ABUJA/Nigeria: Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has called on the Federal and State Governments as well as relevant environmental agencies in Nigeria to promote and ensure commitment to the maintenance and security of the environment as bedrock for human security, wellbeing and sustainable existence. CDHR stated that the right to clean and healthy environment is a human right and must be protected by all persons, corporations, agencies and state actors. Environmental rights are directly proportionate to the fundamental right to life. It is the responsibility of all governments to ensure sustainable environment for all.
In a statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary, Comrade (Barr) Henry Peter Ekine, and made available to the media, to mark the World Environment Day, 2018, with the theme: “Stop Plastic Pollution” the foremost human rights organisation enjoined every citizen to take a step to protect the environment and get involved in the global campaign to stop plastic pollution. According to CDHR, it is disturbing to see that plastic has clearly covered our aquatic environment and has gravely polluted the water and land spaces of humankind. The statement advocated stiff regulations and effective legal regime to check the spate of plastic production and usage in order to save and preserve aquatic as well as human lives. Environmental pollution and attendant environmental changes have adversely affected and threatened human security. The effect is believed to be worse in the near future.
Since the incident of dumping of toxic waste in Koko, Delta State, in 1988, environmental consciousness began to burgeon, but not much has been done to link environmental security to human security in Nigeria. From the evolution of the first National Policy on Environment in 1991, to the revised edition in 1999 to the present revised edition of 2016, the Nigerian state has failed to recognise or consider the apparent link between environmental security and human security so as to regard environmental challenges as security challenges and as life challenges. Indeed, the Nigerian state has failed to agree with Late Ken Saro Wiwa’s true assertion that “when the environment dies, the people die”. Nothing can be truer!
Section 20 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended provides that the “State shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wild life of Nigeria”. In addition, Nigeria is party to several international treaties and conventions governing environmental issues. It is on the combined thrust of the Constitution and the international instruments that the National Policy on the Environment, 2016, was made.
Further, the statement added, that there is a broad legal regime on the environment; Nigeria has enacted several legislations on the environment, including the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act, 2007, (which repealed the Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act of 1988); the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (Establishment) Act, 2006, as amended; the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, 1992; the Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provision, etc) Act, 1988; the Mineral and Mining Act; the Oil in Navigable Water Act, and others. However, the impact has remained minimal or nonexistent. Thus, it was time the governments paid more serious attention to the environment with regard to its impact on human security and life itself.
CDHR wished the global community, the UN, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and all of humanity, a plastic-free, pollution-free, clean and safe environment.