Journal of Environmental Law and Policy

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M – 00349Analytical Article

The Shoddy Legal Framework on Oil Spill in Nigeria: A Call for a Potent Approach

Israel Oluwaseyi Akindipe

Vermont Law and Graduate School, 164 Chelsea St, South Royalton, VT 05068; 868 Hegeman Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, USA Email: | ORCID:

(2023) 03 (02) Journal of Environmental Law and Policy 27-54

Accepted: 05 July 2023

No. of Abstract Views:

Published: 27 August 2023

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Oil spills have adversely affected the oil-bearing communities in resource-rich regions of Nigeria, especially the Niger Delta Region. Over the decades, the underlying causes of this menace and its consequent effect on the environment, economy, and human rights in the Niger Delta have generated endless debates, civil unrest, and insurgencies. In order to identify the reason for these unabated oil spills, this project examined the current and relevant legislation on oil spills in Nigeria, including all legal and regulatory frameworks governing the oil and gas sector in the country. The assessment focused on how to safeguard the environment and ensure that Nigeria benefits sustainably from an oil-based economy. The fundamental finding that was found is that recurring and unabated oil spills pillage Nigeria solely because of the inadequacy of existing legislation to curb the menace. Nigeria still does not have a strong framework, with it over six decades of oil production. While there exist enforcement issues, the major problem is the inadequacy of existing laws. There is a huge gap in oil spill governance in Nigeria because several standards and legislation are missing. The existing legal framework features the absence of prevention, planning, and preparedness mechanism; lack of an immediate clean-up mechanism; lack of a contingency plan; no liability limits for removal costs and damages; pre-emption of state laws and a lax punitive measure. Although the country can boast of several laws regulating the oil sector, combining these laws has failed in minimizing or preventing oil spills. The study then projected the legal framework governing oil spills in the United States with a particular emphasis on the U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA). It gave an overview of the strategies and standards contained in the U.S. legal regime. It further explained the fundamental differences and similarities between Nigeria and the U.S. The paper found that the U.S. approach to mitigating oil spill incidents could fill up the clear gaps in the oil spill regime in Nigeria. The paper recommends that Nigeria adopt the various standards inherent in the U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990, such as creating a contingency plan, a higher liability limit, and the non-preemption of state laws. Although there exist functional differences between the operation of the legal system in Nigeria and that of the United States, the paper highlighted how the U.S. model could easily be transferred to Nigeria. The study compiles the oil spill occurrence data from both a Nigerian Government Agency (NOSDRA) and Amnesty International. The Agency’s data was mostly used in the project as it is more reliable and acceptable. The paper assessed all relevant legislation on oil spills in Nigeria. It also assessed the U.S. Oil Pollution Act, which is the major statute governing oil pollution in the U.S. The Study recommended the United States model as a potent approach because of the country’s high oil production capacity being the largest oil-producing country in the world.

Keywords: Oil Spill, Oil Theft and Bunkering, Corruption in Nigeria, Oil Pipeline Vandalism, Niger Delta and Ogoniland


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Israel O. Akindipe, ‘The Shoddy Legal Framework on Oil Spill in Nigeria: A Call for a Potent Approach’, (2023) 03 (02) Journal of Environmental Law & Policy 27-54

Harvard Style

Akindipe, I.O. (2023). The Shoddy Legal Framework on Oil Spill in Nigeria: A Call for a Potent Approach. Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, 03(02): 27-54. Doi:

APA Style

Akindipe, I.O. (2023). The Shoddy Legal Framework on Oil Spill in Nigeria: A Call for a Potent Approach. Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, 03(02), 27-54.

ACS Style

Akindipe I.O. The Shoddy Legal Framework on Oil Spill in Nigeria: A Call for a Potent Approach. Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, 2023, 03 (02), 27-54.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Akindipe, Israel Oluwaseyi. 2023. “The Shoddy Legal Framework on Oil Spill in Nigeria: A Call for a Potent Approach”. Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, 03 no. 02: 27-54.

AAA Style

Akindipe, Israel Oluwaseyi. 2023. “The Shoddy Legal Framework on Oil Spill in Nigeria: A Call for a Potent Approach”. Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, 03 (02): 27-54.

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