Nigeria has experienced litigation challenging private actors for their climate unfriendly operations.
In addition to the human rights grounds that was used in Gbmere v Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Ltd and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Ors, the law of torts has been used. In Chinda v Shell-BP, the Plaintiff sought an injunction against the defendant’s gas flaring activities, which had contributed in destroying his land, houses and economic trees. The court however declined to grant an injunction.
Considering their pro-economic stance, Nigerian courts are more likely to grant compensation rather than injunction. This can be seen from the other tort-based environmental cases such as Allar Irou v Shell BP Development Company (Nigeria) Ltd, where the Plaintiff suffered damage as a result of the Defendant’s oil operations and sued for compensation and injunction. Like in the Chinda case, the court declined to grant injunction, but granted compensation for the damage suffered.
When it comes to standing, the plaintiff must be able to prove the direct injury to the person or community’s wellbeing resulting defendant’s actions to have standing in tort cases (Chinda v Shell-BP).
Whilst there has been climate litigation against private actors, a number of these cases fail because plaintiffs are unable to discharge the burden of proof, as the scientific evidence required is expensive and time consuming. The other reason is the pro-economic stance taken by courts.
- Gbmere v Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Ltd and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Ors
- Chinda v Shell-BP (1974) 2 RSLR 1
- Allar Irou v Shell BP Development Company (Nigeria) Ltd
For more country specific context and relevant national climate change law see: https://climate-laws.org/geographies/nigeria
This country report has been produced by Iona McEntee, C2LI Senior Research Assistant and Lydia Omuko-Jung, C2LI Legal Analyst with the collaboration of Uzuazo Etemire, C2LI National Raporteur for Nigeria. The summary is based on Uzuazo Etemire, “Climate Change Litigation in Nigeria: Challenges and Oppportunities” in F. Sindico and M. Moise Mbengue, Comparative Climate Change Litigation: Beyond the Usual Suspects, Springer, 2021.