Some individuals and Civil Society Organizations have instituted a suit against the Federal Government of Nigeria over what they consider as the oppressive provision of Section 257 of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) of 2021. This was disclosed by the Executive Director of WeThePeople, Mr Ken Henshaw, at a news briefing in Port Harcourt
Section 257 (2) of the PIA provides as that:
Where in any year, an act of vandaism, sabotage or other civilSection 257 (2) of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021
unrest occurs that causes damage to petroieum and đesignated facilities or
disrupts production activities within the host communities, the community shall
forfeit its entitlement to the extent of the costs of repairs of the damage that
resuited from the activity with respect to the provisions ofthis Act within that
Provided the interruption is not caused by technical or natural cause.
According to Mr Henshaw, the above section of the PIA contradicts the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, and this caused the following persons: Henry Eferebo, Princewill Chukwure, Avadi Chimankpam and Health of Mother Earth Foundation to institute the case at the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, challenging the propriety of the inclusion of Section 257 in the PIA and calling for its outright repeal by seeking amongst other reliefs the determination whether the shifting of personal liability for damage, property injury, vandalism or sabotage to host community by the provision of section 257(2,3) of the PIA 2021, not consistent with section 43 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution, which protects citizens’ rights to own immovable and movable properties, including funds.
Henshaw further stated that affected host community leaders believe that some provisions of section 257 of the PIA, rather than promote development, may result in increased deprivation for communities and create new conflict scenarios.
“The fact that the Act blames host communities for oil theft and oil infrastructure sabotage and mandates them to become unpaid, unskilled, and unarmed guardians of oil equipment and pipelines was perhaps the most contentious and unjust aspect of the Act,” he said.
He condemned the destruction of oil infrastructure, describing such rascality as a crime with well-established punishment after due determination of guilt by a court.
“No existing law provides for the punishment of an entire community, in this case, the denial of due benefits for a crime committed by a person or persons at large,” Henshaw said.
He further said that no Nigerian law permits the award of punishment for any supposed crime without the determination of a court of law.
“It is implausible that an entire community, including all men, women and children, collectively sabotage oil infrastructure.
“Why should the entire community bear the consequences?” he rhetorically asked.
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