1.      Introduction

Until recently, Nigeria was Africa’s leading oil producer country, with the production capacity of 2.2 million barrel (350,000m3) per day[H. P.1] . Its oil reserves are estimated to be as much as 35.3 billion barrels (5.61x 109 m3).[1] This oil resource is largely concentrated within the Niger delta region of the country, which alone accounts for almost 95% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings, about 65% of her budgetary revenues, 83% of her national wealth, and 80% of the country’s GDP.[2]

Despite the enormous wealth credited to Nigeria by this product, the country has remained in a socio-political logjam as a result of oil politics, which intrinsically centres on the questions of who owns or should own the product, how surface access to production sites should be facilitated, in terms of ownership of land resources; and the effect which production and exploitation of the product has had on the lives of the people living in the region and the environment.  The controversies generated by the answers so far given to these questions by the Nigerian government and the Multinational Oil Companies (MNOCs) operating in the country have been exacerbated by the enactment of several legislations which have contributed to the sustenance of the instability in the Niger Delta region. Some of these legislations include some provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Petroleum Act,[3] Oil Pipelines Act,[4] Oil in Navigable Waters Act,[5] and the Land Use Act,[6] amongst others.
In this paper we intend to scrupulously analyse and re-visit the issue of ownership of both natural resources entrapped beneath the land and land itself within the Nigerian polity, which we observed is the fulcrum of the endless agitation and instability in the Niger Delta region. We view the issue of ownership from an entirely new perspective, using the age long common law theories/maxims of ownership, cuios est solum eius est usque ad cloum et ad inferos,[7] and quic quid plantalour solo solo cedit,[8] to anchor our argument for a populist notion of ownership of nature’s wealth and equitable distribution of resources in Nigeria. Such an argument simultaneously enables us to argue for a paradigm shift in the way we interprete issues of environmental human rights in the contemporary jurisprudence of the subject.   
Our analysis of the question of ‘ownership’ of both oil resources and land, is aided by our synthesization of the problem broadly into two perspectives – that is, problem that ensconces/arises as to who owns these resources between the Federal government and state governments of the Niger Delta region, and secondly, problems of ownership between the government and the Niger delta people. A third corollary of the problem, which does not really border on ownership, but on the issue of environmental human rights and justice, is between the Niger Delta people and the Multinational Oil Companies operating in the region. The paper will therefore discuss the foregoing issues in five parts. The next part (Part 2) explains the Niger Delta geography/environment, the prevalence and volume of oil exploration in the region and the benefit which such exploitation has brought to the Nigeria nation over the period from independence up until the present. Part 3 looks at the issue of the Niger Delta people and agitations for resource control progressively over the years. Part 4 delves into the crux of our argument for the interpretation of the issue of ownership from a common law perspective, using the theories of cuios est solum eius est usque ad cloum et ad inferos, and quic quid plantatour solo solo cedit.   Part 5 hones down to our new thoughts on the issue of environmental human rights and justice, and Part 6 is the conclusion.  
2.       The Niger Delta, Crude Oil Exploration and the Nigerian Nation

       The Niger Delta is located in the southernmost region of Nigeria. It makes up 7.5% of the Nigerian land mass, traversing over 70,000 km square.[9] The area is bounded in the south by the Atlantic Ocean and the Republic of Cameroon. In the west by Ogun, Oyo and Kogi States, in the north by Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Benue and Kogi States, in the east by Benue State and the Republic of Cameroon[H. P.2] . The Niger Delta is made up of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers states. The population of the area is estimated to be above 31 million people, resulting in over 23% of Nigeria’s total population[H. P.3] . The region is made up of more than 40 ethnic groups, with about 250 different dialects, amongst which Efik, Ibibio, Annang, Oron, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Ibo, Urhobo, Yoruba, bini and Kalabari are the major ethnic groups.[10] The region is blessed with one of the finest ecosystem in the world, with one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity on the planet.[11] It is comprised of numerous flora and fauna, with a viable arable plane that is a citadel of agricultural activities. The ecological zone is predominantly lowland rainforest, mangrove swamp forests, freshwater swamps, and coastal barrier islands. The inhabitants are mainly fishers and farmers.
          Above all the other attributes alluded to the Niger Delta region, is the fact that it is the treasure base of the nation, and houses 60% of Nigeria’s total oil fields, which represents the country’s oil fields that are basically on-shore.[12] This region has since 1960 when Nigeria gained political independence from the colonial masters remained the lifeline of the country’s economy as a result of Nigeria’s progressive gravitation towards a single commodity market in crude oil.  Though, oil was first discovered in Nigeria, in the then Southern Protectorate, in the year 1908 by the Nigerian Bitumen Company, (a German company), it was not until 1956 that the first discovery of the commodity in commercial quantity was made. The first export of the commodity was made in 1958;[13] before this time, Nigeria had an agrarian economy.[14] In 1960 for instance, Nigeria was the world’s highest exporter of cocoa, the country had a viable agro-economy spanning from the groundnut pyramids, beans and millet of the north and cocoa, oil palm, coal and fish of the south.[15] Indeed, it was because of the abundance of oil palm in the delta region that it was formerly first known as the oil region[H. P.4] .
       However, notwithstanding the huge prospect which the country has had to diversify its economy after the discovery of crude oil, it could be argued that the advent of the petroleum industry in fact actually dwindled the fortunes of Nigeria[16]. It is indeed a classic case of the curse associated with massive oil production by a country[H. P.5] . Apart from neglecting other viable sectors of the economy to concentrate solely on oil revenues,[17] it is also suggested that the oil industry actually heralded and has continued to sustain the monumental administrative and political decadence which have persistently stunted growth in the country and clogged the wheels of development.[18]  
          Today the entire Niger Delta land mass other than the continental shelf is inundated with oil fields, covering over 1,500 communities in the region, which account for at least three-quarter of Nigeria’s oil production.[19] This has turned in billions of dollars to the Nigerian state over the period since independence in 1960.[20] Currently, it is estimated that about 2 million barrels of crude oil are pumped out of the Niger Delta each day,[21] giving the government between US$ 20 -100 million daily.[22] Shell alone, which has the greatest share of Nigeria’s upstream oil industry,[23] has about 159 oil fields and 275 flow stations carved out of the fragile Delta ecosystem.[24] The total number of oil wells drilled in the region is estimated to be over 5,000, representing about 31,000 square kilometres of physical land.[25]    
          The over-dependence on oil production in Nigeria has resulted in the dominance of the product as the central commodity in the Nigerian economy, providing over eighty percent of government revenues, ninety percent of foreign exchange earnings, and forty percent of GDP. Thus, oil revenues are central to the functioning, growth and development of every facet of the Nigerian nation. Indeed, every major stride which Nigeria has made since 1970 has been tied to the revenue accruing from oil.[26] However, notwithstanding the benefit which the Nigerian nation have derived from the Niger Delta, the region remains the most backward in the country,[27] and majority of the population there live in abject poverty.[28] The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) describes the region as suffering from “administrative neglect, crumbling social infrastructure and services, high unemployment, social deprivation, abject poverty, filth and squalor, and endemic conflict.”[29] The majority of the people of the Niger Delta do not have adequate access to clean water or health-care.[30] The poverty in the region contrasted with the wealth generated by oil, has become one of the world’s starkest and most disturbing examples of the “resource curse”.[31] According to Mukagbo, Cable Network News (CNN) anchorman for Inside Africa 2007, the Niger Delta “is a region where time seems to have stood still and where people live the most meager of existences, leaving them bitter and angry from not having benefited from the black gold that makes Nigeria Africa’s largest producer”.[32] The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) quite rightly observed that the developmental challenges of the region are:

“widespread poverty; severe dearth of infrastructure and amenities in the rural areas; being the world’s third largest wetland with fragile ecosystems; high unemployment, rural-urban migration, urban decay; and environmental degradation and pollution”.[33]   
          The fact that the people of the Niger Delta have not benefited from oil wealth is only one part of the story. The second and most unfortunate part is the deleterious effect which the exploitation of crude oil has had on the people’s livelihood, health, human rights and local economy. Widespread and unchecked activities related to the oil industry have pushed many people in the Niger Delta deeper into poverty and deprivation, fuelled conflict and led to a pervasive sense of powerlessness and frustration. The multi-dimensional crisis is driven by the actions of the security forces and militant groups, extensive pollution of land and water, corruption, corporate failures and bad practice and serious government neglect.[34]
          For the people of the Niger Delta, environmental quality and sustainability are fundamental to their overall wellbeing and development. According to UNDP, more than 60 per cent of the people in the region depend on the natural environment for their livelihood.[35] For many, the environmental resource base, which they use for agriculture, fishing and the collection of forest products, is their principal or sole source of food.[36] Pollution and environmental damage, therefore, pose significant risks to their survival and basic human rights.[37] According to a study carried out by a team of Nigerian and international environmental experts in 2006,[38] the Niger Delta is “one of the world’s most severely petroleum-impacted ecosystems”. They stated: “The damage from oil operations is chronic and cumulative, and has acted synergistically with other sources of environmental stress to result in a severely impaired coastal ecosystem and compromised the livelihoods and health of the region’s impoverished residents.”
          While oil spills[39] and gas flaring[40] are the most frequently referenced forms of oil-related pollution in the Niger Delta, there are in fact several other ways in which the oil industry has continued to harm the environment, such as disposal of wastes and effluents,[41] dredging, drilling, and seismic activities.

3.       The Niger-Delta and Agitation for Resource Control

a situation where some communities lay golden and silver eggs for the country and yet live in criminal neglect while just a few people fatten themselves on the income from those resources is extremely crude, wicked and criminal.[42]

          Having considered the physical state of the Niger Delta region, it is worthy to note that the monumental backwardness, poverty, and especially government policies and attitude towards the region has laid the groundwork for popular agitations for economic autonomy, which sometimes lead to sporadic armed conflicts and other forms of violence. Apart from the excessive poverty and deleterious activities associated with oil exploitation discussed in the last section of the paper, several other important explanations are given for the unrest and volatility in the Niger Delta. For instance, unemployment is a major concern in the region, which has had tremendous and adverse impact on peace and stability.[43] As a result of poor management of the oil industry, especially the downstream sector,[44] the entire industry employs only 35,000 people directly or indirectly.[45] The agricultural sector in the region has been totally destroyed by the oil industry, and nothing else is done by the government to engage the youths.[46]  Thus, the rate of unemployment in the Niger Delta is extremely high compared to other parts of the country.[47] It is claimed that less than 5% of the people in the Niger Delta are actually employed in the oil industry, and that rather, most of the available chances are given to beneficiaries from other parts of the country.[48] Indeed, a survey of members of armed groups in three Niger Delta states underscores the link between unemployment and violent agitation. The survey concludes that:

at least 50 per cent of the armed group members who responded to the AAPW [Academic Associates PeaceWorks] questionnaire claimed that they were unemployed, had no profession, or worked in unpaid jobs,

