Since the beginning of civilization, man has always been motivated by the need to make progress and better the lives of fellow mankind by exploring the natural environment. It is indisputable that the natural environment before the advent of environmental degradation, created unlimited opportunities for development and economic sufficiency of the inhabitants or the populace, but with the advent of environmental degradation, the inhabitants have been denied these opportunities and made to languish in abject poverty.
In recognition of the dangers posed by environmental degradation, the international community and the Nigerian government have put in place various laws to combat environmental degradation, while the various environmental laws in Nigeria and that of the international community (international legal instrument) in combating environmental degradations intended to yield encouraging result by enhancing environmental sustainability. The recalcitrant attitude of those involved in environmental degradation has continued to attenuate environmental laws with the government and its agency indirectly collaborating in the act of flouting environmental laws.
Unfortunately, the existing law legal mechanism in place have done little or nothing to eradicate this menace of environmental degradation. Environmental degradation continues to evolve everyday and everywhere with no end in sight of how this crime can be checked.
Thus this thesis intends to appraise how environmental degradation constitutes an indictment to human right and environmental laws. It also aims to serve as a theoretical framework for the review and harmonization of the relevant municipal and legal instruments. Similarly international agency/corporation in combating environmental degradation will not be left out.
Hence, it is imperative to give a brief description or definition of environmental degradation.
- Environmental Degradation
Before environmental degradation is considered we must first of all know what is environment or what constitutes the environment.
Environment is the natural world in which people, animals and plants live. The Black’s Law Dictionary also defines it as the totality of physical, economic, cultural, aesthetic and social circumstances and factors which surround and affect the desirability of value of property and which also affect the quality of life of people’s lives. Under the Nigeria law, “environment” includes water, air, land and all plants and human beings or animals living therein and the inter-relationship which exist among these or any of them. Therefore Environmental Degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of the ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife.
Environmental degradation is one of the ten threats officially cautioned by the high level threat panel of the United Nations. Therefore the importance and relevance of the environment cannot be over-emphasized, the environment is a complex and delicate system that when properly managed and harnessed can be geared to productive domestic, aesthetic and even spiritual benefit but when poorly managed could predictably be hazardous not only to human survival, but the survival of all living things. It is therefore inferable that the environment is the physical foundation upon which survival rests.
It is however sad to note that over the years, the environment has been greatly threatened with adverse and disastrous effects on human habitation and survival, which has reflected in the World Bank report. More than 30,000 people die each day globally, short of their predestined life span due to environmental degradation and pollution. In a year, 108 million people die as a result of environmental degradation and pollution. Further research shows that between 1990 and 2009, which has a period of 19 years, about 7.3 million people died worldwide due to environmental degradation and pollution. Therefore it constitutes a threat to the existence of mankind and needs to be checked by all the countries and organizations in the globe.
The Emergence of Environmental Degradation
Environmental degradation can be traced back to the garden of Eden, Jehovah God created a perfect world and life for man, but due to the disobedience of man (Adam and Eve), Jehovah God sent them out from the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he (man) was taken. Noah also in the Holy Bible following God’s instructions constructed a gigantic ark (vessel, and used tar (a product of petroleum) to make it water tight, also the streets of Babylon were paved with bitumen and the walls of Jericho were bonded with it (tar). Thus, oil, gas and other forms of energy existed before the Christian Era. It can therefore be gleaned from the above that exploration, exploitation and pollution of the environment also predate the Christian era.
The oil era began when in 1859, Edwin L. Drake, a retired railroad conductor, drilled the first oil wells near Titusville, Pennsylvania, USA. As a result of the importance of crude oil in the world and the industrial revolution that took place in Europe a lot of multi-national oil companies were formed to prospect for crude oil. Thus this led to the building of oil wells in virtually all part of the globe as stated by Professor A. L. Atsegbua:
Oil is found and produced in particularly all parts of the world: in north and south America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, the Far East, Australia, Europe, the Former Soviet Union, North and West Africa.
