|diezani-allison-madueke; Petroleum Resources Minister|
On face value or
what we lawyers call prima facie, the celebrated Petroleum Industry Bill 2012
seems excellent with all the hype of transformational development and
Industrial Revolution that goes with it,
but on a strenuous and exhaustible look
with a microscope, we have discovered the existing but hidden evil intent
(mensrea) of the P. I. B 2012.
The push for this
fact-finding mission started in a conference the Institute Of Human Rights And
Humanitarian Laws(IHRHL) attended at Bolingo Hotel Abuja on the “Appraisal Of The
Petroleum Industry Bill”, organized by ERA/Friends of the Earth Nigeria and
review of the P. I. B 2012 was carried out by the participants, led by Nurudeen
Ogbara Esq. and Nnimo Bassey.
The sessions were
thought provoking and enlightening.
To keep the fire
burning IHRHL left Abuja with a resolve to look into the said Bill and form an
This write-up is a
product of that digging.
discovery is that the P. I. B is a
gross departure from International
Treaties on Human and Environmental Rights which Nigeria is signatory to. Some
of the Environment Related international Conventions and Protocols signed and
ratified by Nigeria are:-
Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (1968).
Convention for the Pollution of the Sea by Oil (1954 -62).
3. The Convention
concerning the protection of the World Culture and Natural Heritage (1972).
4. Convention on
International Trade in Endangered species of Flora and Fuana (1973).
5. United Nations
Declaration Of Human Rights.
One may ask, what
is the nexus between Environmental Rights and Human Rights and P. I. B,? please
be patient with us as we flow.
The preamble to
the Universal Environmental Rights states thus:-
“Whereas the 1948 recognition
of the inherent dignity, equal and inalienable rights of all members of the
human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
Whereas in 2009,
recognition that the world has changed dramatically in ways not imagined, such
that catastrophic climate change threatens the very rights declared in 1948, we
recognize that human rights now depend on protecting our environment for the
welfare of all living now and in the future and that freedom to live in harmony
with our environment is the basis for all other human rights necessary to enjoy
life, health freedom, justice and peace”.
Thus it is
essential, if humans, particularly Nigerians must not be compelled to suffer
effects of incessant oil spillage, human and environmental degradation which
translates to destruction of means of livelihood, poverty, ill-health, death
(breach of right to life and human dignity); Environmental rights should be
jealously and zealously protected by rule of law.
The P. I. B
woefully failed to protect these rights and it is this same industry that has
violently invaded our ecosystem and made part of it utterly useless. Goi
Community in Ogoni land is a case study. The land has become barren due to
degradation by SHELL’s spillage to the extent that it is inhabitable, and
unproductive. The people have become refugees in their own country with no
place to go, their means of existence crippled. They can’t farm or fish. They
are poverty stricken, the air is poisonous, the water is death syrup with
benzene level 900 times above prescribed medical standard.
With all these
challenges in view, the least expected of P. I. B is that it protects the
environment and by extension, Human Right to life and dignity (of labour).
The objective of
the P. I. B buttresses my point as it is geared towards profiting the Federal
Government and the Oil Companies to create a “business environment for further
“Part V11 P.I.B”:
On Health, Safety
and Environment is relaxed on compensation and penalties. It is not preventive
as to compel the Oil Companies maintain International Oil field practices.
The sanction as
stated in Sections 298 & 296 is as prescribed by the inspectorate and the
Agency in consultation with the Minister of Petroleum.
As such whatever
the Minister decides as adequate compensation or penalty, so be it. The
guideline as to compensation should have been stated clearly and penalty too as obtainable in other reasonable laws, subject to judicial interpretation.
Our further take
is that too much autocratic powers have been reposed on the Minister by the P.
I. B without check and balance.
This brings us to IHRHL’s
Second discovery that the P. I. B lacks checks and balance mechanism. The
Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Act attempted to achieve the check and balance
mechanism when it created the Nigerian Oil and Gas Monitoring Board to monitor
the implementation of its laudable provisions.
Our suggestion is
that instead of reposing all that power on the Minister as it is in the P. I.
B, an Independent Board be created, funded independently, to check the excesses
of the Oil Companies in the Upstream, Midstream and Downstream sector and the
apparent corruption in the Ministry.
It is obvious that
the Ministry is also an interested party and cannot be a judge in its own case.
The Ministry cannot check itself but would rather fashion policies that would
shield her. She needs to be put on her toes, if not even with this laudable P.
I. B, it will be business as usual if the Minister calls all the shots.
Ministry of Environment should be further empowered to check the excesses of
investors in the upstream sector who use low standard equipment for
exploitation or do not regularly maintain their facilities, thereto occasioning
environmental degradation through continuous spillage. If the Ministry of Environment
becomes compromised or inefficient, an independently funded body be created to
do the policing. The reasoning of IHRHL is hitched on the indubitable fact that
any agency under the influence of the Government, mandated to check corruption
or impunity cannot function adequately (EFCC, NODRA, NOGCMB) because it will
either be starved of fund or monopolized.
What Barack Obama
called a “cosy relationship between the Oil Companies and the Federal agency
which permitted Oil Companies to drill without monitoring “. He was commenting
on the 2010 Deep Water Horizon Incident. Thus The U.S Government formed an
further Environmental degradation and abuse of right to life and livelihood we
must follow suit.
NOSDRA should be
translated into an independent agency without any executive interference in
order to police the petroleum sector in terms of environmental management and
safety of human life.
discovery is that P. I. B is evil to the extent that it rides on the chariot of
“Perverse Reverse Psychology” of giving with one hand and taking with another.
This discovery is apparent in S. 116 – 118 where-in it provided for the
Petroleum Host Community Fund.(PHCF 10%)
S. 118(6) states that the management of the fund shall be by the
Minister of Petroleum, that means the fund moves from Abuja back to Abuja, it
may just be like another NDDC thing in Host community.
that members of the impacted community become the major stakeholders in the
management of the said fund and not the Minister who is not affected by the
hazards of oil exploitations.
Another issue is
that S. 118 (5) states that the PHCF would be used to repair damaged facilities,
Invariably creating strict liability on impacted communities for vandalism that
occurs in the community instead of on
Oil Companies, in order to easily avert the said fund with claims that the fund
is used for repairs.
We suggest that
the Oil Companies be made to protect their facilities and take full
responsibility for such vandalism except they can prove otherwise i.e. the
burden should be on the Oil Companies not on the Host Communities.
and penalty section as discussed above is also an escape route to evade payment
of adequate compensation for negligence.
S.277 which on
surface value seeks to prohibit Gas flaring is terribly inadequate and should
either be expunged or amended.
gives the absolutely powerful Minister extra power to permit gas flaring as
long as possible. This is a latent evil against
human right to life and dignity and against the well being of our
environment as continuous gas flaring continuously deplete the health and life
of humans, the ozone layer and the pollution of the air and environment.
IHRHL suggests that
for any day gas is flared, the equivalent financial value for each metric tonne
be paid to the Host Community that bears the brunt (not the Federal Government)
and continuous flaring for up to 6 months attracts revocation of licence,
reverse psychology in the P.I.B of prohibiting and at the same time elongating
period of flare is evil and unacceptable.
This research is
not exhaustive but reveals the gamesmanship of the draftsman and his sponsors
who intend to further deceive and impoverish the masses while they go home with
fat-stolen-pay cheques smiling.
Our environment is
We must protect
our human rights to life.
Nsirimovu Courage Esq.
Access To Justice Attorney.