          Another source of frustration and therefore agitation by the Niger Delta people is the progressively diminishing revenue accruable from oil that has been allocated to the region by the federal government since independence from colonial Britain.[49] It is noted that the percentage of oil revenues refunded to the producing regions was almost 100% between 1953 and 1959.[50] The 1960 constitution pegged it at 50%,[51] which was in place until 1970 when the Gowon administration reduced it to 30%.[52] Subsequently, the Aboyade Technical Committee during the Murtala/Obasanjo administration reduced the amount refundable by 5%, the Shagari administration by 20%, and under the Buhari military government, derivation was as low as 1.5%.[53] In fact, some writers speculate that derivation actually hit an all time low of zero per cent before the Babangida administration fixed it at 1% and later increased it to 3%, where it remained until the coming into effect of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.[54]  Under the present constitution, 13% of revenue accruing to the federal government from oil resources derived from any state of the federation is to be paid back to it.[55] Though, this percentage has failed to satisfy the yearnings of the people of the Niger Delta region, nevertheless, it has put into the hands of state governments in the region billions of dollars since 1999.[56]
          Unfortunately, despite the colossal sum that has gone into the coffers of state governments in the oil producing areas,[57] this has not had any positive effects on the people of the region, or on the local economy and development.[58] Large amounts of money have disappeared within the states’ and local governments’ budgets, which are totally lacking in transparency.[59] Corruption,[60] patrimonialism, frivolity[61] and other forms of personal enrichment have dominated public service in the region, and indeed the entire nation.  This state of affairs have served to exacerbate insurrection and create the violence, instability and conflict in the Niger Delta, as the youths are left idle and alienated from the presence and impact of government.[62]    
          Apart from the above, there is an impending sense of suspicion against the federal government by the people of the Niger Delta, as they see the central government as playing politics with issues of development in the region. They consider the government as being insincere in the development of the region since it was declared by the Willink Commission as a special region which should be given adequate attention.[63] Thus, the moot efforts of the federal government in establishing special development agencies for the region since 1960 has been decried as translating into a journey to nowhere, as these have not brought any special development to the region;[64] indicating lack of sincerity on the part of the government.[65] This prevailing disillusionment is without regard to the consistent recognition by government of the Niger Delta as a region that requires special developmental needs, through the several committees and fact finding missions established by past[66] and present governments,[67] including international agencies.[68]  
          Despite all that have been said so far however, the most palpitating factor for the current spate of unrest and agitation in the Niger Delta, is the excruciating effect of the expropriation of the essential resource that defines the life and culture of the indigenous peoples of the delta area, which is land.[69] As far as the people of the region are concern, ownership of land bequeaths everything associated with it, including natural resources found therein.[70] This perhaps accounts for the relative sense of co-operation which the people gave to the Nigerian government and MNOCs operating in the region prior to the promulgation of the Land Use Decree in 1978, notwithstanding that statutorily, ownership of natural resources beneath their land had been long expropriated by the state.[71] The people considered their management and control of land as an enough participation in the exploitation of crude oil to express at least their part ownership of the resources and the fulfillment of environmental justice.[72] In other words, even though the ownership of the oil was vested absolutely in the federal government, the communities owned the land beneath which the resources were situated and therefore reserved several beneficial rights, among which were the right to negotiate directly with oil companies with regards to land use issues, such as rent, lease, tenure and compensation.[73]
          Among the negative impacts of the Land Use Act is the removal of the radical title in land from individual Nigerians, families, and communities and vesting the same in the governor of each state of the federation in trust for the use and benefit of all Nigerians, and the removal of the control and management of lands from family and community heads/chiefs and vesting the same in the governors of each state of the federation.[74] The import of this seemingly innocuous reform on the people of the Niger Delta is that it legitimized the appropriation of land in the region without adequate compensation,[75] eroded the authority of traditional rulers as custodian of community land rights and customary land administration for the benefit of the people,[76] and removed the rights of holders and occupiers of land to obtain adequate compensation for the intrinsic value of land and projected future earnings.[77] The Act is described as the most dramatic of the barrage of pro-oil statutes.[78]              
          The sum total of the expropriatory legislations and the other sundry factors discussed above is the expression of various forms of agitation by the people, and militarization of the Niger Delta region.[79] The pattern of confrontations in the region is what is described as environmental conflicts,[80] which when interwoven with other multifarious elements contribute to the increasing escalation of violent conflicts.[81] Armed groups of various kinds[82] have emerged in the region which are threatening the security of the entire country, and have elevated violence above mere criminality, oscillating between rebellion, insurgency and belligerency.[83]       
          A critical look at the pattern of agitation in the Niger Delta reveals a tripodal trajectory. There is the agitation by independent federating entities/units (states)[84] in the region against the federal government in what is popularly known as the struggle for ‘resource control’; there is also the agitation by the people of the region against the federal government and its oil interest in the region, which is expressed in the form of militancy, often elevated to a small scale war (insurgency)  with sundry acts of sabotage, guerilla tactics, asymmetric methods and demand for self-determination;  and finally, there is the agitation by the people of the region against MNOCs operating in the region, for environmental justice and protection of their human rights and livelihood, which has transcended national remedial enforcement methods. In this section, we shall briefly consider the first and second levels of agitation, while the third level shall be considered in part 5 below. Indeed, the first and second phases of agitation could be discussed together, as they may be considered as inseparable, though conceptually, each presents a unique pattern of agitation.
          The struggle of the Niger Delta region for ‘resource control’ began with the unsuccessful attempt in 1966 by Isaac Adaka Boro to secede from Nigeria and form the Niger Delta Republic.[85] Ever since the rebellion was crushed, the attitude of every successive campaign of agitation in the region has shifted from the bid to acquire sovereignty and political independence, to seeking internal economic autonomy and participatory self-determination.[86]  This can be gleaned from the creed/charter declaration of all the major ethnic affiliations in the region.[87] For instance, the Kaiama Declaration made by the Ijaw nation in 1998 states:

All lands and natural resources (including mineral resources) within the Ijaw territory belong to the Ijaw communities and are the basis of our survival…We cease to recognise all undemocratic decrees that rob our peoples/communities of the right to ownership and control of our lives and resources, which were enacted without our participation and consent. These include the Land Use Decree, 1978 and the Petroleum Decree of 1969 and 1991, the Lands (Title Vesting, etc) Decree No. 52 of 1993 (Osborne Land Decree), the National Inland Waterways Authority Decree No 13 of 1997, etc.[88]

          Thus, at the forefront of the struggle for resource control, are the people of the Niger Delta, signified by the large participation of the ordinary Deltans in the various ethnic affiliates that adopted the declarations.[89] However, the resource control agenda was later hijacked by the elites/elders and local/state authorities in the region, thereby raising the agitation to a more legalistic and constitutional issue; though with a substantially altered agenda.[90] The problem with the resource control argument is the lack of clarity with regards to the meaning and nature of the phrase. The people of the Niger Delta through the various declarations have expressed their understanding of the phrase to mean that all natural resources, including land and minerals found on or beneath it must be totally controlled and managed by the people themselves or the communities in whose land the resources originate.[91] For instance, a governor in one of the Niger Delta states simplified this notion of resource control when he stated that:

Resource control means that if I as a Bini man goes to Kebbi state and finds gold, the resource should belong to me and not the state or the federal government. All I owed the federal government is to pay taxes and royalties. The same principle should apply if a Kano man comes to Edo, Delta or Bayelsa and strikes oil. He only pays royalties and taxes to the state or the federal government.[92]

          One of the founding fathers of the country, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had also commented that “the benefit of resource control should accrue to the individuals and not the state, following the principles enunciated by Adams Smith in the Wealth of Nations.[93] The momentum of the struggle for resource control sustained by the people and which was beginning to become a major national issue for reconstruction of the polity was however, effectively seized by the political class after 1999 upon the return of democratic rule in Nigeria.[94] The agitation thus turned from a populist mass movement to a constitutional periphery-centre struggle for devolution of political and economic power, autonomy and true federalism.[95] In the heat of the struggle the governors of the south-south zone (Niger Delta states) met and defined the boundaries of what they meant by ‘resource control’ as:

The practice of true federalism and natural law, in which the federating units express their right to primarily control the natural resources within their borders and make agreed contributions towards maintenance of common services of sovereign nation-state in which they belong. In the case of Nigeria, the federating units are the 36 states and the sovereign nation is the federal Republic of Nigeria.[96]

          At the level of periphery-centre struggle for resource control, the first issue attacked by the governors of the Niger Delta federating units was the so-called onshore/off-shore dichotomy as bases for calculating the 13% derivation principle provided in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.[97] The constitution unlike the 1960 and 1963 constitutions of the country, failed to clearly stipulate the criteria for the application of the derivation principle provided under it.[98] Under these past constitutions, the derivation principle was calculated to include revenue derived from the continental shelf contiguous to each particular region where oil was produced.[99] Thus, such off-shore territories were deemed to belong to the territory of the region (now states) for the purpose of calculating the derivation principle.[100] This helped to put substantial funds in the hands of the regions at that time.  However, because of the non-inclusion of such similar clause in the 1999 constitution, derivation was initially calculated based on only natural resources derived from on-shore territories of the oil producing states. Thus, as a result of the very high reliance on off-shore oil production in Nigeria since the making of the present constitution, derivation based on such dichotomy led to an abysmal reduction in the revenue  base of the Niger delta states, effectively reducing the derivation principle to only 8% of the original 13% provided in the constitution.[101]
          Following agitation by states of the Niger Delta for a larger share of federal funds through the derivation principle, the Federal Government instituted an action against the federating states in the Supreme Court of Nigeria to determine the seaward boundaries of littoral states in the country, in order to determine if they were entitled to revenue derived off-shore from oil production. The Supreme Court in Attorney-General of the Federation v.  Attorney-General of Abia State and 35 Others[102]  (Resource Control case) finally declared that the littoral states (including the Niger Delta) had no claims to resources within the continental shelf of the country.[103] This decision further aggravated the agitation in the Niger Delta both by state governments in the region and the people, and contributed to the initial increase in violence and restlessness in the region, as the communities that are affected by the effect of oil production (whether on-shore or off-shore) regarded this as another assault on their right to self-determination and control of their natural resources.[104] At this stage, a political resolution of the impasse became imperative to assuage the discontent of the littoral states, and eventually, the National Assembly enacted the Allocation of Revenue (Abolition of Dichotomy in the Application of the Principle of Derivation) Act 2004, which finally laid that phase of agitation to rest.[105]   
          The next phase of the periphery-centre struggle for resource control was the thunderous outcry for the convention of a Sovereign National Conference that would bring together delegates from all the ethnic nationalities in the country for the purpose of agreeing on the terms of the union of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Niger Delta governors hoped that such a conference would recommend devolution of both political and economic power to the state governments and therefore realize their ultimate aim of achieving complete control and management of the oil sector. Despite the initial opposition and suspicion of the Federal Government towards the merit of such conference, it did a clever volte-face on the issue but instead convened what it called the National Political Reform Conference, with a substantially limited mandate.[106] The delegates from the Niger Delta region laid their demands before the conference[107] but were eventually made to abandon the hard stance for absolute control of the natural resources found in their territory, for the less favourable increase of the derivation principle.[108] Yet even that, as the south-south delegates would later find out was not to be readily handed out to them by especially the northern states. Thus, the initial demands of the Niger Delta states of 25% derivation principle with a progressive increase to 50% in five years was utterly rejected by the conference, and rather a 17% derivation was recommended amongst other solutions, to tame further agitations from the region.[109] Despite their protestation and dramatic walk-out from the conference, it eventually concluded without them.[110]    
          However, with the benefit of hindsight, the National Political Reform Conference, just like earlier attempts by the federal government to address the Niger Delta question was a ruse, meant to only temporarily douse the mounting agitations from the region, rather than permanently solve the problems of inequality and injustice in the polity. The recommendations of the conference however diminutive, were never implemented, rather, the Obasanjo administration continued its brazen attacks against militants who had stepped up violence in the region as a direct consequence of the failure of the conference,[111] and purportedly inaugurated the Council on the Socio-economic Development of Coastal States of the Niger Delta in early 2006. The council was given a 9 point mandate[112] which never materialized until the tenure of the administration expired in 2007.[113] Under the present Yar’Adua/Goodluck administration, no significant attitudinal change seems to be effected on the part of government with respect to agitations in the Niger Delta, except that a different approach appears to be adopted. Though the government seems to extend an olive leaf to the militants rather than matching their violence with state force,[114] however instead of implementing the myriads of recommendations made by previous Commissions, it opted to establish the Niger Delta Technical Committee,[115] which has turned out to another subterfuge.[116] The Amnesty programme of the administration has almost altogether collapsed[117] and hostilities have resumed principally between MEND and the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in the region.[118]
          It now appears that notwithstanding the amnesty programme and emergence of President Goodluck as the leader of the country,[119] the actual root cause of the agitation of the people of the Niger Delta region is yet to be addressed and some of the militant leaders are not convinced that justice would be done and the issue of resource control would receive adequate attention.[120]
          The above discussion has dwelled almost entirely on the first level of agitation between the federating units (states) in the Niger Delta region and the federal government of Nigeria; however, the discussion also to some extent touches on the second level of agitation, that is, between the people and the federal government. This is because the agitation for resource control had always been a populist movement within the region ever before it was hijacked by the elites and state officials; thus, the struggle had remained under the vigilant eyes and active participation of people, especially the militant youths in the region who continued to reward positive progress and cooperation, with relative calm and encumbrance or sabotage with violence. It is however worthy to note that the populist notion of resource control held by the people is diametrically different from the elitist struggle. The people of the Niger Delta region have in so many respects denounced the claims of the various state governments to the proceeds of oil resources found beneath their lands due to the gross inability of states and local governments in the region to adequately apply funds which have accrued to the region from the derivation principle over the years, especially since the return of the country to democratic rule in 1999 for development and progress. There is evidence of serious mismanagement and misappropriation of these funds by government officials in the region which has stunted development and left the people in perpetual penury.[121]
          According to one analyst, between 1999 and 2007 about N3trillion was allocated to the Niger Delta region either through the derivation principle[122] or allocation to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Even though a massive 70% and 22% of this fund went to states and local governments respectively, and only a paltry 8% went to the Niger Delta Development Commission, nothing of significant was achieved in terms of major project execution by these two arms of government put together, compared to the achievements of the NDDC within the period.[123]
          It appears that the people of the Niger Delta do not agree with their elites and the states and local governments in the region on what should define the populist struggle for resource control, in terms of the meaning of the phrase and who should eventually manage and control the vast oil reserves in the region, and proceeds derived from it, if the struggle succeeds. There is evidence that the people’s notion of ‘resource control’ is inextricably knitted with their ancestral use and ownership of the lands beneath which the ‘black gold’ is found. One of the most vocal youths in the region describes the people’s conception of the struggle as one for ‘communitisation’[124] which implies a joint community project in the ownership and control of the vast oil resources of the Niger Delta, rather than the venal attempt of the region’s political class to perpetrate the status quo under the guise for enthronement of true federalism, in the struggle for resource control.           Notwithstanding, there is yet to be a definite consensus amongst the people on how the demand for resource control should be implemented, in such a way as to guarantee the involvement of the people in both the management and beneficial control of the vast oil reserves beneath their lands. For instance, Ojameruaye (himself from the Niger Delta region) agrees with the previous writer on the issue of ‘joint ownership’ of crude oil resources in the Niger Delta, but disagrees that the mode of joint ownership should be restricted to the communities alone.[125] According to him, the joint ownership should be spread between the federal government, the mineral producing states and local governments, and the communities where the resources are exploited, through the allocation of shares and equity holdings in mineral producing ventures.[126] Other writers have also contributed in shaping the debate, especially among the people of the Niger Delta region, on the nature of arrangement that would best express the character of resource control suitable for the people of the Niger Delta should the struggle succeed. Ayodele-Akaakar seems to favour the USA-Canada model for application in Nigeria, where a dual system of ownership exists in some states in the U.S. in which the landowner owns mineral rights of onshore areas while the states and the federal government owns minerals in/on public lands including offshore areas;[127] and in Canada, where the Provinces (states) have complete title to the petroleum resources in situ on the property within its territory and federal policy is only focused on the consumption and trade aspects of the oil industry.[128]  
          Xavier Salai-i-Marta and Arvind Subramanian on the other hand introduces an interesting argument for an entirely new model of redistribution of oil wealth among citizens of the country rather than a strictly resource control archetype for the Niger Delta.[129] They believe that resource control may not after all be the solution to the increasing violence in the Niger Delta, but a more enduring model for redistribution of wealth, repair of environmental damage and provision for future generations of the nation.[130]

