Nigeria: Government and oil firms to face ECOWAS court over violation

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The Nigerian government and six international oil-firms operating in Nigeria will defend themselves against charges of oil-related pollution and environmental damages, human rights violation and hardship brought upon the people and communities of the Niger Delta. The defendants will be heard in the ECOWAS Community Court sitting in Abuja.

“The government of Nigeria and the oil companies are individually and/or collectively responsible for serious violations of the right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to food, to work, to health, to water, to life and human dignity, to a clean and healthy environment; and to economic and social development,” the suit brought by Mr. Femi Falana, counsel of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), reads.

Despite Nigeria’s dependency on oil, the oil-producing Niger Delta area, is characterized by abject poverty and vulnerability- a violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, by the Nigerian government and oil-corporations.

According to SERAP, the people of the Niger Delta are entitled to the internationally recognized human right, an adequate standard of living; including adequate access to food, to health care, to clean water, to clean and healthy environment, socio-economic development, the right to life, human security and dignity: For these failures, SERAP is demanding that $1billion and other forms of reparation be paid to the people and communities of the Niger Delta.

Experts and observers have always maintained that the Nigerian government along with oil companies, largely ignored the chance to enforce laws and regulations to protect the environment and prevent pollution in the Niger Delta. The impact of oil-related pollution and environmental damage on agriculture and fishing as a result of oil spillages and improper dumping of waste materials, brought untold hardship to the people and communities of the oil-rich region of Nigeria.

Following the cease-fire and amnesty deal reached by the Nigerian government and the Niger Delta rebels who claimed to fight for justice and improved living standards for the people of the oil region, the ECOWAS court is expected to ask the Nigerian government to carry out a transparent and effective investigation into the activities of oil companies operating in the Niger Delta and to bring to justice those suspected to be involved and/or in complicity with the violation of human rights.

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