The Director-General, National Environmental Standards Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Dr Lawrence Anukam, has called for review of law empowering the agency to enter premises with court warrant.
Anukam made the call in his submission at a two-day public hearing on a Bill to amend the National Environmental Standards Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Act 2017 to provide for and adopt clean air policies.
Section 30 (1) of the principal Act required an officer of the agency to enter and search any premises with a warrant issued by a court.
The agency can also enter facilities for the purpose of conducting inspection, searching and taking samples for analysis which it reasonably believes contravenes environmental standard.
Anukam, however, urged the national assembly to amend the section to enable the agency meet emergency situations without court order.
According to him, in the case of emergency, the law should provide that an officer of the agency can enter the premises to save the situation and thereafter seek a search warrant from the court.
“In situation of urgency where it becomes a threat to life, it becomes necessary that NESREA is empowered to enter any premises, stop the process before it gets out of hand before seeking court order,’’ Anukam said.
He also advocated for the setting up of Environmental Arbitration Tribunal to try violators of environmental laws and regulations in the country.
According to him, administrative penalty will serve as a way of strengthening enforcement and generating revenue.
“The idea of pegging penalties at a maximum of N200, 000 for defaulters was not the best; let the Judge determine according to the gravity of the offence to serve as deterrent to others,’’ Anukam added.