4.     The Common Law, Private Law Ownership Principles: Exploring New Theories of Ownership in the Niger Delta Question

       Despite the clarity in our statute books on who own petroleum,[131] and who land is vested in Nigeria,[132] the subject has untilled threaten the survivor of the Nigerian state. Nigeria, like most OPEC[133] countries operate state ownership of petroleum resources. Many arguments have been made for and against state ownership of petroleum resources in Nigeria. The pro state ownership group have maintained that it is in line with Un Resolution 1803 of 1962 on the permanent sovereignty of states over their natural resources. They equally stated that it will make for equitable distribution of the resources for the good of all Nigerians, and that control of resources by a federating state will make some state stronger and in turn lead to intimidation of other federating states, and even the federal government. They also posited that considering the ‘recent internecine war’ among the various oil communities, that individual, community state ownership will lead to lawlessness.[134]
       On the other hand, the anti state ownership group are of the view that Nigeria should not adopt any mode of ownership on the basis that it is the most popular in the world, but a mode of ownership that will fit her socio-political diversity and peculiarities as a nation. They equally state that the UN Resolution 1803 of 1962, did not in any way proscribe a particular mode of ownership for nations, but was made to prevent external control of a state’s resources, by another state. Prof Chukwuemerie is of the view that USA and Canada, practice a hybrid of state ownership and private ownership of resources, yet have not breached my international protocol.[135]  On the pro-state ownership claim that it will sustain and protect uniform development, the anti-state ownership have pointed out that Nigeria had failed totally in this area, because the Nigeria delta region have been criminally neglected since oil was discovered. No wonder there is much rush to control the federal government. The anti – state group went on to state that individual, community on federating unit control will breed healthy competition among the various sectors of the countries, which will lead to all sides development, unlike this over exploitation of one sector.[136] The anti – state group also stated that the state ownership is characterized with corruption, but if it were to be private ownership, that the market will operate on the forces of demand and supply, which would eradicate waste like gas flaring, and bring about greater efficiency.[137] Prof. Chukwuemerie on his part, conceded that the state have had over half a century to work, but have continued to fail.[138]
       On our path, to bring a lasting solution to the Niger delta crisis of resource control it imperative to determine who actually owns land in Nigeria, and apply the common law principle of cuios est solum eius est usque ad cloum et ad inferos, and quic quid plantalour solo solo cedit, which we deem relevance to the problem of who owns in Nigeria.
       This is because, land is of uttermost importance to the African man, kari polanyi[139] captured the relevance of land thus.

“Land is an element of nature inextricably interwoven with man’s institutions. It invests man’s life with stability, it is the site of his habitation, it is a condition of physical  safety, it is the landscape and the season … we might as well imagine him being born without lands and feet  as carrying on  his life without  land.”
    The lawyer’s question is, what then constitutes land. Two Latin  maxims have been employed under the common  law to define land, they are cuius est solum  eius est usgue ad colum et ad inferos[140] and quic  quid plantatur solo solo credit.[141]
       Therefore, at common law, land is made up of the following.
    The surface of the soil or the earth surface
    Every thing naturally  growing  or attached to the surface of the soil
    Every thing inside the sub-soil
    The air space above the soil
    Things artificially attached to the soil  

This common law principle has been judicially recognized as an established principle of our land law by the supreme court, in the celebrated  case of  Otogtbolu v. okeluwa[142]
   There is a presumption at common law that a land owner also owns all minerals on or beneath the surface of that land.[143] The only exception at common with respect to minerals has remained the royal metal[144] situated on public or private, which is regarded as the property of the crown.[145]
   This common law principles were brought  into Nigeria  as part of the received English  law. Section 3 (3) of the Interpretation Act of 1945, imported the common law meaning of land in Nigeria. The section defines land as meaning the earth surface and everything attached to the earth or permanently fastened to anything that is attached to the earth and all chattels real (i.e a legal expression for leasehold interest). Unfortunately, against the spirit of common law, the section expressly excluded minerals form the definition. It went further to vest the ownership of all minerals (petroleum inclusive on the federal government).
   The lawyer’s question once more is, who is the actual owner of land in Nigeria?
   The nearest statutory answer remains,  section 1 of the Land Use Act 1978 (LUA)  that provides thus;  

‘subject to the provisions of this Act, all land comprised in the territory of each  state  of the federation are hereby vested in the Government of the  State  and such  land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians accordance with the provisions of this Acts. 
By virtue of this provision, the Governor of the state, for benefit of all Nigerians, now hold all land within the territory of each state of the Federation in trust.
It therefore means that the trustee (in this case, the Government) have the right to manage, control and use the trust property against all person except the beneficiary.
It equally means that the right of     ownership is vested on him, not as owner, but on behalf of the owner.[146]
When we read section 1 of LUA together with section 44 (3) of the 1999 constitution, which vests ownership of mineral resources on the Federal government, one will observe the clarity of the legislations. The land is vested in State Governor, while, the mineral resources is vested in the Federal Government, commenting on these ownership schemes, Prof. Anagaye Opined;  

the logic that out owns the land and another owns the oil extracted   from beneath the land, is Nigerian logic or illogic propounded by parochial logicians, if crude were found under “the big tree” eminent jurists would  have inserted  the enabling  section in the 1999 constitution  to read “ any oil found under any big three belongs exclusive to the owner of a big three.[147]
It is therefore imperative to notice that this system runs contrary  to  the principle  Cuius est solum eius est usquead coleum et inferos (which is to the effect that he who owns the land owns everything extending  to the heavens and to the depth of the earth) and the principle of federalism that has as its cardinal principle that the Federating units  exclusive control their natural resources.
Conclusively, we are of the view  that in the spirit of federalism and upon the principle  of quic quid platatur solo credit and cuis est solem eins est usque ad colum et ad inferos, that section 44(3) of the 1999 constitution should be amended  so as to read  the true meaning of land. It is certainly illogical to state that one owns land and another owns the thing buried inside. By implication, it means that natural resources should also be vested in the state Governors. From the discussion so far, it is clear  that the Federal Government does not own land, but land is vested in the State Government. However a lucid look into the provision of section 1 of LUA will reveal that this provision did not vest land on the Government as an owner, rather as a trustee.  One  would at this point be left with no other option  but to ask, who then is the real owner of land or who is the beneficiary of this trust property land?, since neither the Federal  nor the State Government own land.
Therefore, for us to determine the true owner of land, we will have to critically examine the phrase “… such land will be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians.
This shows that the State government is only a trustee for all Nigerians. By this, it is therefore meant that Nigerians are the beneficiary of the trust. Since they are the beneficiaries  of the trust, they are therefore, the true owner of land. This could be traced to the tenure system before the creation of Nigeria and subsequently  the land Use Act 1978. Before then, land belonged to the community, the village or family, and by extension to the individual when the community, village or family big bequeathed such land to him. Even  the Willink’s committee  report of 1958, has it that Nigeria  is made up of independent  and autonomous kingdoms and people with distinct  culture,  religion  and  languages, who ranked equal, both came together to form the entity Nigeria.[148] It therefore, means that these autonomous kingdoms and people, before the advent of the LUA, controlled land. Even our independent constitution and the petroleum, although motivated by greed, allowed the people the land surface right, and made oil a property of the federal government, yet oil is entrapped in land and cannot be exploited without access to land.
Upon the advent of the LUA, which was claimed to solve the problem of land speculation and make land available for developmental programmes of the government, the people were divested of their right of ownership of land, thereby depriving them of the choice of who acquires the land, adequate compensation and invariably losing their source of livelihood. The LUA has failed to meet the human security of Nigeria. The trusteeship of the Governor, have had 32 years to work, but have controlled to fail. Udombana N.J. captured the implication of LUA this,
“with a stroke of military pen, this callous and arm-twisting law snatched from individuals, families, villages, and other ethnic nationalities their inalienable right to property and source of livelihood and turned them into beggars. With bowels in their hands, as all beggars do, Nigerians now go to the governor or the appropriate officer to obtain crumbs’ of lands for housing, agricultural or other developmental purposes. This is not just a pity it is a danger”.[149]
The Nigerian people still stand the risk of losing the crumbs of land, if fortunately or unfortunately, mineral resource is discovered on the land, on grounds of public interest.
       Against this background, the Niger deltans are crying for control of their land and resources entrapped therein. According to Mr. Luke Igbinedion[150]

“resource control means that if I as a Bini man goes to Kebbi state and find gold, the resource  should belong to me and not the state or federal government. All I owed the federal government is to pay taxes and royalities. The same principle should apply if a kana man comes to Edo, Delta or Bayelsa and strikes oil. He only pays royalities and taxes to the state or the federal government.

