An Analysis Of The Legal Rights Of The Niger Delta States In Relation To Ownership And Control Of Mineral Resources Under Nigerian Law

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ABSTRACT
Natural resources worldwide are a gift of nature and an endowment of comfort that makes the existence of mankind complete. As nature’s priceless gift to man and because nature’s endowment of these resources is without reference to people or nation, the subject of ownership and control is one that has generated a great deal of passion and controversy amongst people and nations. Unfortunately, these resources have been identified as playing key roles in triggering conflicts, and, all through history, thestruggle for possession and control of natural resources has been the remote, if not the immediate, cause of agitations and human tragedies. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is endowed with abundant mineral resources and hydrocarbons but the scope of this dissertation is oil and gas. Its vast oil fields are concentrated in the Niger Delta region, which comprises of Akwa IbomBayelsa, Cross Rivers, Rivers, Delta, Edo and Ondo States. When God provided Nigeria with mineral resources, his purpose was to lift up the country’s economic and social status and make the citizens enjoy respect and honour among the comity of nations. But like in the story of creation where God created man and put him in the Garden of Eden; the Garden of hope and comfort, man lost this great free gift due to greed and selfishness which led him to sin. The crisis over ownership of mineral resources in Nigeria is in diverse folds which have led to several heated debates, conflicts and misinterpretations. Some of these conflicts are between the Federal and State Government and the Local Communities and the Government. The Federal and State conflict that is branded “Resource Control” calls for fair, just, equitable and manageable natural resources sharing formula that shall be favourable to every Nigerian.This dissertation is aimed at considering the legal rights of the Niger Delta States in relation to the ownership and control of mineral resources under Nigerian Law. The choice of this topic stems from the fact that though the course is a viable one and many scholars have written on this concept but have concentrated more on state sovereignty over her natural resources. What then is the position of the people who are at the end point of every move in Nigeria?As is traditional with legal research, the methodology shall essentially be the doctrinal method which entails the study of major laws and textbooks written by distinguished scholars on the subject matter and other relevant materials such as academic journals, articles and judicial decisions or case laws as well as the internet.

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