This article examines Nigeria’s pollution abatement laws. It highlights some of the problems of these laws, as well as other factors hindering the control of environmental pollution in Nigeria. The article suggests a comprehensive review of most pollution abatement laws with a view to entrenching adequate penal sanctions and enhancing the powers of regulatory institutions and also increasing public participation in environmental protection.
Nigeria is a large, developing country, blessed with resources but subject to environmental degradation. Typical examples of environmental degradation are deforestation, soil erosion, flooding, and industrial pollution. Before the enactment of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Decree No. 86 of December, 1992 (Federal Republic of Nigeria 1992a), detailed analysis of the biophysical and socioeconomic impacts of major development projects were to a large extent ad hoc, fragmented, or in some instances nonexistent.
Spurred by growing environmental awareness in many parts of the world, recognition of EIA as a tool for better environmental protection and management at the national level became evident in the early 1980s, starting with the Fourth National Development Plan (1981–1985). This plan proposed the development of environmental impact statement (EIS) in feasibility studies for all projects (private and public) and stipulated that an EIS should include plans to mitigate adverse environmental effects of a project. Also, for the first time in Nigerian development planning, a section on environmental planning and protection was included. The need for EIA was reiterated at a seminar on Environmental Awareness for National Policy Makers organized by the Federal Ministry of Housing and
Environment in 1981 (Federal Ministry of Housing and Environment 1982).
Similarly, various national documents on environment, construction, and agriculture policy recognized the use of EIA as a strategy for achieving sustainable development. Many academicians wrote of the need for EIA, and grassroots activists agitated for restitution in Nigeria’s oil producing areas. Consequently, some form of EIA studies started around the mid- 1980s in the oil industry. Related developments were observed in land use planning and development permit approval in states such as Lagos and Bendel (Olokesusi 1992a). Nonetheless, there was never a systematic, legal and institutional framework for EIA until the promulgation of Decree No. 86 of 1992. This article assesses this EIA legislation and procedure in the light of the projects that have been subjected to full EIA since 1994.