This is the nitty-gritty of our private law jurisprudence and succinctly stated by Hon Justices Niki Tobi (JCA) (as he then was) in Abraham v. Ohorunfumi[151] that in so far as the property is his and inheres in him nobody can say anything. He is the alpha and Omega of the property, the property begins with him and also ends with him. Prof Utuama[152] is of the view that the demand for resource control is the wish of the Niger Delta region to exercise the legal right to control manage, use, enjoy and abuse the natural resources located in the Niger Delta region”.
       We therefore, recommend the immediate repeal of the land use Act, and another law made that will reflect the actual owners of land as the individual owners. Secondly, the section 44(3) of the 1999 constitution and section of the Petroleum Act, should be amended to reflect the true meaning of federalism and the maxims cuis est sohm euus est usque ad caclun et ad inferos and quic quid plantabur solo solo cedit, which will vest land and resources entrapped therein on the people. The government should place tax duties on the oil revenue and not to take over the oil until this is done, we are still far from uhuru of restiveness and injustice in Nigeria. There cannot be peace in mist of injustice. Do justice and peace will naturally flow.
5.       New Thoughts on the Environment and Human Right-The Niger Delta

We did not inherit the world for our fathers. We borrowed it for our children.
-        Ijaw proverb.
Over half a century of oil exploitation in the Niger Delta had  been a thing of economic sustenance to the successive Nigerian governments, but a reproach to the oil bearing communities. The oil companies have no respect for the environment and that their practices of eco-terrorism continue to threaten the survival life and bio-Diversities in the Niger Delta Region. Oil activities have turned the Niger Delta environment to an episode of folktales of a beautiful environment with various bio-diversity, a visit to Olobiri, the first part of oil discovery in commercial quantity, will live one only with a sight of a land ravished by merciless rapist and left without medical attention for only thing if can show for is a rusty sign post indicating the departed glory of shell, and sign-post ably guarded by overgrown weeds. The picture is not different with other parts of the region. Chief Tom Tompolo, said about his community that
‘I have been on this land since I was born; I am more than 90 year old. I am as old as this town. When I was young things were so much easier then now, if you s et a trap to catch fish your catch would fill a basket and you could feed lot of people. When the oil companies came to our land, we thought we would enjoy more but now we are suffering. There are no more fishes in our rivers; bush animals are no longer in our area as a result of oil exploration and gas flaring. You have come to our land and have seen our sorry state—for more than 30 years there has been no good drinking water. No good fish and food. We all have been suffering here since the oil companies came to this land.[153]       

The oil activities have led to the contamination of streams and rivers, deforestation and disappearance of biodiversity. The negative effect of oil spill and gas flaring is not left out. Gas flaring is a major contributor to global warming as the industries emit methane, and other poisonous chemicals like nitrogen di oxides, sulpher di oxide, rolatile organic compounds like benzene, toluere, xylere and hydrogen sulfide, as well as carcinogens like berzapyrene and dioxin.[154] These chemicals also cause respiratory problems like asthma, and also cancer. Gas Flaring also put perpetual sunshine for both day and the night in the region, through the flames from the oil drilling sites.    spills have rendered most arable planes of the region unclutivatable, and had killed the fishes in the rivers and streams, thereby hitting the people at where it hurts most as the people are predominantly farmers and fisherman.
Obidiwe,[155] describing the sorry state of the region said;

“everything that makes like safe in the region is polluted; the air they breathe is polluted, water they drink is polluted. The ponds where they catch fish are polluted, therefore the fishes, which they eat, are polluted. Even the houses where they live are polluted right from the roof to their very foundation”.     
       However, Nigeria have legislations for the protection of the environment from oil pollution are very impressive, but on the other hand, the implementation of these provisions for sustainable development still leaves much to be desired. Nigerian statutes for the protection of environment include petroleum Act, oil in Navigable waters act cap of LFN 2004, Oil Pipeline Act.
       These legislations are characterized with a lot of technicalities in the area of compelling the oil companies to prevent pollution and on the compensation for oil pollution.
       Regulation 36[156] requires the operator or licensee to carry out his operations in a proper workmanlike manner in accordance with good oil field practice. The Act did not define what it meant by good oil field practice.[157]
       Victims of oil pollution who intend to ventilate their rights go through paragraph 36 schedule 1 of the petroleum Act, Regulation 21 and 23 of the petroleum (Drilling and production) Regulations, which all provided for fair and adequate compensation; and who determines it? Therefore a litigant will have to battle with scientific and technical terms to obtain remedy, which they are usually untutored in.
       Most litigants have reverted to the remedies available in law of tort of nuisance, negligence, and the rule in Ryland and fletcher. Except for the later, victims of the first two modes and average claimants are usually frustrated in oil spillages cases. Under the tort of negligence, the burden of proof is put on the plaintiff, but this burden is always difficult to discharge without special knowledge, which as average plaintiff lacks.[158]
       Under the tort of nuisance, the problems of public nuisance[159] have been relaxed in our law.[160] However it is still not easy to establish in the oil industry.
       It however, appears that the best means of obtaining remedy from the oil companies through the court is the rule in Ryland V. Fletcher for ‘non-natural use of land. In Otuku 5 Ors. v. Shell & 3 Ors.[161] the plaintiffs recovered damages for the escape of oil wastes which damaged the plaintiffs drinking well and fish panda killing fishes. Unfortunately, the rule in Ryland V. Fletcher is now characterized with numerous exception, which divests it of its potency of strict liability.
       To save the soul of Niger delta and her people, we recommend that oil pollution cases should now come to court through the fundamental Right (enforcement procedure) Rules 2009, which is much liberal. This is because, the 1999 constitution guarantees every one’s right to life and dignity of human person in its section 33 and 34 respectively. The constitution in its section 46(1), and order II rule I of the fundamental Right (enforcement procedure) Rules 2009 states that any person who alleges that any of his right has been, is being or is likely to be infringed, may apply to the court in the state where the infringement occurs or is likely to occur for redress.
       We therefore submit that oil pollution; spillage and gas flaring are of such a nature to likely infringe on a person’s right to life. Secondly, when people living in the Niger Delta are unconditionally subjected to drink polluted water, eat polluted food air and exposed to diseases, is likely to infringe on the person’s right to life; and the scenario is of a nature demeaning to human nature, and therefore, likely to infringe on the individual’s right to dignity of human person.

6.       Conclusion

There is a tide in the affairs of men which at the flood leads unto festure, omitted of all voyage of their lives, is bound in shallow and mysteries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, we must take the current while it serves or lose our life!
William Shakespeare                                                                  
We conclude by urging the government to look towards this direction of our jurisprudence to save the soul of the nation. There can never be peace in the midst of injustice. Von Savagin had noted that the law grows with growth and strengthen with the strength of the people and finally dies away as the nation loses its nationality.[162]
Nigeria must equally allow our law to grow with the people. Since society is always forward-looking, law as  an instrument of social change should be progressive. The laws which deserve changes as we recommended should be changed. This is because some of them are now mere imposition and Prof Chukwuemerie had noted that

As an imposition it cannot be sustained for all times, not even with the fiercest use of the federal right. It can definitely not be sustained for so by on the face of the determined social and popular quest for a change. A legal framework perceived as unjust and anachronistic cannot be long sustained. The will of a people at the end of the day will normally win over force however awesome or brutal the force may be --- the important thing is that, the country and indeed any country ought to enthrone a legal framework that would work justice on all sides.[163]         

2. Ibid   
1 20, 000 Km2  of it being wetland formed primarily by sediment deposition, the largest in Africa , and among   the largest in the worl
2 Niger Delta 
3 Environmental issues in the Niger Delta   http/
4 Chukwuemerie A.I.
5 although not in commercial quantity  
6 The price of oil, file”  “ comitial kingsley/shell/the%20 price%20oil/ok%20AND% NATURAL
1 Chukwuemerie A.I (supra) P. 654
2 This is seen in section 1 of petroleum Act of 1969, section 44 (3) of the 1999 Constitution which   vests all oil resources in, upon, under any land or in after in Nigeria territory on the federal government.  
3 Sagay .I. “Nigeria Federalism, the constitution and resource control”. (visited 2010, August 23).
4 section 140 of 1963 Republican constitution. This revenue was both for on shore and offshore derivation within the region.
5 The constitution (distribution pool Account etc) Decree No 13, of 1970. however, section 4 (alb) of the offshore Decree No 9 of 1971 abolished the derivation of states of revenue from offshore resources, making it exclusively to the federal government.
6 The constitution (financial provision) Decree No 16 of 1975,
7 A.G Federation v. AG Abia state and 35ors (2002) 6 NWLR (pt 164) 543-905
8 Akwa Ibon, Bayelsa, Cross River , Delta, Lagos , Ogen, Ondo and Rivers states.
9 Utuama A.A. “Challenges of democracy and the pale of law” www.NigerDelta 2010, August 21).  
10 Conflict in the Niger Delta (supra).
11 Who are normally refered to as the Ogoni Nine
12 the common wealth suspended Nigeria , the us, UK and EU placed sanctions on Nigeria too.
13 This is the adulterated oil that is commonly, called “Asari fuel”. 
14 Although the government called it unconditional parton, but we do not perceive it as such, they actually said ‘lay down your arms and embrace freedom.’ The condition there is lay down your arms.
15 Amnesty international: Nigeria ; Oil, proventy and violence. Ai index: AFR 44/017/2006 (public), August 2006. NGAFR440172006
16 ICE case studies. Ogoni and Nigeria : Conflict over oil. 
17 The Federal State section 44 (3) of 1999 CFRN section 1 of the petroleum Act, Cap p10 LFN 2004.
18 section 1 of the land use Act, cap 15 CFN 2004
19 Organization of petroleum Exporting countries.
20 Chukwuemerie A.I.: New Dimensions in commercial and oil and Gas lows (Enugu Chengbo limited. 2007) p.     682-735
21  kid P. 723
22    During the first Republic power, was concentrated on the regions, and there were development of was in the  
      east, cocoa in the west and ground not in the north  
23 Ibid
24   Ibid P 731
25    Rarl polanyi quoted by Prof uaboggunke A. at the presidential technical committee on housing and urban
     development state holder forum November 2007.   
26  Meaning, he who owns the land owms everything extending to the heavens and to the depth of the earth.     
27  whatever is attached to the ground becomes part of it
28  (1981) 68  sc 99 at 146, Francis v. Ibitoye (1936) I SNLR P. II; Adam V. Ikharo (1988) NWLR Pt. 89 P. 471
29    common wealth V. Vew south wales (1923) 33 CLR 1923 - _ftnref21 
30    silver and Gold (31) cases of mines (1567) I plowed 316, 75 at 472  
31     this context, the Nigerian people.  
32  Prof. Anagayi; “who owns papa’s land and oil in Nigeria ”. www
     (visited 2010, April 3).     
33  David Dafinoue; Resources control: the economic and political Dimensions” (urhobo history) www. Waddo. Org/dafinone. Htm (visited 2010, April  23).   
34 Udosubana N.J “weighted in the balance and found wanting, Nigeria ’s land use Act and human rights”.
35   luking Igbinidion addressing news reporters after the southern states governors’ third summit in Benin city ,
     march 27 2001.    
36 (1991) 1 NWLR (P.165) P.53
37 Utuama AA. Challegemes of democracy al the Rule of law (supra) 
39  (supra)
40   production Drilling and Regulation; petroleum Act 1969  
41 In case of Anthony Alubin U. shell  BP (unreported) suit No UHC/48/47 delivered on 12/11/74 , where chemicals from the defendants company escaped and destroyed fishes in the plaintiffs’ lake and farmlands. The court held that the plaintiffs could not prove any negligence on the part of the defendant in the escape   
42  Anthony Alubin V. shall BP (supra)
43    Amos V. shell BP (unreported) smile No PHC/45/1972
44     Adediran V. interland transport (1991) 9 NWLR (PE 214) P. 155
45      (unreported) suit No BHC/193/85
46  Eqwumso JN. Focus on law and jurisprudence Enugu ,  Academic publishing (company, 2007) P. 166.
47     Chukwuuemerie  (supra) P. 731

