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By Godfrey Olukya   17-12-2012

Environmentalists and non-governmental organizations dealing in environment issues  in Nigeria are happy over the judgment by the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice which has ruled that the governments and oil companies are responsible for the pollution.

Socio-Economic Rights and accountability project (SERAP) sometime back sued  Nigeria government over environment abuse by oil companies. The Court has unanimously found the Nigerian government responsible for abuses by oil companies.

Amnesty International and SERAP said that the government must hold the companies and other perpetrators to account.

The Court also found that Nigeria violated articles 21, on the right to natural wealth and resources and 24 on the right to a general satisfactory environment of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights by failing to protect the Niger Delta and its people from the operations of oil companies that have for many years devastated the region.

Environmentalist, Simon Okugbe said, ‘We are happy over the judgement. There is need for the government to protect the environment. Some of the foreign oil companies do not mind about the environment degradation because after all when oil will get finished from underground, they will simply leave for their home countries leaving us in problems.’

According to the Court, the right to food and social life of the people of Niger Delta was violated by destroying their environment, and thus destroying their opportunity to earn a living and enjoy a healthy and adequate standard of living. The Court also said that both the government and the oil companies violate the human and cultural rights of the people in the region.

The quality of life of people is determined by the quality of the environment. But the government has failed in its duty to maintain a general satisfactory environment conducive to the development of the Niger Delta region.’ court emphasized.

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