Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999           –

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap 10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990

The Criminal Code Cap 77 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990

The Criminal Procedure Act Cap 80 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990

The Evidence Act, Cap 1 2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990

Associated Gas Re-Injection Act, Cap 26 LFN 1990

Edo State Environmental Sanitation Edict of 1994

Environmental Sanitation Edict of 1994

Environmental Impact Assessment Act 1992 –

National Environmental Standards Regulations Enforcement Agency Act 2007

Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provisions) Act Cap 165, LFN, 1990

Oil in Navigable Waters Act Cap 337, LFN, 1990

Oil Terminal Due Act Cap 339 LFN, 1990

The Petroleum Act Cap 310 LFN, 1990

Petroleum Drilling and Production Regulations Cap 350 LFN, 1990

Mineral Oil Safety Regulations, Cap 350 LFN, 1990

Oyo State Environmental Sanitation Edict, 1986

The Civil Aviation Act Cap 51 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990

Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Edict No. 3 1998

The Basel Convention of 1987

The Bomako Convention of 1991

The Stockholm Conference of 1972



A.C.                                                     Appeal Cases

All ER                                                  All England Reports

A.N.L.R.                                              All Nigerian Law Reports

Cr. App. R.                                          Criminal Appeal Reports

E.N.L.R.                                              Eastern Nigerian Law Reports

N.L.R.                                                  Nigerian Law Reports

N.M.L.R.                                             Nigerian Monthly Law Report

N.R.N.L.R.                                          Northern Region of Nigeria Law Reports

N.S.C.C.                                              Nigeria Supreme Courts Cases

N.W.L.R.                                             Nigerian Weekly Law Report

Q.B.                                                     Queen’s Bench

S.C.N.J.                                               Supreme Court of Nigeria Judgements

W.A.C.A.                                             Selected Judgements of the West African Court of Appeal

W.L.R.                                                 Weekly Law Report

W.R.N.L.R.                                          Western Region of Nigeria Law Report

K.B.                                                     Law Report of Kings Bench


This project deals with the legal and institutional framework for the control of oil pollution in Nigeria.Pollution of the environment leads to the degradation of the environment, which is a consequence of industrialization.  In Nigeria, there are laws that are enacted to safeguard our environment.  There are also institutions put in place to enforce these laws.

However, recent experience has shown that despite these laws and the institutions, the environment (air, water and land) is still being polluted by man through indiscriminate disposal of byproducts of crude oil.  Yet, it is this environment that man lives.This long essay is a focuses on the framework for the control of oil pollution in nigeria.  This work is important because it relates to the environment.  For environment to be protected, the environment must be safeguarded.  This is not only for present generation, but also for future generations of Nigerians.

Consequently, the crucial issue is not to halt all production activities in the oil industry order to sustain the quality of the environment, rather, the issue is to examine the legal and institutional framework for the control of Oil Pollution in Nigeria whether they have been able to attain the objective of their enactment and establishments.  If they have done that, then we shall be done but if not, we shall proffer certain recommendations for the effectiveness of the laws and the institutions.

This work shall be limited in scope to Nigerian oil pollution and control laws and institutions.  For the purpose of an indept analysis and a proper comparative analysis, positions of other oil countries e.g. United arab emirates and Ghana shall be referred to in passing.

There could arise during the course of this research some intervening variables which might prevent the researcher in presenting a flawless and perfect work on this study.  These include: the dearth of cases in respect of oil pollution related environmental issues.  Also envisaged is the problem of laying hands on both foreign and local journals in this topic.

Nevertheless, the above intervening variables shall not prevent the researcher from presenting an analytical work based on this topic.

This research work will be based on a critical and analytical study of the topic under discuss, spread across the following chapters:

Chapter One:                           Introduction

Chapter Two:                          The Legal Framework for the Control of oil pollution in Nigeria.

Chapter Three:                        The Institutional Framework for the control of oil pollution in Nigeria.

Chapter Four:                          Analysis of the Legal and Institutional framework for the control of oil Pollution in Nigeria.

Chapter Five:                          Conclusion and Recommendations.



This project deals with the legal and institutional framework for the control of oil pollution in Nigeria. Oil Pollution in the environment leads to the degradation of the environment which is a consequence of industrialization.

The environment (air, water and land) remains nature’s greatest legacy to mankind.  Air, water and land constitute the basic necessities of human existence. In spite of nature’s generous provision of these necessities of life, the environment has been and is still being polluted by man through indiscriminate disposal of domestic, commercial and industrial wastes.

Man depends on resources in his immediate vicinity for sustenance.  But these resources are routinely depleted without adequate or any consideration for their conservation or replacements.

As there is a growth in the number of people who are demanding goods and services, that increasing knowledge and technology make possible, industrial production and trade also grows.  The implication of this is that there will be new factories and chemical plants, new sources of resources depletion and environmental pollution, also, growing in the amount of leisure time that people have.  There is also a fast growing tourist industry.  People have more time and opportunity to encroach upon countryside and beaches, often times polluting land, air and water, as well as jeopardizing plant and animal life in the process.  These selfish exploitations of natural resources make bleak the future of world youth and the unborn generation.

