AN ANALYSIS OF THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF THE NIGER DELTA STATES IN RELATION TO OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL OF MINERAL RESOURCES UNDER NIGERIAN

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AN ANALYSIS OF THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF THE NIGER DELTA STATES IN RELATION TO OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL OF MINERAL RESOURCES UNDER NIGERIAN

 

CHAPTER ONE

 GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1.  Background to the Study
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is endowed with abundant mineral resources and hydrocarbons. There is no state of the federation that does not have one natural resource or the other. Here is a table of the mineral resources available in different states of the federation:

Abuja (FCT)

Marble, clay, tantalite

Abia

Gold, salt, limestone, lead / zinc, oil and gas

Adamawa

Kaolin,             bentonite,         gypsum,             magnesite, barytes, bauxite

Akwa Ibom

clay, limestone, lead/zinc, uranium, salt, lignite, oil and gas

Anambra

Lead/zinc, clay, limestone, iron-ore, salt, glass sand, phosphate, gypsum

Bauchi

Amethyst, gypsum, lead/zinc, uranium

Bayelsa

Clay, limestone, oil and gas

Benue

Lead/zinc, limestone, iron-ore, coal clay, marble, bauxite, salt, barites, gemstone, gypsum

Borno

Diatomite, clay, limestone, gypsum, kaolin, bentonite

Cross River

Limestone, uranium, manganese, lignite,

lead/zinc, salt, oil and gas

Delta

Marble, glass sand, clay, gypsum, lignite, iron-ore, kaolin, oil and gas

Ebonyi

Lead/zinc, salt, gold

Edo

Marble, clay, limestone, iron-ore, gypsum, glass     sand,    gold,    dolomite,             phosphate, bitumen, oil and gas

Ekiti

Kaolin, feldspar, tatium, granite, syenites

Enugu

Coal, limestone, lead/zinc

Gombe

Gemstone, gypsum

Imo

Lead/zinc, limestone, lignite, phosphate, marcasite, gypsum, salt, oil and gas

Jigawa Barites

Kaduna

Sapphire, kaolin, gold, clay, serpentinite, asbestos, amethyst, kyanite, graphite,

Kano

Pyrochlore, cassiterite, copper, glass sand,

gemstone, lead/zinc, antalite

silimanlie, mica, aquamarine, rubyrock, crystal, topaz, flouspar tourmaline, gemstone, tantalite

Kastina

Kaolin, marble, salt

Kebbi Gold

Kogi

Iron-ore, kaolin, gypsum, feldspar, coal, marble, dolomite, talc, tantalite, limestone, gemstone, bitumen

Kwara

Gold, marble, iron-ore, cassiterite, columbite, tantalite, feldspar

Lagos

Glass sand, clay, bitumen, sand, tar, oil and gas

Nasarawa

Beryl ( emerald, acquamarine and hellodor), dolomite/marble, sapphire, tourmaline, quartz, amethyst ( garnet, topaz), zircon, tantalite, cassiterite columbite, ilmenite, galena, iron-ore, barites, feldspar, limestone, mica, cooking coal, talc, clay, salt, chalcopyrite

Niger

Gold, talc, lead/zinc, iron-ore

Ogun

Phosphate, clay, feldspar

Ondo

Bitumen, kaolin,gemstone, gypsum, feldspar, granite, clay, glass sand, dimension stones, coal, bauxite, oil and gas

Osun

Gold, talc, tantalite, tourmarine, columbite, granite

Rivers

Glass sand, clay, marble, oil and gas

Sokoto

Kaolin, gold, limestone, phosphate, gypsum, silica sand, clay, laterite, potash, flakes, granite, gold, salt

Taraba

Kaolin, lead/zinc

Yobe

Diatomite, soda, ash

Zamfara Gold

But my main focus would be on petroleum (oil) and gas which is the mainstay of the economy. Nigeria’s oil and gas activities are largely carried out in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, in an area covering about 70,000 square kilometers[1]. The Niger Delta region comprises of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Rivers, Delta, Edo and Ondo States. When God provided Nigeria with

mineral resources, his purpose was to lift up the country’s economic and social status and make the citizens enjoy respect and honour among the comity of nations. But like in the story of creation where God created man and put him in the Garden of Eden; the Garden of hope and comfort, man lost this great free gift due to greed and selfishness which led him to sin.

Nigeria entered the world map of oil producing countries when the first barrels of crude oil to be exported from Nigeria were drilled from the wells. Since then life has never been the same again, not only for the Niger Delta region, but for Nigeria as a whole. Huge revenues accrued from this black gold,Government embarked on development projects that would make life easier for Nigerians but not without neglecting our traditional sources of revenue, i.e. agriculture, mining and craft. The result is the disappearance of cocoa and palm plantations in the south as well the groundnut pyramids in the north.

