The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has written a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, asking him to ensure enforcement of the ECOWAS Court ruling on oil pollution in the Niger Delta.
Signed by the Secretary-General of ICJ, Wilder Tayler, the Geneva based organisation in the letter called the President’s attention to the ruling by the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the case filed by an civil society; SERAP, against the Federal government of Nigeria.
The ECOWAS Court recently ruled that Nigeria had violated its obligations under the Article 24 of the African Charter on Human Rights and People’s Rights, which provides that: “All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development.”
The case concerns activities by oil companies operating in the Niger Delta, whose operations were identified as the cause of severe pollution of water, land and the general environment where people of the Niger Delta live.
The Court has ordered the Federal Republic of Nigeria to:
-Take all effective measures, within the shortest possible time, to ensure restoration of the environment of the Niger Delta;
-Take all measures that are necessary to prevent the occurrence of damage to the environment;
-Take all measures to hold the perpetrators of the environmental damage accountable;
The ICJ enjoined President Jonathan to ensure the enforcement of the ruling by the competent authorities in the Niger Delta and the Federal Government.
Noting that Nigeria has an international obligation to comply with and enforce the decision of the ECOWAS Court ruling in accordance with Article 15 of the Revised Treaty and Article 24 of the 2005 Supplementary Protocol on the Court, the Secretary-General of ICJ in his statement, ‘respectfully request’ the government of President Jonathan to “take all necessary steps and issue instructions to relevant officials to comply with this ruling without delay.”
‘Not substantially improved’
The ICJ further noted that despite previous court decisions, including the decision by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in the case the Social and Economic Rights Action Center and the Center for Economic and Social Rights /Nigeria (155/96), “the conditions of living and the respect of their rights for the Niger Delta people have not substantially improved.”
“The present ruling by the ECOWAS Court highlights that much more needs to be done to enforce laws by holding accountable the perpetrators of violations and ending the pervasive culture of impunity existing in the region.”
“I hereby respectfully request the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to act decisively to make good its international commitments to protect human rights against private parties including transnational corporations and other business enterprises” the statement read, adding that “in your endeavours, law enforcement agencies should have a prominent role and they should incorporate the affected communities in the monitoring of the enforcement process to guarantee their adequacy and effectiveness.”
The ICJ also offered to assist the Nigerian government stating that “my organization, which has a long standing interest and work in the defence of the Rule of Law and human rights in Nigeria, stands ready to assist in enabling better legal accountability and the guarantee of access to justice for the affected people.”
“I would be grateful if your Government could keep me informed of any measures taken to implement the judgment of the ECOWAS Court of Justice” the statement concluded.