ away from sourcing it primarily from non human animals.
There was music presentations, declarations of commitment, and featuring of placards.