Mineral Resources which comprise of oil and gas, a whole lot of which Nigeria is blessed with is one of the most important sources of energy in the world today. World energy statistics indicate that it presently accounts for about 53% of world energy supply[2]. In Nigeria, the oil sector has continued to remain the mainstay of the national economy. Presently, it accounts for about 90% of Nigeria’s total export earnings and over 70% of Federal Government revenue3. Oil and gas are treated as two separate but overlapping mineral concepts. In actual fact the Nigerian law tends to deal with “Petroleum” as an embodiment of both “oil and gas”, and to try and legislate thus, the evidence of this may be seen in the definition of petroleum that may be found, upon curious enquiry of some of our statue books and in case laws which state that “petroleum can be defined as mineral oil or any related hydrocarbon or natural gas as it exists in its natural state. It also defines natural gas as gas obtained from boreholes and wells and consisting primarily of hydrocarbons”[3].So within the definitions of petroleum and gas, the law recognizes the overlap between the two mineral resources.

Furthermore, the origin of oil and gas industry is often traced to the discovery of rock oil in the 1850s and the first oil well striking petroleum in 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania, United States of America[4]. From this humble beginning came the multi trillion dollar oil industry and the development of the framework for the commercial exploration and exploitation of the fuel that will power the great technology advances of the late 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

However, in Nigeria, the first commercial discovery of oil was in June, 1956, by the then Shell

D’Archy Petroleum Development Company in Oloibiri, in present day Bayelsa State[5]. Within our current regime which was established under the Petroleum Act 1969[6].

1.2. Statement of the Problem
The crisis over ownership of mineral resources in Nigeria is in diverse folds which have led to several heated debates, conflicts and misinterpretations. Some of these conflicts are between the

Federal and State Government and the Local Communities and the Government. The Federal and

State conflict that is branded “Resource Control” calls for fair, just, equitable and manageable natural resources sharing formula that shall be favourable to every Nigerian. Resource control is the legal incidence of ownership of natural resources. The basic principle of our Property Law is that he who owns a thing of value manages it. In the words of Hon. Justice Tobi JCA (as he then was), in Abraham & Anor v. Olorunfumi & Ors[7], the distinguished jurist observed thus: “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 ends with him”.

When one considers the above principle of our property law and the case cited above in the light of ownership pattern in Nigeria, one would be left with the view that our laws contradict each other. This is because the Constitution[8] and the Petroleum Act[9] has vested the control and ownership of all mineral resources on the Federal Government.

Another puzzle that will prick the mind of any close observer of this area of our jurisprudence is the provision of the Land Use Act. This is because we cannot talk about mineral resources without mentioning land that actually houses these mineral resources.  The Act states thus[10]:

Subject to the provision of this Act, all the land comprised in the Territory of each state of the Federation are hereby vested in the Governor of the State and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

The question is what is the place of the people who were the original owners of the land since trusteeship of the lands in any state in Nigeria has been vested on the state governor and the mineral resources found on the land is owned by the Federal Government. This is the problem with the Land Use Act. In the raging debates over who should control what resources, the interest of the oil producing communities and the occupiers of the land have been relegated to the background. The pertinent questions now are:

Can the existing laws relating to the ownership of mineral resources in Nigeria be said to be
beneficial to the people of the Niger Delta region?

Can the concept of ownership of the natural resources be said to be the root cause of the agitation in the Niger Delta region?
Why has oil wealth failed to translate into rapid economic growth and increased standard of living for the Niger Delta region and Nigerians?
Should the people of the Niger Delta region be blamed for the natural resources bestowed on them by Mother Nature?
Is the issue of resource control merely a struggle control of the resources of the Niger Delta?

1.3  Aims and Objectives of the Research
This dissertation is aimed at considering the rights of the Niger Delta States in relation to the ownership and control of mineral resources under Nigerian Law. The choice of this topic stems from the fact that though the course is a viable one and many scholars have written on this issue but have concentrated more on state sovereignty over her natural resources. What then is the position of the people who are at the end point of every move in Nigeria? However some lacuna has been discovered. Accordingly, my objective in this work will be

To examine the legal framework of ownership of mineral resources in Nigeria vis-à-vis its application and impact on the people.
To assess the adequacy of the existing provisions of our local legislations in relation to ownership and control of mineral resources.
To highlight defects and shortcomings in the existing laws.
To re-examine the rights of the oil producing communities in Nigeria
To ensure that suggestions made would be geared towards improvement that would enhance
Nigeria’s ownership right over her mineral resources.

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AN ANALYSIS OF THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF THE NIGER DELTA STATES IN RELATION TO OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL OF MINERAL RESOURCES UNDER NIGERIAN

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