[1] Petroleum industry in Nigeria; http/ industry in Nigeria/htm. (visited 20/8/2010 ) this citation is not complete. I believe there should be an author of the article on Wikipedia
[2] Ibid.
[3] 1969, now cap P.10 LFN 2004.
[4] 1956, now cap. 07 LFN 2004.
[5] 1968, now cap 06 LFN 2004.
[6] 1978, now cap L5 LFN 2004.
[12] It is estimated that there are about 606 oil fields in the Niger Delta, of which 360 or 60% of them are onshore and 246 or 40% are off-shore, see Francis Oluyemi Fagbohun, “Dividends of Democracy of the Rural Population: The Case of the Niger Delta in Nigeria”, in Victor Ojakorotu (ed.) Fresh Dimensions in the Niger Delta Crisis in Nigeria, (JAPSS Conflict & Development Series, USA: JAPSS press, 2009), p.208.
[13] See Amnesty International, Nigeria: Petroleum, Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta, 2009 (Index: AFR 44/017/2009), p.11.
[14] As of 1960, Nigeria heavily relied on agriculture to run its economy. For instance agricultural products constituted approximately 80% of total national exports; this was however to gradually and progressively change over the years in favour of oil exports. See Mogues, Tewodaj, Agricultural Public Spending in Nigeria, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington/D.C.: IFPRI, 2008, (IFPRI Discussion Paper; No. 00789), available on-line at (6.1.2009)
[15] Id.
[16] See Akpobibibo Onduku, the Lingering Crisis in the Niger Delta: Field Work Report (n.d), p. 3, available online at www…………citing Anyakwee Nisirimovu, Executive Director, Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in “Poverty in Wealth: Report on the People of the Niger Delta and the display of poverty in Wealth”, Port Harcourt, September 2000, p. 3. (arguing that the advent of oil business actually ushered in high degradation of the Niger Delta environment, poverty, high levels of corruption of government officials and mismanagement of oil revenues). See also Annegret Mahler, infra, n.16, p.5 (stating that “indeed, 50 years of substantial oil production have not resulted in sustainable socioeconomic development in the country. The poverty rate today is extremely high, with 50 percent of the population living on less than US$1 per day; in fact, the current poverty rate exceeds that of the period before the first oil boom in the 1970s, which was 35 percent. The national social and transport infrastructure is in a desolate condition, and the country is marked by chronic internal instability and periodic flareups of violent conflict).
[17] Statistics of Nigeria’s increasing dependence on oil revenues are derived from the data of percentage of oil exports with respect to the total national exports of the country since 1960. The statistics shows that the percentage of oil exports to the total national exports in 1963 was 11%, in 1965 25%, in 1970 58%, in 1975 93%, in 1981 97%, in 1991 97%, in 2000 99% and in 2006 98%. See Annegret Mahler, Nigeria: A Prime Example of the Resource Curse? Revisiting the Oil-Violence Link in the Niger Delta, GIGA Research Programme (Violence & Security) Working Paper, No. 120, January, 2010, p. 14.    
[18] See Richard Auty, Sustaining Development in Mineral Economies, The Resource Curse Thesis, (London: Routledge, 1993); see also Jeffery Sachs, et al, “The Curse of Natural Resources”, European Economic Review, Elsevier, (2001) Vol. 45, 46, pp. 827838 (both arguing in support of the claim that resource wealth is linked to poor economic growth and other economic and political problems,  such as poor performance of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors accompanied by an insufficient degree of diversification and extreme vulnerability towards external shocks, as well as corruption and political instability).
[19] See Ike Okanta & Oronto Douglas, Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights, & Oil, 61-63 (2003), cited in Amy Sinden, “An Emerging Human Right to Security from Climate Change: The Case Against Gas Flaring in Nigeria”, in William C.G. Burns & Hari M. Osofsky, (eds.), Adjudicating Climate Change: Sub-National, National, And Supranational Approaches, (Cambridge University Press, 2008)
[20] According to statistics, as at 2006 Nigeria had earned over $ 400 billion as oil revenues since the early 1970s. See Hassan Tai Ejibunu, (Ronald H. Tuschl, ed.), Nigeria’s Niger Delta Crisis: Root Causes Of Peacelessness, EPU Research Papers, Issue 07, 2007, p.6,  citing International Crisis Group, Nigeria: Want in the Midst of Plenty (Africa Report No. 113, 19 July, 2006, p.1). Another report puts the total oil revenues which have accrued to Nigeria since the 1960s at $600 billion. See, G. Wurthmann, “Ways of Using the African Oil Boom for Sustainable Development”, African Development Bank, Economic Research Working Paper Series, No. 84, March 2006.  
[21] See G. M. Bubou,  A. C. Brent and  C. Tredoux, “Towards Assessing The Social Sustainability Performance Of The Petroleum Industry In The Niger Delta Region Of Nigeria”, South African Journal of Industrial Engineering May 2009 Vol. 20(1): p. 119.  See however, The Climate Justice Programme & Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Gas Flaring in Nigeria: A Human Rights, Environmental, and Economic Monstrosity (2005) [hereinafter Gas Flaring Report], available at (arguing that the daily production was as much as 2.5 billion barrels).
[22] See Akpobibibo Onduku, Op. cit., n.15, p.3 (stating the daily revenue accruing to government from crude oil to be $20 million); see however, Hassan Tai Ejibunu, (Ronald H. Tuschl, ed.), Op. cit., n.19, p.12, citing Tumi Makagbo, CNN, Inside Africa aired on 2nd October, 2004,, accessed June 26, 2007 (which claims that the revenue per day from oil is up to $100 million).
[23] Shell Petroleum Development Company SPDC, British Petroleum dominates Nigeria’s oil sector by at least 55% of the industry. It started acquiring exploration licenses in the country since 1938. See, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) (2001): Democracy in Nigeria: Continuing dialogue(s) for nationbuilding, (Capacitybuilding Series; 10) Stockholm: IDEA, p. 241.
[24] See Tom O’Neill, Curse of the Black Gold: Hope and Betrayal in the Niger Delta, National Geographic (Feb. 2007), available at
[25] See Nigerian Conservation Foundation, WWF UK and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, with Federal Ministry of Environment (Abuja), “Niger Delta Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration Project Scoping Report”, May 2006, and UNDP, Niger Delta Human Development Report, 2006.
[26] In the 1970s all the three National Development Plans were directly tied to the revenue accruable to the government during the planned period. The nation’s industries which were built in the 1970s and 80s like the Ajeokuta Steel Industry, national monuments and even the nation’s new capital built in the 1990s which is still continuing are all products of the revenue derived from crude oil. The importance of oil revenues to the existence of present day Nigeria can clearly be assessed by the link between national budget implementation and volatility of international oil prices. See Annegret Mahler, Op. cit. n. 15, p.14. see also Ajiboye Olanrewaju Emmanuel et al,  “Poverty, oil exploration and Niger Delta crisis: The response of the youth”, African Journal of Political Science and International Relations Vol. 3 (5), May, 2009, p. 224
[27] See G. M. Bubou,  A. C. Brent and  C. Tredoux, Op. cit., n.20, p. 120.
[28] See Hassan Tai Ejibunu, (Ronald H. Tuschl, ed.), Op. cit., n.19, pp. 11-12, citing Ken Saro-Wiwa, Corruption in High Places, accessed June 27, 2007
[29] UNDP, Niger Delta Human Development Report, 2006
[30] Id.
[31] See Amnesty International, Op. cit., n.12, p. 9
[32] Tumi Makagbo, CNN, Inside Africa aired on 2nd October, 2004,, accessed June 26, 2007.
[33] Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). 2006. Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan – popular version. NDDC, Port Harcourt.
[34] Amnesty International, Op. cit., n.12, p. 9
[35] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Niger Delta Human Development Report, 2006, p74.
[36] Id.
[37] Id.
[38] Nigerian Conservation Foundation, WWF UK and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, with Federal Ministry of Environment (Abuja), “Niger Delta Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration Project Scoping Report”, May 2006.
[39] As a result of the sheer volume of oil exploration and related activities such as oil pipeline networks in the Niger Delta, it is estimated that about 6, 817 oil spills occurred in the Niger Delta between 1976 and 2001 (about one a day for 25 years). See Amy Sinden, Op. cit., n.18, p. 3. However, this estimate is considered as highly conservative, as some experts put the figure at ten times higher. See Tom O’Neill, Curse of the Black Gold: Hope and Betrayal in the Niger Delta, National Geographic (Feb. 2007), available at In fact a CIA Report in the 1990s estimated that the amount of oil spilled in the Niger Delta was already ten times the amount of the Alaskan Exxon-Valdez spill. See Douglas Farah, Nigeria’s Oil Exploitation Leaves Delta Poor, Poisoned, WASH. POST A22 (Mar. 18, 2001). A group of independent environmental and oil experts visiting the Niger Delta in 2006 put the figure for oil spilt, onshore and offshore, at 9 to 13 million barrels of oil over the past 50 years, see Niger Delta Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration Project, Phase I Scoping Report, May 2006, conducted by Nigerian Conservation Foundation, WWF UK and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, with Federal Ministry of Environment (Abuja).
[40] The practice of gas flaring has been on in the Niger delta since oil production started in the 1950s, see IKE OKANTA & ORONTO DOUGLAS, WHERE VULTURES FEAST: SHELL, HUMAN RIGHTS, & OIL 61-63 (2003). It is estimated that the MNOC operating in Nigeria flare about 75% of the natural gas produced in Nigeria. See The Climate Justice Programme & Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Gas Flaring in Nigeria: A Human Rights, Environmental, and Economic Monstrosity (2005)[hereinafter Gas Flaring Report], available at Gas flaring is the 24/7 burning of the natural gas associated and extracted with crude oil, which reaches hundreds of feet into the sky, killing the surrounding vegetation with searing heat, emitting a deafening roar, and belching a cocktail of smoke, soot, and toxic chemicals into the air, usually resulting in the condition known as acid rain. The Niger Delta produces 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil every day, and most of the associated 2.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas is burned off into the atmosphere, see the Gas Flaring Report, id. A Report by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) indicated that ‘‘everyday, eight million cubic feet of natural gas are burned off in flares that light the skies across the Delta, not only driving off 5 cms, hunting the fishing and poisoning the agriculture, but contributing to global warming”. See Hassan Tai Ejibunu, (Ronald H. Tuschl, ed.), Op. cit., n.19, p.14 citing Comet Nigerian Newspaper, March 21, 2001, p.12. Indeed, in 2001, forty percent of all the natural gas burned throughout Africa was attributable to gas flaring in Nigeria and the country’s gas flaring has contributed more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than all of sub-Saharan Africa combined. See the Gas Flaring Report, id.
[41] These are wastes produced from the different phases of oil production and indiscriminately disposed of, in the environment. For example, Shell SPDC in a 2006 report disposed of about 481 tonnes of waste water and 16,885,000m3 of produced water in the environment and especially surface water. See SPDC, People and the Environment, 2006, p18.
[43] See Hassan Tai Ejibunu, (Ronald H. Tuschl, ed.), Op. cit., n.19, p. 16.
[44] In Nigeria, crude oil is hardly processed within the country. Nigeria currently imports almost 85 percent of the refined oil products it uses. While the capacity of the four existing stateowned refineries is completely insufficient, so far no private refinery exists in Nigeria. See Energy Administration Information (2009): Country Analysis Briefs – Nigeria, p.4 (Last Updated May 2009), available at (5.5.2009).
[45] See Amnesty International, Oil in the Niger Delta, available at
031105actioneng (15.1.2009)
[46] See Robert Kappel, Strukturanpassungsma├čnahmen und ihre Auswirkungen in Nigeria, in: NordS├╝d aktuell, 5 (4. Quartal 1991), 4, pp. 587602. Cited in Annegret Mahler, Op. cit., n.16, p.18.
[47] Ben E.  Aigbokhan, “Reconstruction of Economic Governance in the Niger Delta Region in Nigeria: The Case of the Niger Delta Development Commission”, in Karl Wohlmuth & Tino Urban, Reconstructing Economic Governance after Conflict in Resourcerich African Countries,  (Berlin: LIT, 2007), pp. 195.
[48] Hutchful E. Oil Companies and Environmental Pollution in Nigeria, (In Political Economy of Nigeria, (ed.) Claude Ake, (London: Longman Press 1985). The domination of the oil wealth produced from the region by non-Deltans has also fuelled resentment and anger amid claims that the oil of the region is being stolen by other groups, leaving the source of the wealth to wallow in paradoxical poverty. See Ebeku, Kaniye, 2008. “Niger Delta Oil, Development and the New Development Initiative: some reflections from a socio-legal perspective,” Journal of Asian and African Studies, Vol. 42, No. 399, pp.300-303
[49] Annegret Mahler, Op. cit., n. 16, p.16.
[50] See A. E. Ogbuigwe, “The Law and Environment; The Niger Delta Challenge”, Port Harcourt Law Journal, 1999, p.94.
[51] s. 134 of the 1960 constitution. See also s.140 of the 1963 Republican constitution.
[52] See Decree No. 13 of 1970. See generally, Hemen P. Faga, “Taming the Tiger in the Niger Delta: th Role of Law in the Niger Delta Question: Whither?” Akungba Law Journal, vol. 1:2, 2008, p.306
[53] See The Niger Delta: Phoenix of Nigerian Democracy, Vanguard Book Series, in Vanguard Newspaper, Monday, January 22, 2000, p.27.
[54] See A. E. Ogbuigwe, op. cit., n.52, p.94. See also United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): Niger Delta Human Development Report, (2006),  Abuja: UNDP.
[55] s.162 of the 1999 CFRN
[56] See Hassan Tai Ejibunu, (Ronald H. Tuschl, ed.), Op. cit., n.19, p. 18.
[57] These states are: Rivers, Akwa Ibom,  Bayelsa, Delta (these four states get the majority of the revenue), Edo, Abia, Cross Rivers, Ondo and Imo.
[58] A. A. Brisibe, African Tradition “The Identity of a People: With Special Focus on Globalization & Its Impact in the Niger Delta” C.O.O.L Conference, Boston, U.S.A, March 18, 2001, p.1
[59] Human Rights Watch (2007): Chop Fine, The Human Rights Impact of Local Government Corruption and Mismanagement in Rivers State, Nigeria, January, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2007), pp.32-33. The authors especially accentuated the socalled “security vote,” a voluminous pool of state funds at the local, state, and federal levels (which in some cases exceeds the budget for health or education) meant for the nebulous purpose of maintaining peace and security. In practice the allocation of these funds is not at all controlled, and it is reported that in Port Harcourt “many local government chairs […] will give half of the [security vote] money in the name of ‘empowerment’ to youth they use as thugs and the rest goes into their own bank accounts” id, 33.
[60] Various top officials of the federal government have admitted the monumental corruption of state governors in the oil producing region who receive the highest allocation from the federation account each month. See confession of Minister of finance, Esther Nenadi Usman in 2007; N. E. Usman, ‘‘Governors Waste Monthly Allocations’’ in Corruption in High Places, available at (accessed July 01, 2007). The former Head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, estimated that in 2003, 70 per cent of oil revenues, more than $14 billion was stolen or wasted. See See Nigerian Oil, Curse of the Black Gold in http://www7.national (accessed July 01, 2007)
[61] Apart from the so-called security vote which serves as a conduit for siphoning state funds, governments at all levels in Nigeria engage in frivolities which better serve their personal interests rather than addressing the real needs of the people. For instance, the Rivers state government had a budget of $1.3 billion in 2006. It included transportation fees of $65,000 a day for the governor’s office; $10 million for catering, gifts and souvenirs; $38 million for two helicopters, and health services in the entire state received only $22 million. See N. E Usman, id.
[62] A leader of the foremost militant group operating in the region, the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), General God’s Will confirmed to Jeff Koinage of CNN that they were fighting for liberation of the Niger Delta and against bad governance. See CNN.Com “ Nigerian Kidnappers Release Hostages”, February 13, 2007, (accessed July 01, 2007)
[63] The Willink Commission was a commission appointed by the colonial Office in London in september 1957, to inquire into the fears of the minorities and the means of allaying them. The Commission made the following recommendations on the Niger delta among others:

