P.H Sooting: Lawyer Sues Federal Government Over ‘Black Soot’ Emission In Port Harcourt, Seeks Damage Of N500 Million

Okparaolu Chioma Chris Esq., a Port Harcourt based lawyer, has instituted an action against the Federal Government for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to physical and mental health.

In the originating process filed by the Applicant’s Counsel and The Voice Attorneys, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Attorney General of Federation are joined as 1st and 2nd Respondents respectively in the application brought by the Applicant as a result of the emission of the  dangerous atmospheric particulate popularly known as “Black Soot” within Port Harcourt and neighbouring areas.

According to the Applicant, the emission of Black Soot which is hazardous and detrimental to his physical and mental health has continued undisturbed despite several calls on the Federal Government to intervene.

He blamed the emissions on gas flaring activities and illegal petrol refining which the Federal Government has failed to address contrary to its obligation stated in Article 16(2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act to take necessary measures to protect the health of its people and ensure they are treated when sick.

The Applicant in his prayers asks the Court to declare that the people living in Port Harcourt and neighbouring areas are entitled to the best attainable state of mental and physical health and a generally satisfactory environment favourable to their development guaranteed by Articles 16 and 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act. 

He also prays the court to declare that the acts of the Respondents in ignoring and neglecting pleas and petitions from the people and government of Rivers state affected by the hazardous atmospheric airborne particulate commonly known as “Black Soot” amounted to a violation of the fundamental rights of the Applicant and other Nigerians living in the affected areas.

He further prays the court to ORDER the Respondents to pay the Applicant the sum of N500,000,000 (Five hundred million naira) only as damages for the gros violation of the Applicant’s fundamental rights as guaranteed in Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights; and an ORDER that the Respondents take bold and reasonable steps to stop or minimise to the barest minimum the emission of black soot in Rivers state.

The application filed at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt Judicial Division on the 13th of January, 2021 is supported by a 49-paragragh affidavit and six affidavits wherein the Applicant evinced facts which gave rise to the application.

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