THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LAW IN NIGERIA
The legal framework/synopsis for applicable environmental law in Nigeria cuts across international agreements/convention/protocols and national laws, regulations and bye laws which apply concurrently. However the concurrent application of these laws on the environment and is inhabitants is not clear cut. During the last three decades or thereabout the emergence of ecological degradation has become an issue of global concern.
Environmental law has been the primary mechanism used to promote natural resources conservation,pollution control and other forms of environmental protection. To achieve the above aim of this field of law, hundreds of international and regional treaties, thousands of national laws a whole lot of administrative regulations has been promulgated by more than 180 states and multilateral organisation such as the UN agencies and international development bank. Environmental law has experienced remarkable growth and high salience since the 1972 stockholm declaration on the human environment. Despite differences in international and national law making processes, no clear boundary demarcates where international environmental law leaves off and national law begins. In many instances, national environment laws have been enacted for the sole purpose of meeting obligations imposed by international agreement. One example is the widespread adoption of environmental impact assesment requirement first imposed by the US National Environmental Policy Act of 1970. The legal framework for environmental law in Nigeria is deeply rooted in a number of laws National and International. Some of these laws includes:
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 contains elaborate provisions on the protection and improvement of the environment and safeguard of water, air and land, forest and wildlife of Nigeria in its Section 20.Similarly Section 16 that the state shall direct its policy towards ensuring promotion of a planned and balanced economic development. Similarly this provision is also contained in Section 17D of the constitution.The only weakness of the constitutional recognition of the protection and improvement of the environment is that it is categorised under the fundamental objectives and Directive Principles of state policy and therefore non-justiceable.
PUBLIC HEALTH ACT.
In 1917 the Public Health Act was made by the whites to protect the environment as this was also for the whites selfish interest.
Section 13 of the Public Health Act provided for the usuage of water and the punishment for it was so poor and it made the law not necessarily effective.
HARMFUL WASTE[SPECIAL CRIMINAL PROVISIONS] ACT CAP 165 LFN 1990 NOW CAP HI LFN 2004.
The harmful waste[special criminal provision] Act was enacted to checkmate the indiscriminate dumping of toxic waste product in Nigeria. This law was an immediate reaction to the dumping of toxic waste product in Nigeria in 1988. Section 15 0f the Act defined harmful waste as “any injurious, poisonous, toxic or noxious substance and in particular includes nuclear waste emitting radioactive substance...”
The offences created in respect thereof ranges from carrying, dumping and depositing of toxic waste. Forfeiture of vessels and of land by and on which harmful waste is dumped and life imprisoned are some of the penalty prescribed for breach of the said law.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT ACT OF 1992
The environmental impact assessment Act of 1992 flows directly from the provisions of principle 17 of Rio declaration and of course remains the core legislation that governs environmental impact assessment in respect of proposal projects of the Act that before the final decision is taken or approval given for any activity likely to significantly affect the environment, the effect of such activity shall first be taken into count.
THE ASSOCIATED GAS RE-INJECTION ACT CAP A25 LFN 2004.
The associated Gas Re-injection Act was enacted as a result of the fact that most of the oil companies in Nigeria were engaged in the flaring gas, which occurs with petroleum and is released when petroleum is carried out.
The Act in its Section 2 goes further to state that no person shall in any animal specified in the second schedule except he compels with the following provisions:
[A] He has obtained an export permit granted by the ministry.
[B] The minister is satisfied that such export will not be detrimental to the survival of that specimen, while Section 2 borders on importation.
Section 4 of the Act empowers the minister to by an order publish in the federal gazette.
[A] Alter the list of animals specified in the first second schedule to the Act by way of addition, substitution or deletion or otherwise handover;
[B] Make different provisions in relation to different species or in respect of exploration, importation or re-expropriatation of animals.
Section 5 of the Act provide that any person who contravens the provisions of the Act shall be guilty of an offense and liable on conviction:
[a] In respect of any specimen under the first schedule to the Act to a fine of 1000 naira.
[b] In respect of any specimen under the second schedule to the Act, to a fine of 500 naira for a first offense and for a second or subsequent offense to imprisonment for six months without the option of a fine.
NATIONAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION COUNCIL ACT, CAP 286, LFN 1990.
This Act established the Natural Resources Conservation council to be responsible for the conservation of natural resources in Nigeria and formulate national policy for natural conservation. Section 3 of the Act provides that the functions of the council shall be to
[a] co-ordinating matters concerning the conservation of natural resources in Nigeria.
[b] Formulate a national policy for natural resources conservation.
[c] It also carry out such other activities calculated to facilitate the effectiveness of the performance of the functions of the council under this Act as in Section 3[e].
Moreover, the Act measures in collaboration with other agencies, control coastal zone development to minimize erosion on the national coastline. As contained in Section 4[e] of the Act. It also designates sites and species of conservation interest as in Section 4[a] of the Act.
NAVIGABLE WATERWAYS(DECLARATION) ACT.