• that the Niger Delta people have peculiar problems, which arose out of the difficulties of their terrain and therefore, the region should be regarded as a special area;

• there should be inserted in the concurrent list of the constitution of the country a clause for the development of special areas, to enable the federal government to gazette, from time to time areas designated as special areas and make special plans for their development in collaboration with the regional (now states) governments

See, Report of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta, vol. 1, 2008, pp.15-16. The Technical Committee on the Niger Delta was set up in September 2008 by the late President Umaru Musa Yar` Adua, to collate and review all past reports, starting from the 1958 Willinks’ Report, appraise their recommendations and make other proposals that will help the Federal Government to achieve sustainable development, peace, human and environmental security in the Niger Delta region. See generally, Precious –Ann Ahiarammunnah, “Oil Companies: Legislation on Corporate Social Responsibility and Peace in the Niger Delta”, Ebonyi State University Law Journal, vol. 2, No. 1, 2007, p. 191
[64] The government has established so far about four special agencies for the development of the Niger Delta region since 1960, including presently a federal ministry for the Niger Delta. These agencies include the Niger Delta Development Board established under section 159 of the 1960 constitution, the Niger Delta River Basin Authority established in 1976, the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) established in 1992 and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which replaced OMPADEC in 2000. The Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was established in 2008 by late President Yar`Adua. For a comprehensive analysis of the political intrigues and nuances of the government in the effective financing of the various agencies and sincerity in the development of the Niger Delta, see, Hemen P. Faga, Op. cit., n. 54, pp. 301-305.
[65] see The Guardian Newspaper “Niger Delta: Government Must Dump Past Deceptive Tactics”, available at, accessed July 06, 2007 (particularly statement credited to Akanna Campbell, Executive Secretary, South-South Community Development Union (SSCDU), a Niger Delta research group); see generally, Hassan Tai Ejibunu, (Ronald H. Tuschl, ed.), Op. cit., n.19, pp. 19-20. See also Hemen P. Faga, id, and Victor Ojakorotu, “The Internationalization of Oil Violence in the Niger Delta of Nigeria”, Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 2008, pp. 106-108.
[66] The intractable instability in the Niger Delta has led past governments to establish committees to make recommendations on how best to tackle the problems of the region. Some of these committees include the following:- the Belgore Judicial Committee 1992; the Don Etiebet Inter-Ministerial Fact-Finding Team 1994; Vision 2010 Committee 1996; Popoola Committee 1998; the Ogomudia Special Security Committee on Oil Producing Areas 2001; Presidential Panel on National Security 2003; the Niki Tobi National Political Reform Conference 2005 and the Presidential Council on the Social and Economic Development of the Coastal States 2006. See Precious –Ann Ahiarammunnah, Op. cit., n.65, p.192.
[67] The present government has so far set up the following committees to address the Niger Delta issue: President Umaru Musa Yar`Adua’s Technical Committee on the Niger Delta 2008 and the Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament of Militants in the Niger Delta, 2009, including the Amnesty Implementation Committee 2009. See Tell Magazine, “Securing a Troubled Region: Amnesty Proclamation Pursuant to Section 175 of the Constituion of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, August 17, 2009, No. 33, p.53.
[68] The United Nations and its specialized agencies have also at various times made recommendations on the Niger Delta. For instance, the United Nations established the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Situation in Nigeria in 1997 and the UNDP has issued several reports, including United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): Niger Delta Human Development Report, 2006, Abuja.
[69] Traditionally, land is spiritually and structurally interwoven with the lives of the people of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. See, Kaniye Ebeku, “Oil and the Niger Delta People: The Injustice of the Land Use Act,” Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law Policy Journal Vol. 9, 2001, University of Dundee, available at (accessed October, 16, 2010)
[70] Id.
[71] The history of government’s appropriation of ownership of oil resources dates backs to the colonial era when the Mineral Oils Ordinance 1914 was promulgated, which vested all mineral oils in the Crown/state. It was sustained until independence and included in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions; thereafter, several other statutes expropriated ownership of oil to the state, such as the Petroleum Act (P10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004), the Exclusive Economic Zone Decree 1978 (now Act 2004) and presently, section 44(3) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
[72] The concept of environmental justice is increasingly seen as the right of residents of an affected community to participate in decisions about a proposed activity that would affect their environment and/or health. In the African context it is all about access to resources and the reasonable participation of the people in the decision making process. See A Obiora Symbolic episodes in the quest for environmental justice(1991) 21/2 Human Rights Quarterly 466 at 477. See also G Mbamalu, C Mbamalu and D Durett Environmental justice issues in developing countries and in the Niger Delta(paper delivered at the International Conference on Infrastructure Development and the Environment, Abuja, Nigeria, 1015 September 2006) at 5.
[73] Rhuks T Ako, “Nigerias Land Use Act: An Anti-Thesis to Environmental Justice”, Journal of African Law, 53, 2 (2009), p.  301.
[74] See Abioye v. Yakubu (1991) 5 NWLR (pt 190) 130 at 223, paras (d)(g) per Obaseki JSC.
[75] See Section 28 of the Act, which provides that land may be appropriated for overriding public interestsdefined to include the requirement of the land for mining purposes or oil pipelines or for any purpose connected therewith. In essence, the inhabitants of the region may be dispossessed of their land whenever their land is required for oil exploration, making them tenants-at-will of the oil industry on land they have owned and inhabited for centuries. The Act thus complemented and completed the intent of previous legislation to grant the federal government exclusive ownership and control of oil resources. See, Rhuks T Ako, Op. cit., n.75, p. 296.
[76] See generally C Ukeje Youths, Violence and the Collapse of Public Order in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria(2001) 26/2 Africa Development 337 at 342.
[77] Section 29(2) of the LUA provides that, where land is revoked by the governor for oil operations, the Minerals Act or the Petroleum Act or any superseding legislation shall apply for the purpose of compensation. Section36 of the Petroleum Act, 20 of the Oil Pipelines Act and 77 of the Minerals Act provides that any person prospecting or mining shall: pay to the holder or occupierof private land such sums as may be fair and reasonable compensation for any disturbance of the surface rights of that owner or occupier and for any damage done to the surface of the land upon which his prospecting or mining is being or has been carried on; and shall compensate the owner for any crops, economic trees, buildings or works damaged, removed or destroyed by him or by his agent or servant. In essence, factors such as the inherent value of the land itself and its expected economic yield or the future economic benefit of trees or property at the time of revocation are not calculated. See generally, Amnesty International, Nigeria: Petroleum, Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta, 2009 (Index: AFR 44/017/2009), p.24 (particularly note 98).
[78] See K. Omeje, High Stakes and Stakeholders: Oil Conflict and Security in Nigeria (2006, Ashgate), at 47.
[79] C. Obi Oil, environmental conflict and national security in Nigeria: Ramifications of the ecology-security nexus for sub-regional peace(Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security occasional paper 1997) at 15. Militarization of the region is achieved at different levels. On the one hand are the activities of armed groups (armed to the teeths) who are often sponsored by politicians and aided by other illegal petro-business activities like oil bunkering; and on the other hand, state security agencies and even private security personnel hired by the MNOC to ensure their safety in the region. See Cyril I. Obi, Oil Extraction, Dispossession, Resistance and Conflict in Nigeria’s Oil-Rich Niger Delta, Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute Research Paper, (draft), 2010, pp. 10-17, available at
[80] These are traditional conflicts which are induced by environmental degradation and which manifest themselves as political, social, economic, religious or territorial conflicts, conflicts over resources or national interests, or any other type of conflict. See G Baechler Transformation of resource conflicts: Approach and instruments(Discussion Forum North-South, basic document no 3), available at: <http://www.ikao> (last accessed 22 October 2007)
[81] R. Ako and O. Oyelade Human rights, the environment and conflict: The case of Nigerias Delta region(paper presented at the Indian Society of International Law Fifth International Conference on International Environmental Law, New Delhi, India, 89 December 2007), conference proceedings vol 2, 900 at 904. See generally, Rhuks T Ako, Op. cit., n.75, p. 290.
[82] The nature of armed groups in the Niger delta is multifarious; they are organised around different nucleuses and themes. However, the central theme in the resistance against the federal government is always the actualization of one form of self-determination or the other, though other themes also drive armed violence in the region. The earliest post-colonial attempt at armed resistance was organised around a secessionist agenda in 1966 led by Adaka Boro in an armed group known as the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF). His attempt at secession failed after 12 days of declaration of the Niger Delta Republic. Several armed groups with a slightly modified agenda; that of restitution (aimed at blocking further alienation, expropriation and environmental degradation) and self-determination in form of economic autonomy of the region, grew and took your roots from the 1990s. It began with the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) in the early 1990s, followed suit by the Ijaw Youth Council, the Niger Delta Peoples’ Volunteer Force led by Asari Dokubo, and eventually the burgeoning armed resistance organisation known as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a conglomerate of almost all the existing armed resistance groups in the Niger Delta led by Henry okah. See Ukoha Ukiwo, “From Pirates” to “Militants”: A Historical Perspective on Anti-Oil Company Mobilization Among the Ijaw of Warri, Western Niger Delta,” African Affairs, Vol. 106, No. 425, 2007; Ike Okonta, “NIGER DELTA: BEHIND THE MASK, Ijaw Militia Fight the Oil Cartel”, in WORLD WAR 4 REPORT 2007,  available at; Cyril Obi, “Enter the Dragon? Chinese Oil Companies & Resistance in the Niger Delta”, Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 35, No. 117, 2008; and Cyril Obi, “The Struggle for Resource Control in a Petro-State: A Perspective from Nigeria”, in Paul Bowles, Henry Veltmeyer, Scarlett Cornilissen, Noela Invernizzi and Kwongleung Tang (eds.), National Perspectives on Globalisation, Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Unfortunately, armed groups in the Niger Delta are not only organised in such neat linear pattern as it may appear; there is considerable rivalry and ethnic proclivity of these armed groups. Most of them started out with the intention of protecting their particular ethnic interests, such as the Ijaw (IYC,), Isoko (IDU), Urhobo (UPU), Itsekiri (INP), Ogbia (MORETO) and Ogonis (MOSOP).there are also frequent internecine inter-ethnic and inter-group wars. See, Aderoju Oyefusi, “Oil and the Propensity to Armed Struggle in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria”, World Bank Policy Post-Conflict Transition Working Paper, 4194, No.8, April 2007, p. 8 (particularly note 15 & 16). These various conflict patterns have been summarised as: “first, conflicts within the community between chiefly rule and various insurgent social groups; second, conflicts between communities over property and territorial control of oil bearing lands or oil installations; third, conflicts engendered by communities struggling to create their own local government or electoral districts as a means of securing access to federal petroleum revenues; and fourth, conflicts in oil producing communities that spill-over into diasporic communities elsewhere in, and outside of the Delta”. See Michael Watts, Ike Okonta and Dimieari Von Kemedi, “Economies of Violence: Petroleum, Politics and Community Conflict in the Niger Delta, Nigeria”, Institute of International studies, University of California Working, No. 1, 2004, p. 4.
