PILOT: Partnership Development Project


For several decades, Canada has funded or otherwise supported many human rights, judicial strengthening, institution building, democratization, and poverty alleviation efforts and struggles in Nigeria and in many parts of the rest of the West African sub-continent. Such support/cooperation, the anecdotal evidence suggests, has played an important socio-political role in this sub-region. Yet, the nature, attainments, problems, and prospects of such Canadian-West African human rights cooperation has not been as rigorously studied and widely understood in the scholarly (as opposed to merely the NGO and government) literature as might be expected.

The relevant scholarly literature is thus relatively inadequate. Neither Howard-Hassman’s important 2004 piece on the Canadian intervention regarding the flogging of Bariya Magazu by the authorities in one far Northern Nigerian state (province), nor Sonia Cardenas’ exploration of the various ways in which the Canadian Human Rights Commission has sought to assist national human rights bodies around the world (including in Nigeria) come close to filling this huge gap in the literature (see Howard-Hassman, 2004; Cardenas, 2003).

Similar points can be made concerning “Roundtable on Nigeria” 1998; Feyisetan 1998; Reliefweb 2001; Aiyede 2004; and CIDA 2009. As such, Canadian/West African policymakers, development practitioners, and scholars will benefit significantly from any additional insight into the afore-referenced questions. So will many among the lettered and relevant segments of the Canadian/West African public.


This project is inherently socio-legal and multidisciplinary. Thus, the methodology adopted to execute it reflects this imperative. As such, the deployment of more social studies methods, such as the identification and review of relevant government, international organization (e.g. UN), and civil society documents, the review of relevant information in the mass media, and the conduct of interviews with relevant key informants is accompanied by the identification, selection and analysis of a pool of relevant legal sources, such as human rights legislation, cases, and treaties, and other kinds of international agreements.

The deployment of the more social studies methods that were mentioned above is geared toward developing as full and broad an appreciation and understanding of the actual “living” realities of Canadian/Nigerian human rights cooperation as possible. To this and similar ends, key informants are chosen and interviewed (in Canada, Nigeria, and Geneva), from civil society groups, the ranks of government officials (especially foreign service and justice ministry officers and officials of national human rights institutions), judges, and legislators.

The interview sample is selected purposively, rather than randomly. Purposive sampling is preferred here because of the unacceptably high risk, if random sampling is adopted, of missing most of the valuable evidence that is sought. In-depth unstructured interviews are also preferred as they have proven to be significantly better at eliciting frank and honest responses in the context of human rights research, and because they allow the researcher to offer thicker description and analyses of the relevant phenomena. Interviews in Canada are conducted by a mixed team of Canadian/Nigerian researchers, and interviews in Nigeria are similarly conducted by a mixed Canadian/Nigerian team. This maximises the benefits to the research process of the strengths that each partner brings to the project.

Relevant documents produced by all of the relevant institutions were analysed, including UN reports/records/proceedings, reports produced by relevant government departments, NGO reports, records of legislative proceedings (Hansards), etc. In addition, the major newspapers and relevant academic journals were also canvassed and studied. The identified and selected human rights legislation, cases, and treaties, and other kinds of international agreements were analyzed with the three theoretical apparatuses that frame this study of Canadian/Nigerian cooperation (i.e. the constructivist, sovereignty and human rights, and Baxian TREMF theories). These frameworks guided the analysis of the evidence produced through the interview process. Overall, the approach adopted was by collecting all the relevant evidence (whether primary or secondary) and examining their orientation in the light of the relevant theoretical/policy frameworks. Thus, in stage one, every effort was made to collect all the relevant evidence. In stage two, the collected “data” was analyzed systematically against each of the three theoretical/policy frameworks that guided the study, and then draft papers produced. And in stage three, the results were finally “written up” for publication/dissemination in various forms and fora.

Project Timeline


Workshop on Canadian- Nigerian Human Rights Cooperation (1999-2011) held on May 8-10, 2014 at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Osgoode/NIALS/CENSOJ Partnership Development Program Workshop on Canadian-Nigerian Human Rights Engagements: A Critical Assessment held on June 1-2, 2015 at the National Judicial Institute, Airport Road, Abuja.

Key Participants and Speakers

Professor Obiora Okafor, Osgoode Hall Law School

Professor Lorne Sossin, Dean, Osgoode Hall Law School

Professor Annie Bunting, York University

Professor Faisal Bhabha, Osgoode Hall Law School

Professor Paul Ocheje, University of Windsor

Professor Pablo Idahosa, York University

Professor Bruce Ryder, Osgoode Hall Law School

Professor Deji Adekunle, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Professor Dakkas CJ Dakkas, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Dr Cyril Gwam, Nigerian High Commission, UK

Dr. Basil Ugochukwu ,CIGI Canada/ Osgoode Hall Law School

Dr. Ibe Ifeakandu, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Dr. Mosope Fagbongbe, formerly of the University of British Colombia

Dr Udoka Owie, Baze University, Abuja

Dr. Izevbuwa Ikhimiukor, formerly of Middlesex University

Zachary Lomo, Osgoode Hall Law School

Terrine Friday, Osgoode Hall Law School

Uche Ngwaba, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Jake Okechukwu Effoduh, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Saratu Bissallah- Alao, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Ijeoma Anozie, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Rahina Zarma, National Commission for Refugees

Supreme Court Justice of Nigeria, Justice Chima Centus Nweze


Professor Obiora Okafor (Principal Investigator)

Professor Dakas C.J. Dakas, SAN (Co-Investigator 2011-2014)