This Act basically declare certain waterways as federal waterways and to make their construction and alteration a matter of federal concern.
It provides lakes, lagoons, and intra-coastal waterways specified in the schedule to this Act are hereby declared navigable waterways. Since rivers, lagoons and include the River Niger, the River Benue, the Cross River from the Nigerian/Cameroon border to the Atlantic Ocean. River Sokoto, Kaduna, Gerinya, Gongolo, Taraba, Donga, Katsina, Ala, Anambra, Ogun, Osun, Oluwaya, Osse, Benin, Imo, and Akwaibo. The intra-coastal route from Badagri, along the forcados River.
Section 3 of the Act provided that “no person, firm, state of corporation may obstruct a declared waterway lake, sand, gravel, or stone from any declared waterway or erect permanent structures within the right of way or divert water from a declared waterways, without the consent of the inland waterways department and the approval of the minister.
The minister is empowered by Section 5 of the Act to by regulations make provisions fro the regulation of user of navigable waterways and for the management, direction and control of navigable as appear to him to be expedient.
FORESTRY ACT, CAP 507, LFN 1990
Section 4 of the Act provides that the president may constitute as government forest reserve some lands in the country.
FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY , CAP 131, LFN 1990.
This Act borders principally on the development and protection of the environment as in Section 4 of the Act.
Section 5[g] of the Act states that “ it shall be lawful for the agency to establish such environment criteria, guidelines specifications or standard for the protection of nations air, and inter state waters as mat be necessary to protect the health of the population from environmental degradation.
This Act also provides the provisions of master plans for the development of science and technology as in Section 4[b] of the Act.
Section 15[i] of the Act provides that the agency shall make recommendation to the ministry for the purpose of establishing waters in Nigeria to protect the public health or welfare and enhance the quality of water to serve the purpose of the Act.
Section 4[h] provides that the agency shall establish such procedures for industrial or agricultural activities in order to immunize damage to the environment from such activities.
Section 17[i] of the Act provides that the agency shall enact more criteria, guideline, specifications and standards to protect and enhance the quality of Nigeria air or welfare and the normal development and productive capacity of the nations human, animal or plant life.
THE KAINJI LAKE NATIONAL PARK ACT.
This Act made provision for the establishment of the kainji National Park and for matters connected therewith, shall be charged with general duty of
a] controlling, managing and maintaining the park. Section 2[i] provides further that it shall ensure the preservation and protection of any objects of the geological, archeological, historical, aesthetic or scientific interest in the park.
Section 2[i] [g] “fostering in the mind of the general public the necessity for wildlife conservation and the importance of wildlife and national parks with the object of developing a greater appreciation of the value of wildlife and science beauty as national assets; Section 8 and 9 provides for the offense of penalty.
According to Section 9, any person who without permit [a] hunts, kills, injures, captures or disturbs any wild animal, reptile or fish.
[b] destroys or remove the nest of any bird or reptile
[c] is in possession of any wild animal, bird or reptile
[d] cuts or sets fire on any vegetation
[e] Removes any other object whether animate or inanimate, shall be guilty of an offense.
ENDANGERED SPECIES (CONTROL OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND TRAFFIC) ACT (NO. 11 , 1985).
This Act provide for conservation and management of Nigeria wildlife and the protection of some of her endangered species in danger of extinction as a result of over exploration, as required under certain international treaties to which Nigeria is a signatory.
Section 1 of the Act provides that “as hunting or commencement of this Act, the hunting or capture of or trade in animal species specified in the first schedule of this Act.... is absolutely prohibited.
The first schedule to the Act provide a long list of animals which such hunting or capture is prohibited.
Section 1 states that no person shall hunt, capture, trade in or otherwise deal with any species specified in the second schedule to this Act.
In conclusion, from the above it could be inferred that the legal framework for environmental protection in Nigeria draws inspiration from so many international laws which has been aforementioned. A turning point in the development of Nigerian environmental law was the event of June 1988.Nigerians were woken up by the news of a dump of toxic waste and radio active waste at the small port town in the then Bendel state which is presently Koko in Delta which killed many Nigerians. The toxic waste took the International Organizations time to correct the hazard done by the toxic waste deposited by Italy to Nigeria. The federal government moved to promulgate the first national law aimed at environmental protection-
THE HARMFUL WASTE (SPECIAL CRIMINAL PROVISION ETC) DECREE NO 43 OF 1988.
In December that same year, the federal government of Nigeria established the Federal Environment Protection Agency(FEPA) through Decree No 58 of 1988. Section 4 vests this Agency with the duty to protect and regulate the environment. On February 12,1992, the Nigeria Conservation Foundation(NCF) also organized a national conference at the National Theatre Lagos taking a look at the environmental conservation in a religious perspective. In 2007, the National Environmental Standard Regulation and Enforcement Agency was established. This Act provides for its establishment and is charged with the responsibility for the protection and development of the environment in Nigeria and for related matters. It replaced the FEPA Act of 1988.