Environmental degradation result when natural habitats are destroyed or natural resources are depleted, or the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of the ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife.
Flowing from the above it can therefore be gleaned that there cannot be oil exploration or exploitation without environmental degradation, although environmental degradation takes various forms, oil pollution and gas flaring constitute a major threat to the existence of man, flora and fauna and in extension the environment in general. For example, eighty-plus years after the abandonment of Wallaroo Mines (Kadina, South Australia), Mosses remain the only vegetation at some sports of the site’s grounds. Thus, environmental degradation and pollution, whether from oil spillages and gas flaring or as a result of exploration or exploitation is a serious threat to the existence of man, flora and fauna and to the entire environment.
Emergence of Environmental Degradation in Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria
The major environmental degradation in Niger-Delta region of Nigeria is a result of oil and gas exploration, though there are other forms of degradation in the country.
Oil was first discovered in 1956 at Oloibiri in what is now Bayelsa state and Afam, in Rivers State. Since then oil and gas have been discovered and explored in all the states constituting the Niger-delta state and as a result of the large deposition of crude oil in the region. In accordance with government’s policy of increasing the pace of exploration and ensuring that the country was not over dependent on one oil company, thus a lot of international oil companies were granted exploration licenses about the same time. Some of the oil companies that benefited from the grant are: Nigerian Gulf Oil Company, Shell Petroleum, Texaco, Mobil producing, Chevron, Agip, and Elf, etc.
It was rightly stated by Professor L. A. Atsegbua that,
Oil exploration and production has a high environment cost on the oil producing areas of the Niger-Delta. Oil spills kill fish and agricultural crops and pollute water with serious effects for the communities and families affected.
The exploration and exploitation of the Niger-Delta environment which is one of the world’s largest wetlands, and the largest in Africa by these multinational oil companies and the encouragement offered them by the Nigerian Lax Environmental Laws have made many communities in the Niger-Delta to believe that oil and gas have thus been a curse to many inhabitants of the area.
According to the official estimates of the NNPC, based on the quantities reported by the operating companies, approximately 2,300 cubic metres of oil are spilled in 300 separate incidents annually. It can be safely assumed that, due to under reporting, the real figure is substantially higher: conservative estimates place it at up to ten times higher.
It has been reported that most international oil companies, especially the Shell Petroleum, used outmoded and outdated materials in their operations in Ogoniland, thereby endangering the lives of the inhabitant, flora and fauna and the environment at large.
According to the statistics available in the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) indicate that between 1976 and 1996 a total of 4,835 incidents resulted in the spillage of at least 2,446,322 barrels of which an estimated 1,896,930 barrels, that is, 77 percent were lost to the environment. Nigeria’s largest spill was an offshore well blowout in January 1980 when at least 200,000 barrels of oil, according to oil industry sources, spewed into the Atlantic Ocean from a Texaco facility and destroyed 340 hectares of Mangroves.
The Department of Petroleum Resources estimates were that more than 400,000 barrels were spilled in this incident. Mangrove forest is particularly vulnerable to oil spills, because the soil soaks up the oil like a sponge and re-releases it every rainy season.
Two serious spills took place in early 1998. On January 12, 1998, a major spill of more than 40,000 barrels of crude oil leaked from the pipeline linking Mobil’s Idoho platform with its Qua Iboe onshore terminal in Akwa Ibom State. Mobil estimated that more than 90 percent of the oil had dispersed or evaporated naturally, though the spill traveled hundreds of kilometers further than expected, and some 500 barrels washed ashore by the end of February 1998, about 140,000 claims for compensation had been submitted from individuals or groups totaling an estimated US $100 million. About twenty communities, with a total population of about one million, were considered to be the worst hit, especially at the mouth of the Pennington River.
