Sand Dredging Activities in the Extractive Industry in Nigeria: Impact, Regulation and Remedies

Publication Information

Journal Title: Commonwealth Law Review Journal
Author(s): Ugochukwu Godspower Ehirim, Ufuoma Veronica Awhefeada & Andrew Ejovwo Abuza
Published On: 23/09/2022
Volume: 8
First Page: 467
Last Page: 511
ISSN: 2581-3382
Publisher: The Law Brigade Publisher

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Ugochukwu Godspower Ehirim, Ufuoma Veronica Awhefeada & Andrew Ejovwo Abuza, Sand Dredging Activities in the Extractive Industry in Nigeria: Impact, Regulation and Remedies, Volume 8, Commonwealth Law Review Journal, 467-511, Published on 23/09/2022, Available at


Extractive activities have for a long time been visible in many parts of Nigeria. Artisanal sand mining has been carried out along the coast of the River Niger and the creeks of the Niger Delta for a fairly long period of time. However, the introduction of sand dredging machines (suction pumps) in sand mining enterprise has birthed great concerns for the environment and persons whose livelihood depend on such impacted environment. These dredging activities are oftentimes carried out without bureaucratic discipline and in shear disregard of statutory governance. This has continued unabated as the host communities of these dredging activities appear helpless due to a lack of community ownership of land in Nigeria in line with the Land Use Act, 1978 (now Land Use Act Cap L 5 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria [LFN] 2004).  Sand dredging cannot be isolated in this discourse but rather situate within the expansive scope of environmental law. The rascality with which sand dredging activities are persistently prosecuted has thrown up grievances by individuals and the public in general which must be contained by the legal system. Can the victims and aggrieved persons find justice?

This paper aims to engage access to justice and remedies for victims of sand dredging activities in Nigeria. The settled legal principle of ubi jus ibi remedium is revisited. It evaluates the basic principles which must all co-exist for the courts of justice or other judicial tribunals to validly entertain and determine issues arising from environmental violations. Thus, concepts like cause of action, locus standi, the limitation of action, pre-action notice, judicial review and common law remedies are given critical attention.

The writer adopts the doctrinal research methodology and by applicable primary and secondary sources asserts that the common law remedies with the attendant traditional burden of proof in environmental (civil) cases have not adequately answered to the needs of justice in the present milieu, particularly in the area of sand dredging. The paper concludes by suggesting, among other things, the development and recognition of new heads of action at common law to cater for emerging industrial technologies in sand dredging, the codification of environmental obligations of operators in the sector, the adoption of the doctrine of ‘implied warranties’ to make violators much more accountable to the society and the liberalisation of the doctrine of locus standi to guarantee greater access by aggrieved persons to justice.

Keywords: Sand Dredging, Extractive Industry, Access to Justice, EIA, Environmental Litigation.

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