LOCUS STANDI AS AN OBSTACLE TO ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN NIGERIA
Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, colour, sex, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.
Environmental Justice emerged as a concept in the United States in the early 1980’s; its proponents generally view the environment as encompassing and seek to redress inequitable distributions of environmental burdens.
In Nigeria, foreign exchange earnings from crude oil sources account for the single most important source of Nigeria’s foreign exchange. Hence, since oil was discovered in the Niger Delta region of the country in commercial quantities in 1956, there have been increased activities in the oil sector in the areas of exploration and exploitation, refining, export and domestic distribution. While these oil activities have generated immense financial benefits for the country, they have also created serious health and environmental problems.
With the increase in the oil activities and its resultant consequences, it became clear that the common law remedies were not easily available to the victims of the pollution. This worked injustice on the victims. Further there was no comprehensive national policy and enforcement statute for the country’s environmental protection. It took the 1988 Koko toxic waste dump for the country to fashion out a national policy on the Environment with supporting statutory legislations.
However, even with the statutory legislation in place the problems of the victims were far from over. These victims hardly get any justice from the courts. This is because of the many impediments that comes with environmental litigation, the most troublesome being the doctrine of locus standi. The doctrine of locus standi is a common law doctrine that has found its way into our legal system. Locus standi is the existence of a right of an individual or group of individuals to bring an action before a court of law for adjudication.
This work seeks to examine the concept of environmental justice in Nigeria, what constitutes Environmental justice, its impediments, and to this extent, we will look at the doctrine of locus standi and its effect on Environmental justice. We will also look at other impediments to Environmental justice. We will also look at few foreign jurisdictions to find out how the concept of environmental justice has been applied. Finally, we will proffer solutions on how best to achieve environmental justice.
This work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the general introduction. Chapter two deals with the issue of locus standi in Nigeria. Chapter three deals with the challenges of Environmental justice. Chapter four deals with Environmental justice in foreign jurisdictions. Finally, chapter five deal with conclusion and recommendation.