[83] Parties to an armed conflict, other than states, are legally classified – ‘along a continuum of ascending intensity’ – as (1) rebels, (2) insurgents or (3) belligerents. Rebellion consists of sporadic challenge to the established government but which remains “susceptible to rapid suppression by normal procedures of internal security’; it is within the domestic jurisdiction of the state. Insurgency is a ‘half-way house between essentially ephemeral, spasmodic or unorganized civil disorders and the conduct of an organized war between contending factions within a State. The material conditions for a condition of belligerency are (1) the existence of an armed conflict of a general character; (2) occupation by the insurgents of a substantial portion of the national territory; (3) an internal organization capable and willing to enforce the laws of war; and (4) circumstances which make it necessary for outside states to define their attitude by means of recognition of belligerency. See Raul C. Pangalangan and Elizabeth H. Aguiling, The Privileged Status of National Liberation Movements Under International Law (Philippine Law Journal, Vol. 58, 1983, pp. 44-65. See generally, Edre U. Olalia, “The Status in International Law of National Liberation Movements and Their Use of Armed Force”, International Association of People’s Lawyers, paper presented at the Annual Board Meeting of the IAPL in Antwerp, Belgium on November 26-28, 2004, p. 2. There is evidence that the Nigerian government considers the militants in the Niger Delta as rebels who are to be crushed by internal security agencies and regulations. See Aderoju Oyefusi, id, p.5. see also Cyril I. Obi, Oil Extraction, Dispossession, Resistance and Conflict in Nigeria’s Oil-Rich Niger Delta, Op. cit., n.81, p. 2.
[84] The Niger Delta states, comprised of Rivers state, Delta state, Belyesa state, Edo state, Abia state, Ondo state, Akwa Ibom state, Imo state and Cross Rivers state.
[85] See generally, Op. cit., n.84 (the main objective of the rebellion was to excise the region from Nigeria; secession).
[86] Cite materials on internal self-determination and Niger Delta agitation
[87] The first of such Declaration was the Ogoni Bill of Rights adopted by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) 1990. The Ogoni, while affirming their wish to remain a part of Nigeria, demand ‘political autonomy’ to participate in the affairs of the country as a ‘distinct and separate entity’ along with a right to the control of a ‘fair proportion’ of their resources for their development. The Bill also demands the right to protect their environment and ecology from further degradation as well as the full development of the Ogoni language and culture. They demand an end to gas flaring and the payment of $10 billion in royalties from oil produced in Ogoniland since 1958 and in compensation for environmental degradation suffered as a result. See Ogoni Bill of Rights, available at (accessed 6 January 2007). See also the Akaka Declaration of the Egi People, the Oron Bill of Rights (1999), the Warri Accord, Resolutions of the First Urhorobo Economic Summit (1998), the Ikwerre Charter of Demand, the Demands of the First Niger Delta Indigenous Women’s Conference (1999) and the manifesto of the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), the Niger Delta Community Defence Law Foundation (CD-LF). The issues canvassed in these various declarations and manifestos include: self determination and political autonomy within Nigeria; restructured federalism; environmental and resource control; social development; social development; international dialogue and solidarity; resolve to resistance; and transparency and accountability. See generally, Hassan Tai Ejibunu, (Ronald H. Tuschl, ed.), op. cit., n.19, pp. 10-11.
[88] Kaiama Declaration (11 December 1998) (accessed 9 October, 2010)
[89] For instance, the meeting of the Ijaw Youth Council that resulted in the Kaiama Declaration was an outcome of about 5000 youths and 25 representative organisations drawn from 40 Ijaw clans in the Niger Delta. See, Cyril Obi, “Youth and the Generational Dimensions to Struggles for Resource Control in the Niger Delta; Prospects for the Nation-state Project in Nigeria” (Monograph Series: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa CODESRIA), 2006, p. 30, available at  
[90] The initial clamour for resource control by the people in the Niger Delta was centred on achieving total economic autonomy of the region, so that only taxes and other contributions would be made to the Federal government. However the local and state authorities have reduced the agitation to simply the politics of derivation of the region from the share of oil revenue derived from the region. The states see nothing wrong with the present regime of laws on the ownership and control of crude oil found in the Niger Delta; their grouse is simply with the increment of the derivation principle in the constitution, which presently stands at 13%. See Oronto Douglas, A Community Guide to Understanding Resource Control, ERA Brief, July 3, 2001, available at; B. Joel, “Niger Delta Youths Dump Resource Control”, Sunday Punch, February 24, 2000. See generally, Cyril Obi, id, p. 40.      
[91] Oronto Douglas, id. (arguing that the people and communities who have lived on the land for centuries and on whose land the resources are found are considered as the first owners of the resources, and should manage and control both the land and resources without foreclosing the spreading of the future benefits of the resources to the non-owners in a manner acceptable to the vision of a greater humanity/community).
[92] The governor was Lucky Igbinedion of Edo state, See David Dafinone, “Resource Control: The Economic and Political Dimension”, Urhobo Historical Society, 12 April 2001, available at
[93] David Dafinone, id. See also Xavier Salai-i-Marta and Arvind Subramanian, “Addressing The Natural Resource Curse: An Illustration From Nigeria”, IMF Working Paper No. 03/139,25, Washington, DC, 2003 (arguing that Nigeria should adopt the Alaska Scheme for the distribution of oil wealth, where a Niger Delta Permanent Fund would be established and one half of it distributed directly to the people in of region as annual cheques, while the remaining half would be invested in profitable ventures for future generations). See generally, Hassan Tai Ejibunu, (Ronald H. Tuschl, ed.), Op. cit., n. 19, pp. 27-28
[94] Various reasons are given why the resource control agenda became prominent on the itinerary of politicians, especially state governors and members of the National Assembly from the Niger Delta region. Some of the reasons are that: it was the popular view of the people at the time and politicians had to key into it to become relevant; the politicians did not have any solid programmes, and the issue became a rallying point; it was a convenient issue to force the federal government to effect constitutional change which would guarantee revenue devolution and increased allocation to the states; and that it was a good weapon through which they could fight the political issue of Sharia in the north of the country.  See OrontoDouglas, Op. cit., n.92.
[95] The agitation was also tagged as a struggle for the enthronement of true federalism, which was interpreted to mean reverting ownership of resources from the federal government to the states and ethnic nationalities which then taxes and remits a proportion to the federal government. For a closer look at the true federalism argument, see Eghosa Osaghae et al, “Youth Militias, Resource Control and Self Determination Struggles in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria”, August 2007, (WWW material) available at:……………….see also O. Douglas, “Discussion”, in T.N. Tamuno, The Niger Delta Question, (Port Harcourt; Riverside communications, 1999), p.66 (discussing the nature of the Niger Delta struggle as one for true federalism “Our struggle is militant without being military. The majority of Nigerians do not want to address the Niger Delta problem. So we must struggle for our rights, our struggle is for democracy. It is for true federation; to control what is ours, to control our resources), id. See Amos Utuama, “The Niger Delta Crisis: The Legal Dimension”, in Victor Ojakorotu (ed.) Fresh Dimensions in the Niger Delta Crisis in Nigeria, (JAPSS Conflict & Development Series, USA: JAPSS press, 2009), pp.19-20; see also A. Utuama, “Challenges of Democracy and the Rule of Law”, (www document ) available at (last visited 21th August 2010), (stating that “a fundamental principle of federalism is that the governments of the federal union are allowed to take their destiny into their hands in the management of their respective administrative autonomy and natural resources within an agreed sovereign competence ceded by the federation for their mutual beneficial purposes”).
[96] Emmanuel Ojameruaye, Quo vadis (Oil) Resource Control in the Niger Delta? Urhobo Historical Society, (2010) available at
[97] The derivation principle is provided in section 162(2) of the constitution. It provides: ‘the president  …shall table before the National assembly proposals for revenue allocation from the federation account, and in determining the formula, the National assembly sall take into account, the allocation principles especially those of population, equality of states, internal revenue generation, land mass, terrain as well as population density; provided that the principle of derivation shall be constatntly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than 13% of the revenue accruing to the federation account directly from any natural resources”.
[98] See sections 134(6) and section 140(6) of the 1960 and 1963 constitutions respectively.
[99] See Hemen P. Faga, Op. cit., n. 54, p.308.
[100] Despite the inclusion in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions of the clause extending the territory of the regions (now states) to the continental shelf for the purpose of derivation, the Supreme Court in the case of A.G. Federation v. A.G. Abia & 35 Ors. (2002) FWLR [Pt. 102] denied the argument of the oil producing states that the territories of their respective states within the federation legally extends to the continental shelf and Exclusive Economic zone so far as such territories are deemed to belong to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In the words of Ogundare JSC pp. 91-97 “….both under the common law and international law, past and present constitutions of Nigeria and statute laws, the territories of a littoral state does not extend to the territorial waters nor the continental shelf nor Exclusive Economic Zone. The correct boundaries of Nigeria ends at the low water mark along the coast. The rights which Nigeria exercises over the territorial waters, contiguous zone and the Exclusive Economic zone are special and limited rights granted under international law for the security of a coastal state. Therefore the deeming of the continental shelf as forming part of a region or state is just a political arrangement to put revenue in the hands of such states (for special reasons), and does not for whatever reason make such area part of the regions or states in law”.     