Professor Bambo Adewopo (Co-Investigator 2014-2016)

Mr.  Eze Onyekpere (Collaborator )


The project employed one Post-Doctoral Fellow and three PhD student research assistants. This will help bolster the inadequate capacity in Canada in the area of human rights in Nigeria, and Canadian/Nigerian human rights cooperation. It will also help augment capacity in Nigeria in the area of human rights in Canada, and Canadian/Nigerian human rights cooperation. The Post-Doctoral Fellow, who was based at York/Nathanson (as from Year two of the project), served as a coordinator for the five sub-studies on the five sub-themes, so as to facilitate interactive analysis of “data” from each of those sub-studies. She conducted the in-depth theoretical analysis in relation to one of the sub-studies, and supported the partners in their dissemination activities in Year three of this project. The PhD students (who were hired for the three year duration of the project) assisted the lead researchers, co-applicant, and collaborator in the review of literature and documentation; transcription and analysis of interview “data”; and the production of scholarly/policy outputs. One of these PhD student research assistants was based at York/Nathanson, while the others were based at NIALS and the Center for Social Justice (a strategy designed to maximise a theory/practice synthesis).

Outcomes and Deliverables

This pilot enabled partner institutions to undertake a three-year program of team consolidation, collaborative research and joint knowledge mobilization/dissemination that analyzed and theorized the nature, attainments, problems and prospects of Canadian-Nigerian cooperation in the protection of human rights (between 1999, when Nigeria’s current democratic regime was established, and 2011, a convenient cut-off date).

  • This was the first relatively comprehensive publicly available research on such an important subject for Canada, Nigeria, and the world.
  • The research has the potential to make a significant contribution to the scholarly debate on at least three important theoretical frameworks that engage the international protection human rights.
  • The research has provided a relatively comprehensive and systematic trove of data and analysis to policy-makers in Canada, Nigeria, and elsewhere which would not otherwise be available to them.
  • The project has fed into a second broader study that will augment and refine the data/analytical outcomes, and provide an even larger source of scholarly and policy knowledge about a much wider geo-political context.

The deliverables include but are not limited to:

  • First Partnership Development Workshop
  • Second Partnership Development Workshop
  • The Transnational Human Rights Review
  • Visiting Research Trips: Six (6) Research Fellows of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies were engaged as visiting researchers at the Osgoode Hall Law School for this project. They engaged in one or more of the areas mapped out for the study on Canadian-Nigerian Cooperation in Human Rights from 1999 to 2011.
    • Fatima Waziri-Azi, PhD
    • Ibe Ifeakandu, PhD
    • Uche Ngwaba, LLM
    • Ijeoma Anozie, LLM
    • Saratu Bissallah- Alao, LLM
    • Jake Okechukwu Effoduh, MSt.

International Human Rights Engagements In The Global South: The Case Of Canada And Nigeria (1999-2011) Guest Edited By: Obiora Chinedu Okafor, Basil Ugochukwu And Zachary Lomo

Part I – Introduction

Chapter One: Canadian-Nigerian International Human Rights Engagements (1999-2011): An Introduction – Obiora Chinedu Okafor (Osgoode), Basil Ugochukwu (CIGI) and Zachary Lomo (Osgoode)

Part II – Background

Chapter Two: Canada in a World of Human Rights: Ethics, Commitment and Constraints – Basil Ugochukwu (CIGI)

Chapter Three: Nigeria’s Contributions to International Human Rights Praxis – Udoka Owie (Baze University, Abuja)

Part III – Analyzing the Evidence

Chapter Four:  Democratization

(Uchechukwu Ngwaba, McQuarie University, Sydney)

Chapter Five:   Women’s Rights

(Fatima Waziri, NIALS, Abuja and Jake Okechukwu Effoduh, CASADE, Abuja)

Chapter Six: Children’s Rights

(Uchechukwu Ngwaba, McQuarie University, Sydney and Ibe Okegbe Ifeakandu)

Chapter Seven: Economic and Social Rights

(Jake Okechukwu Effoduh, CASADE, Abuja and Saratu Bissallah-Alao, NIALS, Abuja)

Chapter Eight: International Criminal Law and Institutions

(Izevbuwa Kehinde Ikhimiukor, NIALS, Abuja)

Chapter Nine:  Refugee Protection

(Rahina Zarma, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon)

Part IV – The Contributions of the Study

Chapter Ten:    The Nature, Attainments, Problems and Prospects of Canadian-Nigerian Human Rights Engagements: An Analytical Overview

(Obiora Chinedu Okafor, Osgoode)

Chapter Eleven:  Sovereignty and Canadian-Nigerian Human Rights Engagements: Some Theoretical Reflections

(Zachary Lomo, Osgoode)

Chapter Twelve:  Baxian TREMF Anxieties and Patterns of Norm Entrepreneurship in Canadian-Nigerian Human Rights Engagements: A Theoretical Overview

(Obiora Chinedu Okafor, Osgoode)

Part V – Conclusions and Recommendations

Chapter Thirteen: Conclusions and Recommendations

(Obiora Chinedu Okafor, Osgoode; Basil Ugochukwu, CIGI; and Zachary Lomo, Osgoode)

Next steps: Further Study

A larger study will involve four more West African countries, and an appropriate number of additional partner institutions sourced in the main from those countries. It will also continue to be led by York University’s Nathanson Centre for Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security (the Nathanson Centre), and involve the existing partners. What is envisaged in this case is a broadened partnership and larger research and knowledge mobilization project.

An application is being made to the SSHRC Partnership Grant Program to fund this expanded project.