An analysis of the legal framework for environmental protection in Nigeria
The basis of environmental policy in Nigeria is contained in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Pursuant to section 20 of the Constitution, the State is empowered to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wildlife of Nigeria. In addition to this, section 2 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act of 1992 (EIA Act) provides that the public or private sector of the economy shall not undertake or embark on or authorise projects or activities without prior consideration of the effect on the environment.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has promulgated various laws and Regulations to safeguard the Nigerian environment. These include:
- Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act of 1988 (FEPAAct). The following Regulations were made pursuant to the FEPAAct:
- National Environmental Protection (Effluent Limitation) Regulations:
- National Environmental Protection (Pollution Abatement in Industries and Facilities Generating Wastes) Regulations; and
- National Environmental Protection (Management of Solid and Hazardous Wastes) Regulations.
- Environmental Impact Assessment Act of 1992 (EIA Act).
- Harmful Wastes (Special Criminal Provisions etc.) Act of 1988 (Harmful Wastes Act).
The Federal Ministry of Environment (FME) administers and enforces environmental laws in Nigeria. It took over this function in 1999 from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA), which was created under the FEPA Act. FEPA was absorbed and its functions taken over by the FME in 1999.
The Federal Ministry of Environment has published several guidelines for the administration of the FEPA and EIA Acts and procedures for evaluating environmental impact assessment reports (EIA Reports).
Other regulatory agencies with oversight over specific industries have also issued guidelines to regulate the impact of such industries on the environment such as the Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria (EGASPIN) 2002, published by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
However, pursuant to the FEPA Act, each State and local government in the country may set up its own environmental protection body for the protection and improvement of the environment within the State. Each State is also empowered to make laws to protect the environment within its jurisdiction. All the States have environmental agencies and State laws; e.g. Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory has issued the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (Solid Waste Control/Environmental Monitoring) Regulations 2005 (“the Abuja Environmental Protection Board Regulations”) which principally governs solid waste control in Abuja. In Lagos State, the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency Law, was enacted to establish the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA). LASEPA’s functions include monitoring and controlling the disposal of waste in Lagos State and advising the State Government on all environmental management policies. Lagos State has also enacted the Environmental Pollution Control Law, to provide for the control of pollution and protection of the environment from abuse due to poor waste management. Akwa Ibom State, has enacted the Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency Law, which established the Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency. This Agency is charged with responsibilities which include identifying and proffering solutions to environmental protection problems in Akwa Ibom, and monitoring and enforcing environmental protection standards and regulations.