In October 17, 1998, as a result of the severe scarcity of fuel in Nigeria, the locals of Jesse town in Delta state found an avenue of making quick money from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) petroleum pipeline that was left open by vandals, they went in droves to “fetch” petrol for sale, defying all warnings of the danger involved in such activity. The result was a massive explosion that claimed over 1000 lives including women, children and babies. The resultant fire burned for days emitting harmful smoke and petroleum gases into the environment and the destruction of all forms of lives in the immediate vicinity of the incident. It is pertinent to know that until now the Jesse town and its environment is yet to recover from this incident.
Similarly, the local and foreign media widely reported the NNPC pipeline explosion in Ilado village that occurred on Friday, May 12, 2006 leaving over 200 persons dead with some corpses floating in the nearby river. Environmental degradation whether on the part of the multi-national oil companies or on the part of the Nigeria own oil company (NNPC) has never been reported to have been cleaned.
There have been a lot of oil spillages in Niger Delta and the unreported cases outnumbered the reported once. A case study has shown that oil spillage had occurred in virtually all parts of the Niger Delta with Lagos not being an exception. The Nation reported that independent investigators believed that the pipelines gave way due to alleged lack of maintenance, and as a result, the pipelines allegedly emitted crude oil into the environment of the host community and other surrounding communities.
More than twelve years after the 1992 oil spill incident, the people are still alleging that the situation in Opobo community where the spill occurred is still deteriorating. The inhabitants claimed that the oil industry has never cleaned any of the spills thoroughly as a result the spill affected the occupation of the local people tremendously, they could no longer farm and fish as they used to do.
It is estimated by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, that between 1976, and 1990, the Niger-Delta Region experienced 2676 reported cases of oil spillages. Green Peace estimates that between 1976 and 1991, there were almost 3000 oil spills, averaging 700 barrels each. It can therefore be gleaned from all the above that the Niger-Delta ecosystem and environment have been greatly distorted and basterdised as a result of oil spills that have never been cleaned.
Gas flaring is another source of environmental degradation brought about by the activities of oil corporations. In Orugbiri a small settlement not larger than 100 metres in length, two flaring sites exist therein. This location contradicts the rule that flares are to be located far from villages to avoid gas flaring which is dangerous to health. More especially medical research has confirmed that those living near gas flaring sites stand the risk of developing respiratory diseases.
The Shell Petroleum has also been involved in the practice of canalization in Ogoniland. Canals are created to drain an area from drilling and pipe laying or to facilitate the access of drilling and other production equipment to mining sites. These channels alter the ecology of the areas by flooding fresh water with saline water, which destroys plants and aquatic animals which cannot stand the salinity. It was reported that in Ikoriba, Rivers State of Nigeria, a four kilometer canal constructed by Shell Petroleum has been threatening the fresh water forest in that area.
Canalization has generally altered the flood pattern of the Niger-Delta area, resulting in the perennial flood of the plains, which has been well drained before the flooding.
Dogo recounted that in 1995 alone, most communities in Sagbama, Ekeremai, Yenagoa, Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas of Rivers and Bayelsa State were under flood for three months.
Another prominent source of environmental pollution in Ogoniland is oil spillage. Oil spillage often occurs when some weak and outdated wells and pipelines, which have been under intense pressure blow-out and cause oil to escape in furious speed to adjoining lands, thereby leaving large areas submerged. It has also been reported that there was an oil spillage in Ejanmah Ebubu Community in 1970 which destroyed kilometers of virgin land in Ogoniland and turned the area into a barren land. There was also the Funlwa oil spillage, which involved Texaco, one of whose oil wells blew out and led to the spilling of 400,000 barrels of crude oil into the coastal waters.