[101] See Emmanuel Ojameruaye, Op. cit., n. 98.
[102] (2002) FWLR [Pt. 102] 85.
[103] See the reason amongst many others given by the Supreme Court for the decision, Op. cit., n. 102.
[104] See Hakeem O. Yusuf, Oil on troubled waters: Multinational Corporations and Realising Human Rights in the Developing World, with Specific Reference to Nigeria”, African Human Rights Law Journal (2008) 8, p. 88.
[105] Section 1(2) of the Act (Act No. A89, 2004) provides that “as from the commencement of this Act, the 200 metre water depth  isobaths contiguous to a state of the federation shall be deemed to be part of that state for the purpose of calculating the revenue accruing to the federation account from the state pursuant to the provisions of the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, or any other enactment”. See Emmanuel Ojameruaye, The Off-Shore/On-Shore Oil Dichotomy Abolition Act: Matters Arising”, on-line material, available at
[106] The Conference had no mandate to substantially restructure the Nigerian polity by the adoption of a new constitution. See Sunny Ofehe, Resource Control Set to Tear Nigeria Apart, (www document) Online Nigeria (created 16/7/2005) available at
[107] Some of the demands included the repeal of the Petroleum Act, the Land Use Act, the National Waterways Decree and any other law or decree which concentrates too much power in the hands of the national government and contributes to the unequal distribution of oil revenues; the management of the oil business by the states and not by the federal govement; and a true national development plan that is reflective of the national character and not selective development. See Sunny Ofehe, id.
[108] Emmanuel Ojameruaye, Op. cit., n. 98
[109] At the end of its deliberations in July 2005, the National Political Reform Conference made the following recommendations amongst others: (a) an expert commission should be appointed by the federal government to study all the ramifications of the oil industry, including revenue allocation with the view to reporting within a period of not more than six months, how the mineral resources concerned can best be controlled and managed to the benefit of the people of both the states where the resources are located and of the country as a whole; (b) A clear affirmation of the inherent right of the people of the oil producing areas of the country not to remain mere spectators but to be actively involved in the management and control of the resources in their place by having assured places in the federal government mechanism for the management of the oil and gas exploration and marketing; (c) Increase in the level of derivation from the present 13% to 17%, in the interim pending the report  of the expert commission. See, Emma Amaize, “Resource Control: Anger Everywhere”, Vanguard Newspaper (Nigeria), July 3, 2005; see also Emmanuel Ojameruaye, id.
[110] See R. Singer The state of Nigerian democracy, published on 13 January 2006, (www document) available at: <> (last accessed 18 June 2009). Notwithstanding the absence of the South-South delegates, at the closing ceremony, President Obasanjo declared in their absence that,” if a small percentage of conference delegates were not satisfied with the results of the proceedings and staged a walk-out, it was not enough to label the conference a failure”. This statement further depicts the attitude of the majority ethnic groups in the country against minority concerns and oppression. See Obasanjo, Tobi, Declare Confab a Success, published on 25 July 2005, available at: <> (last accessed 20 February 2006). See generally, Rhuks T Ako, Op. cit., n. 75, pp. 302-303.
[111] The government arrested and detained the major militant leaders on charges of treason, like Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari the ‘supreme leader’ of NDPVF and chairman of the Niger Delta People’s Salvation Front NDPSF in 2005 and Henry Okah the leader of MEND who was arrested in Angola and repatriated to Nigeria in September 2007. The arrests of these militant leaders further infuriated the militants and led to more dastard attacks. See N. B. Najibo & Barile Nwiline, “Relative Deprivation and Hostage-Taking in Nigeria’s Niger Delta Region”, in Victor Ojakorotu (ed.) Fresh Dimensions in the Niger Delta Crisis in Nigeria, (JAPSS Conflict & Development Series, USA: JAPSS press, 2009), p.55, at 88. See also J. Shola Omotola, “From Political Mercenarism to Militia: The Political Origin of the Niger Delta Militias”, in Victor Ojakorotu (ed.), id, pp. 110-111.  
[112] The 9 point agenda of the council included (a) the creation of 20, 000 new jobs in the armed forces, police, NNPC and teaching for indigenes of the Niger Delta within three months from April 2006; (b)  commitment of N 230 billion for the construction of the long abandoned East-West (Warri-Mbiama-Port Harcount-Eket-Oron) road; (c) commencement of the dredging of the river Niger; (d) upgrading of the Petroleum Training Istitute (PTI) Effurun in Delta state to a degree awarding university; (e) rural electrification of over 3967 communities; and (f) water supply for over 600 communities among other items.
[113] However on the eve of departure of the administration in May 2007 it established the Federal University of Petroleum Effurun, which was only one of the nine items of agenda outlined by it, for implementation in the Niger Delta. See Emmanuel Ojameruaye, Op. cit., n. 98.
[114] After two years in power, President Yar’Adua realized the futility of a purely military approach to the Niger Delta militancy. The administration in May 2009 inaugurated the Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament of Militants in the Niger Delta (PPADM) and charged it with preparing a step-by-step framework for amnesty and complete Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-integration of the Niger Delta militants (DDR). The panel submitted its report and recommended a N50 billion budget for the amnesty, which commenced on August 6th, 2009 for a 60 day grace within which all militants must surrender their arms and register for the post-amnesty rehabilitation. The government earmarked the sum of N65, 000 to be paid monthly to every militant who surrendered, and promised free vocational training to each of them. At the end of the period, more than 6,000 out of the expected 10,000 militants actually surrendered. See Emmanuel Ojameruaye, id. See also…………………………     
[115] For the mandate of the technical committee, see Op. cit., n.65.
[116] All the recommendations made by the Technical Committee were eventually not fully implemented. For instance, the report of the technical committee recommended an 18 month implementation period beginning with the immediate increase of the derivation principle to 25%, establishment of a Decommissioning, Disarmament and Rehabilitation Commission,  establishment of a direct Youth employment scheme in conjunction with states and local governments, which would employ at least 2000 youths in all communities of the Niger Delta states, and completion of the East-West federal road dualization from Calabar to Lagos. See Emmanuel Ojameruaye, Op. cit.,  See also………………………… Note that none of the above recommendations have been implemented except the feeble attempt of the Federal Government to operationalize the amnesty programme, which nevertheless falls short of the recommendation of the Committee.
[117] See the Abuja bombings and similar militant actions since the later part of 2010.
[118] Get materials on the militant activities and JTF since Goodluck came to power.
[119] State the background of Goodluck, that he is from the region.
[120] Already the resource control mantra has almost altogether disappeared both on the part of the state governments initially championing the struggle and a majority of the militant groups/leaders. See ………………
[121] See generally, Sagay Itse, “Ownership and Control of Nigerian Petroleum Resources: A legal Angle”, in V. E. Eromosele (ed.), Nigerian Petroleum Business: A Handbook, (Lagos, Advent Communications Limited 1997), pp. 176-186. See also Atare Otite, “Niger Delta Ruling Elite and the Under-Development of the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria”, in Victor Ojakorotu (ed.) Fresh Dimensions in the Niger Delta Crisis in Nigeria, (JAPSS Conflict & Development Series, USA: JAPSS press, 2009), p.164-167.
[122] Between 1999 to 2005 alone, the River State Government received a total of N286.395bn; Delta, N331.2b; Bayelsa, N259.8bn; and Akwa-Ibom N238.5bn from the Federation Account as derivation. See N. B. Najibo & Barile Nwiline, Op. cit., n.115, p.64, (citing Tek Olomu, one of the numerous commanders of the dreaded Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta MEND, in an interview with Saturday Sun, December 26, 2006, p.50). Omotola on the other hand controverted these figures, stating that the amount received within the same period was much higher. According to him “ The breakdown is such that Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Ondo, Edo and Cross Rivers States received N384.4 billion, N357.5 billion, N313.6 billion, N285.6 billion, N165.5 billion, N131.5 billion and N126.7 billion respectively. See S. Omotola,  “The Next Gulf? Oil Politics, Environmental Apocalypse and Rising Tension in the Niger Delta” Occasional Paper Series: Volume 1, Number 3, for the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Dispute (ACCORD)
[123] N. B. Najibo & Barile Nwiline, Id, p.65, (citing statement by Anayochukwu Agbo in Tell Magazine of August 27, 2007).
[124] See the statement of Oronto Douglas, one of the signatories to the IYC Kaiama Declaration and deputy director of Environmental Rights Action (ERA) where he state that “communitisation is the final frontier in resource control advocacy and realization. It is based on community self-sufficiency and control in all matters relating to our communities and its ultimate aim is the reclaiming of the misappropriated resources and its return to communal rebuilding and repositioning agenda for our people” see B. Joel, “Niger Delta Youths Dump Resource Control”, Sunday Punch Newspaper, February 24th 2000; see generally, Cyril Obi, Cyril Obi, “Youth and the Generational Dimensions to Struggles for Resource Control in the Niger Delta; Prospects for the Nation-state Project in Nigeria”, Op. cit., n. 92, p.41.  
[125] See Emmanuel Ojameruaye, Op. cit., n.98.
[126] Id.
[127] See F.O. Ayodele-Akaakar, Appraising the Oil & Gas Laws: A Search for Enduring Legislation for the Niger Delta Region, (www document) available at……………..pp.11-12; see also F. O. Ayodele-Akaakar, “Oil and Gas- the Issue of Ownership and the Nigerian Situation”, FJRSB (FIDA Journal) Vol. 2, 199, pp. 61.
[128] Id.
[129] Xavier Salai-i-Marta and Arvind Subramanian, “Addressing The Natural Resource Curse: An Illustration From Nigeria”, IMF Working Paper No. 03/139,25, Washington, DC, 2003, (the authors argue that the criteria for distribution of the endowment should simply be confined to citizenship of a specific age, say 18 or 21, without burdening the process with other externalities such as issues of environmental concern or politics – ‘resource control’ – such matters, according to them could be factored into the process of taxation, which should constitute the only avenue by which government would have access to oil revenue for developmental and administrative purposes), see pp.20-21, id.
[130] Id, (arguing that a permanent fund should be created by cutting back on the production capacity at a particular percentage, to cater for the needs of future generations and issues of environmental degradation) id, pp.19-20.

 [H. P.1]Footnote here, which should state the country which is now Africa’s leading oil producer countries and when it so declared. The source of  the information should equally be referenced
 [H. P.2]You should state the source from which you got this description of the Niger Delta
 [H. P.3]You also need to state the source of  this information
 [H. P.4]Where did you get the contents of this sentence from? Pls reference the source.
 [H. P.5]Cite materials on the curse of oil
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