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Legal aspects of environmental issues and equity considerations in the exploitation of oil in Nigeria's Niger delta

Ebeku, Kaniye Samuel Adheledhini (2021) Legal aspects of environmental issues and equity considerations in the exploitation of oil in Nigeria's Niger delta. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86051) (KAR id:86051)


This thesis examines the legal aspects of environmental and equity issues relating to oil operations in Nigeria's Niger Delta. Oil is Nigeria's chief foreign exchange earner since the early 1970s, accounting for over 90 per cent of her yearly revenue. This natural resource is presently found only in the Niger Delta region of the country, inhabited by indigenous people. The exploitation of this resource is carried on by the Nigerian State in collaboration with oil multi-national companies (MNCs), both of which reap huge revenue and profits, respectively, from the business. On the other hand, oil operations have their negative aspects: adverse environmental and social impacts, and these affect the region (and its biodiversity) and the local inhabitants. Over the last few years, the Niger Delta people have been embarking on frequent protests against oil operations in their region, and are demanding equity. Although previous studies have examined this situation, there has been no systematic study of the environmental and equity issues of the operations, particularly from the perspective of the collective rights of the Niger Delta indigenous people. This thesis is an attempt to fill this gap. Hence, the central question of this thesis is: What is the cause (s) of the present oil-related protests in the Niger Delta? Other research questions include: What is the legal status of the inhabitants of the Niger Delta region? What are the environmental impacts of oil operations in the Niger Delta? And how beneficial have oil operations been to the region and its inhabitants? These will be considered from the perspective of international law relating to indigenous and other collective rights as well as from a socio-legal perspective. Essentially, the thesis argues that contrary to previous studies oil-related environment protection statutes in Nigeria are defective in some respects. However, the major reason for the persistence of oil-related adverse environmental and social impacts is the non-enforcement of relevant laws. Further, it is argued that the operations are inequitable to the Niger Delta people and contrary to their indigenous and other group rights. Lastly, it is argued that the solution to the demands of the people does not lie in token responses, such as the recent establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission, but in addressing their demands substantively and consistent with fairness and justice, right to development and the recognized and emerging rights of the indigenous people under international law.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86051
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Nuclear waste reprocessing
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:26 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 12:47 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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