Public and Private Law Instruments for the Protection of the Environment in Nigeria


This work focuses on the use of public and private law in solving environmental problems in Nigeria. It is a fact that the world presently is been threatened by unstable climate conditions, because of many years of man’s many activities that have caused the depletion of the ozone layers. Industrialization, oil exploration activities, dumping of toxic materials on land and sea and other unfriendly environmental practices have led to the condition of our environment, which has garnered attention all over the world. Unfortunately, Nigeria is one of many countries whose greenhouse emission is contributing to environmental challenges, particularly in Africa. Because of the possible risks it poses for rural residents and the detrimental effects it has on the environment, the Koko dumping in the 1980s, which produced a significant uproar, resulted in the enactment of thoughtful environmental protection legislation by Nigeria as a nation. Several years down the line, Nigeria continues to suffer severe environmental degradation not because of inadequate laws but because of institutional failures to act on the laws that empowers them to monitor the activities of individuals and agencies that has the potential of causing environmental harm. Sadly, the Niger Delta region is most severely impacted. This is because of ongoing oil exploration efforts in the area that is seriously threatened by oil spills and gas flare-ups. Due to requests from international corporations, the federal government has kept delaying the expiration date for gas flaring in Nigeria. Unfortunately, because Nigeria’s economy is largely dependent on revenue generated by oil exploration, the Federal government has become a toothless bulldog. More so, under chapter 2 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) Constitution, an individual is not permitted to enforce the right to a healthy environment. This is because it is protected by public law. This work recognises the effort of the judicial arm of government in enforcing most of these rights under private law. In fact, the judiciary has come up with groundbreaking decisions in recent times, where multinational companies are being held accountable for the roles they played in environmental degradation. Communities and people that experienced hardships, lost income, or lost their means of livelihood as a result of environmental contamination have been seen to have received compensation. This paper recommends that Nigeria should key into the global effort at reducing greenhouse emission by being proactive and firm in implementing environmental standards.