Indeed, the old view that development must necessarily be accompanied by resources depletion has given way to the modern view of development without destruction.  Mankind has also come to realize that the environment belongs to all generations, present and future; hence the concept of sustainable development.

The term, sustainable development has been defined as:[1]

Development that meets the needs and aspirations of the current generations; without compromising the ability to meet those of future generation.

From the above, it stands that all life on earth forms part of a single independent system, which influences and depends on the non-living components of the planetary rock, soils, water and the atmosphere.

Oil pollution is an environmental issue that plagued the Nigerian environment since the exploration and exploitation of crude oil within Nigeria’s borders. Oil pollution can cause serious consequences for the marine environment which can be dire for the survival of the fauna and flora therein. It can also cause distress to the ecosystem and the people living near the contaminated sites, affecting their livelihood and quality of life.

The Niger Delta, which has borne the brunt of this environmental disaster is a huge fertile farmland and has a vast mangrove ecological makeup. The Niger Delta region is made up of 9 States of the Nigerian Federation namely Abia, Akwa Ibom, and Bayelsa. Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers States . The population of the Niger Delta is estimated to be 27 million. Of the people residing in the Niger Delta region, 75 per cent rely on natural endowments for a living. But air, water, soil and forest resources have been devastated by the exploitation of oil and gas resources3. Nigeria is the largest producer of oil in Africa and the 6th largest producer in the world. However, the people of the Niger Delta – where the vast majority of oil deposits are found – have benefited little from this and instead are left to deal with oil spills, gas flares, and significant environmental pollution that has destroyed farms, streams, and fishing— key resources on which the indigenous people depend (Konne, 2014). Since the discovery of oil in Nigeria in 1956, the country has been suffering the negative environmental consequences of oil exploration and exploitation. Between 1976 and 1996 a total of 4647 incidents resulted in the spill of approximately 2,369,470 barrels of oil into the environment. In addition, between 1997 and 2001, Nigeria also recorded a total number of 2,097 oil spill incidents.

The country has had several legislations concerning oil exploration, exploitation and pollution as far back as 1963. It could be said that the federal Government did not take the enforcement of these laws seriously until the incident in 1988. This directly led to the creation of the FEPA (now NESREA). Since then, several more legislations have been enacted to deal with this problem. However, oil pollution cannot be said to have been controlled to a satisfactory degree.


[2]“Pollution has been defined as man made or man aided alteration of chemical, physical or biological quality of the environment to the extent that is detrimental to the environment beyond acceptable limits”

Pollution also involves the making of any feature of the environment offensive, harmful or less suitable for human, animal or plant life and the effectiveness of the legal regimes on pollution control which is the focus of this project.

Pollution is the release into any environmental medium any process of substances which are capable of causing harm to man or any other living organisms supported by the environment.  It is the introduction by man directly or indirectly of substances or energy into the environment resulting in deleterious effects of such a nature as to endanger human health, farm, living resources and ecosystems.

The 1972 United Nations Conference at Stockholm defines pollution as:[3]

“The discharge of toxic substances and the release of heat in such qualities or concentrations as to exceed the capacity of the environment”.


There are different types of oil pollution; they are outlined as follows.


Apart from the production energy, water is needed for human and animal consumption, production of food, fibre and industrial goods.  Water provides a completely cheap means of transportation compared to other means. Varieties of recreational activities can also be carried out on water.  As a result of all the above mentioned uses of water, it thus becomes imperative that the marine environment should be kept clean and safe from pollution of any kind.  Oil companies actively involved in the extracting and refining of crude oil in Nigeria often despose indiscriminate waste product especially the coastal waters.

The oil industry is a potentially dangerous industry to the environment.  This industry is the main source of revenue for Nigeria.  The oil industry impacts on water in the Niger Delta in two main ways.

First, it affects the hydrological patterns of rivers, particularly seasonally flooded plains and disturbs marine life.  Secondly, the oil industry is a huge source of pollution to the marine environment.  Oil spills and blow outs are major source of water pollution in the Niger Delta.  In its over 47 years operation, the sheer volume of spills into the Niger Delta environment including its waters has been enormous in the exploration stage.  The industry uses drilling mud, this drilling mud in very high quantities, could be harmful to the marine environment if it is introduced into it.

When fish ingest these pollutions, it becomes poisoned and could become dangerous for human consumption.  All these have significant impact on human health particularly because of the reliance of people on these waters for their domestic needs and also as a source of subsistence.

[1] The protection of Nigeria environment through law in the law and the Environment in Nigeria, Shyllon F. Ed. Ibid. p. 10.

[2] Supra, Note 8.

[3] Atsegbua L. A. et al Environmental law in Nigeria – Theory and Practice, Lagos.  Ababa Press Ltd., 2004, p. 71.







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