Similarly, there had also been spillage along Brass-Ogada oil pipeline, 1983, 1991 and 1995 in which fire erupted, claiming the lives of some workers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Gas flaring or natural gas flaring had led to an increase in the climatic temperature of gas producing communities and destruction of the biotic life in such areas, and industrial gases have also been identified as threat to the protective ozone layer, which shields life from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. The layer is already deteriorating from the effects of increased global temperatures and chlorofluorocarbons found in aerosol sprays and the like. The world temperatures are reported to be increasing as a result of the build-up of carbon dioxide from gas flaring and other gases from man-made resources such as power plants and automobiles. Acid rains that result from gas flaring are a nightmare to those who live near industries that generate such toxic emissions. It has also been reported that more than 11 million hectares of forest are destroyed every year by acid rain, thereby making farming and fishing, which are the major occupation of the inhabitants almost impracticable. The discharge of industrial waste effluents into streams have been known to kill marine life and damage crops irrigated with water from such streams. Similarly the same result occurs from the indiscriminate and deliberate dumping of toxic chemicals into streams that kill fish and endanger all other life forms including humans in the process.
Oil producing areas in Nigeria have been identified as danger zones of pollution arising from toxic wastes and high incidents of birth defects and cancer are becoming more rampant in Niger-Delta areas as a result of gas pollution from the gas flaring activities of oil companies.
From the light of the above, I make bold to say that as a result of gas flaring acid rain, global warming, oil spillages, farming and fishing which are the major or primary occupation of the inhabitants of Niger-Delta have been made impracticable and their life expectancy of the people reduced and placed in jeopardy.
1.3 Classification of Environmental Degradation
As earlier stated the term “environmental degradation” is more properly restricted to describing the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water, and soil, the destruction of ecosystems, and the extinction of wildlife. Thus in the light of the above, environmental degradation is therefore classified into three categories, namely;
- Air degradation
- Land degradation
- Water degradation
The air is degraded when gas is flared by these oil corporations operating in the region, for example in Orugbiri, a small settlement not larger than 100 metres in length, two flaring sites exists therein. Also, acid rain resulting from gas flaring pollutes water, destroys fertility of agricultural land, causes skin irritation and easily corrodes the roots of houses. It is disheartening that a medical research has confirmed that those living near gas flaring sites stand the risk of developing respiratory diseases.
In Niger-Delta area of Nigeria, the major land degradation faced is the persistent oil spillages in the oil producing communities which have been reported to have destroyed more than one million hectares of forest. The indiscriminate dumping of exhausted oil wells and the canalization of lands by Shell petroleum has adhered the flood pattern of the Delta, resulting in the perennial flood of the plains, which has been well drained before the flooding. This flooding result in leaching of the soil nutrient. For example it has been reported that there was an oil spillage in 1970 which destroyed kilometres of Virgin land in Ogoniland and burned the area into a barren land.
Oil spillages also destroys aquatic life when it occurs in fresh waters in the Niger-Delta wetland, thereby placing fish farm in jeopardy. It is also well known that the people of the area depend solely on these rivers for their drinking and cooking water that is being degraded. Nigeria’s largest spill was an offshore well blown out in January 1980 when at least 200,000 barrels of oil, according to oil industry sources, spewed into the Atlantic Ocean from a Texaco facility. Thus as was rightly stated by environmentalist, Mr Al Gore, when he said:
It is the third world where the effects of water pollution are most keenly of death from cholera, typhoid, dysentery and diarrhea from both viral and bacteriological sources”.
Similarly, Professor Ambrose Alli also said:
as a result of oil losses… surface water and river courses are invariably contaminated, and polluted rendering water undrinkable and the aquatic life is destroyed. The result is great hardship for the inhabitants who become impoverished and deprived. The unfortunate citizens are therefore compelled to emigrate to other towns and villages in search of a decent life.
However, it can be summed up from the light of the above classifications that the lives of the Niger-Delta people have been placed in jeopardy with the government of Nigeria leaving the people to their fate while embracing the profit and benefit that oil from the area offers.
1.4 Notable Forms of Environmental Degradation
Environmental degradation (that is, oil spillages oil and gas leakages and gas flaring) is a world wide controllable problem. Some major oil spill world over are:
Blowout of the exploratory well 1xtoc 1 in 1979, in the Gulf of Mexico. Total spilled is 500,000,000 litres.
