STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM: The provision of certain basic social amenities has been the major preoccupation of the Nigeria Government for the past decades. Environmental protection and preservation were balanced on the same scale as natural resources conservation. Management of hazardous wastes and control
of industrial pollution were found as being esoteric and an effort to hinder the rapid growth of industrialization; which was the basic concern of the government. Also, industrialists were lured by governments for the establishment of industries.
The Nigeria citizens, in a state of ignorance, accommodated the unpleasant and disastrous consequences of industrial pollution. Sea fishes and crabs from pollution streams, rivers and lagoons were freely consumed. Asphalt and cement particles were found in house wives pots of soup and were eaten.
Fumes from stacks occluded sunlight which led to eye irritations, skin burnings;16 etc. Under such a state of lethargy in environmental right, a strong catalyst was needed to wake up the populace to their environmental right. There were no provisions on environmental protections. Also, enforcement of environmental rights arising from these industrial pollutions was simply unheard of.
Therefore, the lack of knowledge of environmental rights and its enforcement and a populace insensitive to these have all compounded the challenges or constraints of knowledge of environmental rights and its enforcement in Nigeria.
The enforcement of environmental rights can only be realized when all favourable mechanisms are in place. This research work, in a bid to actualize its dream, poses the following questions that beg for answers-
1. Why is it necessary to enforce environmental right in Nigeria?
2. Should environmental right be universally recognized as a human right?
3. Can environmental right be placed on the same pedestal as other rights such as Civil and Political rights, Economic and Social rights and Group rights?
4. Does the Nigeria Constitution provide for environmental rights in Nigeria?
5. What factors are militating against the enforcement of environmental rights in Nigeria?
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The Objective of this study is to sensitize the populace and government on environmental rights and its enforcement and also to:
• Determine the existence of environmental rights (if any) within the purview of
• Evaluate the features of environmental rights and its applicability under Nigerian Legal System.
• Determine on the need to extricate and encapsulate rights concerning the environment and accord environmental right a right of place as a separate human right.
• To make recommendations towards the enforceability of environmental rights in Nigeria and pursue the best avenue of addressing the impediment thereto.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This work centers on environmental rights. Therefore, the scope of the study shall be limited to Nigeria. Attention shall be drawn to the plight of indigenes, particularly, of Niger Delta Area and few references to cases outside Nigeria.
Although, Nigeria has adopted the African Charter, its attitude towards environmental rights and its enforcements leaves more room to be desired. Environmental rights are viewed as civil rights and are accorded civil recognition. Having been a victim of environmental pollution as a nation via the Koko incident in 1988, there is need for the country to review the fundamental law of the land and incorporate environmental rights as fundamental human rights. The issues pertaining to the study as it affects Nigeria shall be explicitly discussed.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The rationale of this study is solely a clarion call to all classes of the populace in order to enlighten them on the prevention of undue infringements on a person’s right to a safe and clean environment. The laxity of the Nigerian citizens towards the environment, with the possible exception, of the Niger Delta region, is largely due to ignorance. Legal practitioners, Law Lecturers, Environmental activists and various scholars of diverse educational and academic fields will find the study informative, meaningful and beneficial. In law, ignorance is not an excuse.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY In ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS
This study encountered some difficulties and they are-
1. Dearth of materials:- Discovering books dedicated to environmental right was an uphill task. Threadbare pieces of information on environmental rights were scattered in few materials found and they occupied only about 2 or 3 pages in each book or journal. Obstacles in enforcing environmental rights have ended up making researches on this subject difficult; thereby reducing its appreciation.
The judicial authorities where environmental rights enforcements ought to have been entertained and pursued to a successful end were discouraged due to certain factors as we will see later.
Another constraint was creating enough time for the research and compilations. However, where there is a will, there is a way. Sheer determination was responsible for the completion of the work.
This study involves a critique of environmental rights and the existing enforcement mechanisms for effectiveness and efficiency. To this end, the sources of data were mainly from secondary sources.
Data were sourced from the provisions of statutes, international treaties (which Nigeria may or may not have domesticated) and case laws. Other sources relied upon for data collection included books, the internet, Journals, articles, laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and the constitution.