July 1, 2010

Nigeria Law Imposes Liability on Ship Owners in Waste Dumping Cases

Filed under: Africa, seaports — Tags: — inece @ 6:14 pm

An article in Nigeria’s Daily Champion reports on National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency’s (NESREA) efforts to control illegal imports of hazardous wastes. NESREA, a participant in the INECE Seaport Environmental Security Network, in partnership with Nigeria Customs and other agencies, has called for full enforcement of the Harmful Waste Special Criminal Provisions of 2004 by all relevant security and regulatory agencies, which can result in forfeiture of vessels and life imprisonment for violators.

The full article, distributed by AllAfrica.com, is excerpted below.

Considering the fact that over 90 percent of imported goods come into the country through the seaports, participants at the just concluded three-day workshop organized for networking security agencies in the fight against importation of hazardous materials at Tincan Island Port, Lagos have recommended the immediate presence of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) at all seaports in the country.

The workshop on inspection of hazardous waste organised by NESREA, formed part of the agency’s activities to mark the 2010 month of seaport inspection for anti-environmental substances for members of Dump Watch Committee (DWC).

The agency said “the month of June 2010 has been set aside for seaport inspection in developing countries of Asia, Africa and South America by the Seaport Environmental Security Network (SESN), a division of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE)”.

Speaking with Daily Champion at the end of the summit, Director General of NESREA, Dr. Mrs. Ngeri Benebo advised Nigerian businessmen to abide by the laws in shipping, noting that her agency is now poised to rid the country of harmful waste substances so as to raise the protection of the environment and entrench green economy platform in line with international best practices.

According to the communiqué issued at the end of the workshop, the presence of the agency at the seaports will facilitate tracking of hazardous substances and stop their infiltration from the ports to the markets.

The communiqué signed by NESREA, the Customs, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Navy, NIMASA, Defence Intelligence Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, BCRCC, Port Health Services and mega terminal operators also called for full enforcement of the Harmful Waste Special Criminal Provisions CAP H1 LFN 2004 by all relevant security and regulatory agencies.

The DG who relied on the Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provisions) Act Cap H1 LFN of 2004, explained that the law prohibits the carrying, depositing and dumping of harmful waste on land and territorial water of Nigeria.

Making her reference from Section 6 of the Act which stipulates that “Any person found guilty of a crime under this Act shall on conviction be sentenced to imprisonment for life, and in addition; Any carrier, including aircraft, vehicle, container and any other thing whatsoever used in the transportation or importation of the harmful waste; and Any land on which the harmful waste was deposited or dumped, shall be forfeited to and vest in the Federal Government without any further assurance other than this Act”, Dr. Benebo declared that the federal government has stepped up the enforcement of the Act.

Section 8 of the Act further stipulates thus: “Any person who attempts to commit any of the crimes under this Act shall be guilty of a crime and shall on conviction be sentenced to imprisonment for life”.

Before now, Benebo explained that the practice had been to order the ship with the spotted hazardous waste back to port of origin as it were in recent cases involving MV. Gumel Panama from Antwerp, Belgium and others.

She therefore warned international shipping companies on the latest resolve of the federal government on forfeiture of vessels and life jail for culprits henceforth.

According to her, “the Act provides: Notwithstanding the provisions of the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc. (Consolidation) Act, or any other enactment, or law, all activities relating to the purchase, sale, importation, transit, transportation, deposit, storage of harmful wastes are hereby prohibited and declared unlawful; As from the commencement of this Act, any person who, without lawful authority; carries, deposits, dumps or causes to be carried, deposited or dumped, or is in possession for the purpose of carrying, depositing or dumping, any harmful waste on any land or in any territorial waters or contiguous zone or Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria or its inland waterways; or imports or causes to be imported or negotiates for the purpose of importing any harmful waste; or sells, offers for sale, buys or otherwise deals in any harmful waste, shall be guilty of a crime under this Act”.

According to the provisions of the Act, “A person shall be deemed to deposit or dump harmful waste under this Act if he deposits or dumps the harmful waste, whether solid, semi-solid or liquid, in such circumstances, or for such period that he may be deemed; to have abandoned it where it is deposited or dumped; or to have brought it to the place where it is so deposited or dumped for the purpose of its being disposed of or abandoned whether by him or any other person.

…The full article is available from allafrica.com.

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