Re-Examining the Protection of the Environment under the 1999 Constitution and International Instruments

Linus O. Nwauzi, Claribel Diebo Fab-Eme


The protection of the environment is now of both local and international concern. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides for environmental matters in Section 20 as one of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Chapter II of the said Constitution. This is the first time environmental issues are captured in the Constitution of Nigeria. In addition, the Constitution also places the subject-matter on the exclusive legislative list by virtue of Item 60(a) which empowers the National Assembly to make laws for establishment and regulation of authorities for the Federation or any part thereof to promote and enforce the observance of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution. The Constitution contains nothing else on the protection of the environment despite the importance of environment today in Nigeria and world over. Pursuant to the said Section of the Constitution and the powers conferred on the National Assembly under the exclusive legislative list, the National Assembly has enacted laws aimed at protecting the environment; prominent among these laws are National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act, 2007 (NESREA Act) and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (Establishment) Act 2006 (NOSDRA Act). This paper examines the said constitutional provisions and other legislations on environment and the attitude of the Courts in the interpretation of that Section as it affects individual rights of the citizens to the environment. The paper also examines the attitude of the international community towards the protection of the environment especially the instruments and treaties made towards protecting the environment. The paper concludes that environment is of great importance both to the present and future generation; therefore every effort should be made by all, towards its preservation, both at domestic and international level.

Keywords: Constitution, Environment, Legislations, International Instruments, Directive Principles.

DOI: 10.7176/JLPG/89-27

Publication date:September 30th 2019

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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