Nigeria: N Delta – NGO Makes Case for Victims of Environmental Degradation

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FOEN) at the weekend beamed its searchlight on environmental degradation in the Niger Delta saying the Federal Government should give victims adequate compensation.

It also urged the National Assembly to kick off the process of making “a truly Nigerian constitution” instead of amendment on what it described as military constitution through a referendum.
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In a communiqué issued at the end of a one-day Environmental Parliament held in Effurun-Warri, Delta State with the theme: Community Rights to a Safe Environment, it was resolved that “for the rights of individuals and communities to the protection of their environment not to be illusory, there must be adequate compensation for environmental degradation”.

The parliament, according to the resolution signed by Messrs Nnimmo Bassey and Chima Williams, ERA/FOEN’s Executive Director and Project Officer (Democracy Outreach) respectively, also condemned a situation where all the major actors in the Nigerian oil industry, including top Federal Government officials and state governors, in discussing ways to end youths restiveness in the Niger Delta and securing the Gulf of Guinea, would leave Nigeria for the Hague, Netherlands, “one of the polluters of our environment”.

Nigerians, it said, should develop mechanisms for solving problems themselves.

The group also observed that the current trend of the law on damages and compensation is tilted in favour of the polluters and despoilers of the environment who are the defenders in environmental protection litigation.

“The plaintiffs who are always the community people whose environment and livelihoods have been dastardly dealt with by the activities of the polluters may receive no compensation or grossly inadequate compensations as a result of technicalities in the claim for damages and compensation. Even worse is the fact that the courts are more concerned about compensation or no compensation without any consideration for remediation of the environment that has been despoiled”, the communiqué stated.

The parliament also called for a total abrogation of all obnoxious laws such as Land Use Act which militate against the rights of community people to a safe environment.

It added that new laws with input of the communities are necessary to ensure Justice and equity.


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