OIL AND GAS 1.2C OWNERSHIP BY INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES
DO INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES (WHERE THE PETROLEUM IS FOUND) HAVE A RIGHT OVER AND ABOVE OTHER NIGERIANS IN RELATION TO THE RESOURCES?
Article 26, of the UNDRIP (United Nations’ Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People) mandates states and explorers to respect the rights of indigenous people over their land. Article 78 UNCLOS fights against pollution and recognizes that the indigenes are the most affected. The court in the New Zealand case of Ngati Apa Ngati Koata V Ki Te Tau Ihu Trust, (following Amodu Tijani V Secretary Southern Nigeria) noted that sovereign ownership of the crown does not extinguish existing rights so long as it can be proved.
The agitation by communities of the Niger Delta for greater control over petroleum derived from their communities has posed an issue. To pacify the indigenes, the Niger Delta Development Commission has been established to cater for the indigenes needs and drive development in the Niger Delta.
It is however clear from Section 44(3) of the 1999 constitution, Section 1 Petroleum Act, Section 1 minerals act and the PIB, that ownership of such resources is vested in the FG.
Rrespite would be granted by Section 116 and 118 of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which shall establish the Petroleum Host Community Fund. This fund would entitle host communities to a share of the net proceeds from oil operations conducted in their community.