Blowout of a platform in a well in the Persian Gulf in 1983, Total spilled is 300,000,000 liters.
Deliberate release in 1991, in the Persian Gulf. Total spilled is 900,000,000 liters.
In the course of transporting oil, a lot of tankers spills and ships carrying oils have also sank in the ocean, for example oil tanker “Erika” sank near Penmarch point, France, December 13, 1999.
In the Niger-Delta area of Nigeria where oil and gas production is mainly concentrated some of the world’s largest wetlands, and the largest in Africa; it encompasses over 20,000 square kilometers and has the high diversity typical for extensive swamp and forest areas, with many unique species of plants and animals.
Oil exploration and gas production has a high level of environmental cost on the oil producing areas of the Niger Delta. Oil flaring in Nigeria contributed a measurable percentage of the world’s total emissions of greenhouse gases; due to the low efficiency of many of the flares, much of the gas is released as methane.
According to the official estimates of the NNPC based on the quantities reported by the operating companies approximately 2,300 cubic meters annually are spilled. It can be safely assumed that due to under reporting the real figure is substantially higher; conservative estimates place it at up to ten times high.
Statistics from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) indicate that between 1976 and 1996 a total of 4,835 incidents resulted in the spillage of at least 2,446,322 barrels of which an estimated 1,896,930 barrels that is 77 percent were lost to the environment. Nigeria’s largest spill was an offshore well blowout in January 1980 when at least 200,000 barrels of oil, according to oil industry sources, spewed into the Atlantic Ocean from a Texaco facility and destroyed 340 hectares of mangroves. Department of Petroleum Resources estimates were that more than 400,000 barrels were spilled in this incident. Mangrove forest is particularly vulnerable to oil spills because the soil soaks up the oil like a sponge and re-releases it every rainy season.
Two serious spills took place in early 1998. On January 12, 1998, a major spill of more than 40,000 barrels of crude oil leaked from the pipeline linking Mobil’s Idoho platform with its Qua Ihoe onshore terminal in Akwa Ibom state. Mobil estimated that more than 90 percent of the oil had dispersed or evaporated naturally though the spill travelled hundreds of kilometers further than expected and some 500 barrels washed ashore.
By the end of February 1998, about 14,000 claims for compensation had been submitted from individuals or groups, totaling an estimated US $100 million. About twenty communities, with a total population of about one million were considered to be the worst hit, especially at the mouth of the Pennighton River.
Gas flaring, gas leakage or escapes are other sources of environmental pollution brought about by the activities of oil corporations. In Orugbiri a small settlement not larger than 100 meters in length, two flaring sites exist therein. This contradicts the rule that flares are to be located for from villages to avoid gas flaring which is dangerous to health on one hand and the ultimate rule that gas flaring should be stopped in all forms.
It will interest all to note that despite the various conventions or treaties banning gas flaring to which Nigeria is signatory to gas is still very much flared in Niger Delta, and it is dangerous to health. More especially, medical research has confirmed that those living near gas flaring sites stand the risk of developing respiratory diseases.
Acid rain resulting from gas flaring pollutes water, causes skin irritation, easily corrodes the roofs of houses. Lamentably far back in 1998, eleven years ago it was reported that more than 11 million hectares of forest are destroyed every year by acid rain.
As a result of the high build up of carbon dioxide (CO2) principally and other trace gases – nitrous oxide (N2). ,methane (CH4 better known as natural gas), tropospheric ozone (O3) and the fully-halogenated chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) etc, which are quite visible in Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
Scientists are concerned that these greenhouse gases may soon be increased by human actions to levels harmful to life on earth. True enough Nigeria is already in warm (hot) climate, what would it be like for the survival of man, animal, plant, waters, etc. if the climate were warmer or hotter due to increased release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other trace gases causing the greenhouse effect. This has been the case of Niger Delta communities or states which experience warmer (hotter) climate and traditional pattern of rainfall distortion. Lastly, sea level in the area have been increased, all to the detriment of the inhabitants of the area. From the light of the above, oil and gas, made a blessing to the inhabitant of Niger-Delta by Jehovah God have been turned into a curse to the inhabitants and a blessing to the Federal Government of Nigeria and the various multi-national oil companies who have constituted themselves into kobols determined to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
1.5 Challenges Posed by Environmental Degradation in Nigeria
When oil was discovered, the Nigeria leaders hardly had any inclination that it could transform itself into an all-pervading revolution, which could be misused for criminal activities and the total destruction of the environment. This required strict environmental regulations.
