Stronger than the Maxim Gun Law, Human Rights and British Colonial Hegemony in Nigeria Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • AbstractThis article examines the tensions and contradictions in the use of law as an instrument of coercion to consolidate British control in Nigeria and the legitimising rhetoric of human rights and social justice employed within the context of the operation of the law. The article explores the effects of laws introduced mainly to foster British colonial hegemony against the background of the aspiration to guarantee social justice and forge a ‘modern’ regime of rights and liberties for native subjects in the colony. It probes the circumstances that made the rhetoric of rights and liberty imperative for both the colonial regime that employed it to legitimise empire and the African elites who appropriated it to strengthen their demands for representation and self-rule. The aim is not so much to show how the colonial state fell short of its own liberal agenda as to examine the appeal ofthat agenda and the conditions that made it so central to the colonial project.

publication date

  • February 2002

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