By EGUFE YAFUGBORH
WARRI: TO institute environmental justice in Nigeria, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, has called for the establishment of an “Independent National Environmental Tribunal” for speedy resolution of environmental disputes in the country.
The Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, made the proposal in Warri, Delta State, where the environmental rights group facilitated a two-day workshop aimed at empowering civil society groups and communities to achieve justice over incidents of environmental disasters.
Blaming rampant gas flaring and frequent oil spills in the operating environment on impunity by oil companies as well as ignorance and sometimes connivance by the host communities.
Ojo also said the Nigerian judiciary shared in the blame, as most of the spill cases even when dragged to court are hardly resolved conclusively, with the impacted communities hardly gaining justice.
“That is why you notice that in recent times, impacted communities with the support of ERA and other civil society groups now explore the option of foreign courts. You remember the case of five fishermen from Bayelsa versus Shell in the Netherlands? One of the plaintiffs won against Shell in the Hague,” Ojo noted.
He argued that the regular courts have failed in playing their role in discouraging reckless operations resulting in spills because of the delayed justice system as well as the challenges of pervasive corruption in the country for which the judiciary is no exception.
The ERA boss, therefore, called for “an Independent National Environmental Tribunal specifically tailored to concentrate on environmental disputes would resolve all pending cases with dispatch as justice delayed is justice denied.
“There are about 10,000 oil spills sites in the operating environment and not one spill have been adequately cleaned up. This has resulted in severe degradation of farmlands and pollution of water bodies which the