The exploration or exploitation of crude oil in Niger-Delta and the continuous pollution and degradation of the environment in Niger Delta Area of Nigeria has significantly increased over the years.
Some of the major challenges posed by environmental degradations in Niger-delta area of Nigeria are as follows:
- Youth Restiveness: The degrading of the environment as a result of oil exploration or exploitation by the multi-national oil corporations without strict adherence to standard oil field practices and total neglect of the teaming population of the youth had resulted in militancy in the area with frequent cases of kidnapping and loss of life, particularly that of their victims. As a result of environmental degradation also, some youth of the Niger-Delta area have also resorted to crime because the blessed environment they inherited have been destroyed or distorted and the fishes in their rivers killed as a result of oil spillages.
- Unemployment and harsh Economic climate: Not only has the economy witnessed a serious downturn in recent times with the attendant consequences, the rate of unemployment have grown to patently unacceptable levels. Because the multi-national oil companies have continued to blatantly refused to honour the various agreements/contracts that required the oil companies to train and employ Nigerians in the exploration or exploitation of the crude oil. These oil companies employ foreigners to do all the work that do not require expertise that any Nigerian youth can do easily with little or no training, as a result the inhabitants who have graduated are left to their fate.
- Rural-Urban Migration: The inhabitants of the Niger-Delta have been forced to move from the rural areas to urban areas to live, because the environment and the natural resources (fishes, farmland, and green vegetation) have been polluted and degraded, and the inhabitants are left with a harsh environment.
Recent decades have witnessed the tendency for the able-bodied men and women to leave the villages of the Niger-Delta wetland for cities and towns.
It has been said that as a result of environmental degradation millions of people have died as a result of environmental related diseases and as been stated by the end of this year (that from 1990 to 2009) about seven million people would have died from planet earth. Considering the fact that Niger-Delta is one of the largest wetlands in the world, a large number of deaths will deduceably come from the area, as such the inhabitants migrate to cities for better life for themselves and their family.
- High Mortality Rate: In Niger-Delta area as a result of oil pollution and gas flaring, the life expectancy of the inhabitants have been drastically reduced with death rate among children and adult on the increase. The inhabitant have been clamouring that the Nigeria government and the multi-national oil companies should put a stop to oil pollution and gas flaring in the area, which has been said to be a cause of various deadly diseases that result in death. This was the major motive of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MASOP). Indirectly, also as a result of the degradation the people have also taken arms against themselves, e.g. the Giokoo killings and the destructions of property that worth millions of naira in May 1994.
- Inter/Intra Community Crises: The oil bearing communities of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria have witnessed a lot of inter-community clashes with loss of lives and property that worth millions of naira destroyed, either as a result of money sent to the community or as a result of the act of betrayal. Similarly, intra-community crisis is a big problem created also because of environmental degradation that has left the inhabitants of the Niger-Delta worse of. For example, the Gioko killings of May 1994 in which about four prominent Ogoni indigenes lost their lives while property worth millions of naira were destroyed in the process.
- Poverty: A visit to the oil producing communities of Niger-Delta is a poverty site itself to behold. As a result of oil spillages, and gas flaring in the area, farming and fishing which are the primary occupations of the people have been made a futile venture.
- Pollution of Underground Water: As a result of oil spillages and gas flaring, the underground water has been polluted through leaching and as a result the health of the inhabitants have been placed in jeopardy.
- Global Warming: Refers to an overall increase in temperature in earth’s atmosphere and rise in the sea level, which has been reported to place city and towns in the coastal areas in dicey state of been wiped out from the face of the earth. Niger-Delta region of Nigeria is a low-lying island where the worst oil pollutions and gas flaring in the world take place and will continue to take place because of the lackadaisical attitude and lax environmental law of Nigeria. It has been reported also that global warming would inundate fragile wetland ecosystem and cause saltwater intrusion into aquifers and other fresh water storage facilities.
- Depletion of the Ozone Layer: The flaring of gas by the multinational oil company have been identified as a threat to the protective ozone layer, which shields life from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Similarly, the bush burning inferno, that usually result from oil spillages, also contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.
The emission of those gases also result in acid rains, which now constitute a nightmare to those who lives in Niger-Delta region of Nigeria.
- Other challenges posed by environmental degradation are, ecological problems, extinction of some species from the flora and fauna, conflagration and disregard for environmental laws and human rights.
Currently, the rate of environmental degradation, oil spillages and gas flaring in Niger-Delta is high, the incident is a source of worry because the act is carried out both in offshore and onshore of the region. Gas flaring which resulted in acid rain has been reported to have destroyed more than eleven million hectares of forest of every year far back in 1988.
As a negative consequence, the Nigerian government is being blacklisted by the international community as the country with the highest rate of gas flaring.
It is worthy of mention/note that the Nigerian government losses billions of dollars to the act of gas flaring as well as oil and gas leakages in the Niger-Delta region of the country.
Since environmental degradation creates serious threat to the biotic and abiotic life, industrialized countries like the USA, UK, Canada, etc have put in place measures or policy to clean up degraded areas in their country and as such protect human right and guard their environment for the betterment of their citizens.
The question now is, why is Nigeria unable to tackle environmental degradation (that is oil spillages, oil and gas leakages) through the instrumentality of the law on human right and environmental? What has been the response of the federal government to challenges posed by this menace? It is here that an appraisal of how government’s inability to combat the menace constitutes an indictment to human rights and environmental law becomes appropriate.
 Environmental Degradation Comprises Gas flaring, oil spillages, excessive exploitation or exploration of natural resources in the environment, etc.
 This research shall focus on the degradation cause by environmental pollution (gas flaring and oil spillages) in Niger-Delta region of Nigeria.
 Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 6th Edition.
 6th Edition
 National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act, 2007. This act repealed Federal Environmental Protection Act (FEPA) Cap 131 LFN, 1990.
 Environmental Degradation – Wikipedia, the Free encyclopedia at http://wikipedia.org/wiki/environmental_degradation accessed 7/11/2009
 Idowu, A. A. “Environmental degradation and Human Rights Violation”, (quoting World Bank Development Report, Washington) (1999), Vol. 3, No. 1, MPJFIL, p. 125.
 This emphasis is mine
 Holy Bible (Revised Standard Version), Genesis 3:23, see also Okorodudu Fubaba M. T. Law of Environmental Protection, p. 15
 Atsegbua, L. A. 92nd Inaugural Lecture Series University of Benin 20th December 2007, p. 11
 Awake, November 8, 2003, p.4
 Ibid 11
 Ibid, 11.
 Atsegbua, L. A. “92nd Inaugural lecture series University of Benin”, December 20, 2007, p.7
 Atsegbua, L. A. “Environmental Rights, Pipelien Vandalisation and Conflict Resolution in the Niger Delta, 2001”, IELTR cited in Ibid, 16 at p. 12
 The Price of Oil, 1998, cited in Atsegbua, L. A. in 92nd Inaugural Lecture Series University of Benin, December 20, 2007, p. 13
 Kalu, V. E., “Toxic Waste and the Nigerian Environment: An Appraisal”, (2006), 9 (1) UBLJ at p. 60
 See Footnote 31 at Ibid 19
 Vanguard, Friday, May 12, 2006
 Monday, May 19, 2008, at p. A5
 At Ibid, 22
 “Liability for Oil Pollution in Nigeria (1999), Vol 3., No. 2 MPJFIL at p. 329, referenced by Dr. Akpo Mudiaga-Odje in “Niger-Delta Region and the Principle of Self – determination”, being a paper delivered at the University of Benin Law Students Association, Distinguished Graduates Award Ceremony on October 8, 2008, at p. 7.
 See Dogo, Isuwa, B., “Transnational Corporations being the text or a paper presented at the 1967 Annual Conference of the Nigerian Society of International Law in Lagos on August 5th 1997, p. 6
 Idowu, A. A., “Environmental Degradation and Human Right Violations” (1999) Vol, 3 No. 1. MPJFIL, p. 127
 Ibid, 26 at p. 128
 Kalu, V. E., “Toxic Wastes and the Nigerian Environment: An Appraisal”, (2006), of (1) UBLJ, p. 59
 Air Pollution from Natural Gas flaring exhaust emissions from the explosion in car ownership and electricity generators continue … (worthy of note is that Niger-Delta State rely mainly on electricity generator also at www.oilgasarticles.com/92/oilspills – an emphasis on Niger-Delta (accessed 7/11/2009
 See Newswatch Magazine, June 26, 1988, p. 14
 Ibid 26, p. 58
 Ibid, 26, at p. 339 Professor Ambrose Alli’s comment
 Environmental degradation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/environmetnal-degradation, p. 1 of 1 (accessed 7/11/2009)
 Niger-Delta with footnote (2) supra.
 See Ibid, 26
 Leaching is the watching down of the soil nutrient in solution down the profile beyond the reach of most plant roots, (see Omoruyi, S. A. et al (2000), p. 68
 In “Earth in the Palace, Ecology and the Human Spirit” sited in Ibid 126, at p. 339
 Professor, A. F. Alli, “Ceremonial Opening address” in the Petroleum Industry and the Nigerian Environment proceedings. Sited in Ibid 126 at p. 339
 This classification is only peculiar to Niger-Delta Region
 See Awake, November 8, 2003, p. 10 (for details)
 See Ibid 40, (for details)
 Atsegbua, L. A. “92nd Inaugural Lecture Series”, University of Benin, December 20, 2007, 12 – 13.
 Ibid, 42
 See Ibid 42, p. 14
 Kalu, V. E., “Toxic Wastes and the Nigerian Environment: An Appraisal”, (2006), 9 (1)UBLJ, 58 – 60.
 Ibid, 8, p. 127
 See Newswatch Magazine, June 26, 1988, 14 for details.
 Okorodudu – Fubara, M. T., Law of Environmental Protection, p. 526
 It is Obvious that in this year (2009), it is still rainy heavily in November, which has never happened before.
 That is the Niger-Delta States and Communities.
 The goose represent Niger-Delta, while the golden eggs represent crude oil and natural gas.
 See Ibid 16, at p. 6 (The History of Oil in Nigeria)
 Eze J., “FG must be sincere in its dealing in the Niger-Delta”, Vanguard (Lagos), April 16, 2006, p. 2
 See Atsegbua, L. et. al., Environmental Law in Nigeria”, 2004, Abala Press, p. 70.
 Calculation is mine
 Ogoni is a community or town in the present day River State. Which is one of the state make up Niger-Delta
 Giokoo is a community in Ogoni
 Please note that bonus here represent money
 Leaching means the washing down of acidic or poisonous chemicals in solution down the profile of the soil to the underground water.
 See Awake, August 2008, p. 3 – 8.
 Okorodudu – Fubara, M., “Law of Environmental Protection”, p. 525 – 526.
 For detail see Newswatch Magazine, 26th June, 1988, p. 14
 It has been reported in Newswatch Magazine, June 26, 1988, that 11 million hectares of forest are destroyed every year by acid rain.
 For detail, see Newswatch, Magazine 26th June, 1988, 14.
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