Data source
Date of text
27 Oct 2001
Seat of court
Original language


Type of text
Reference number
No. 155/96 (2001)
Court name
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The applicant claimed that the Nigerian government was responsible for environmental contamination in the territory of the Ogoni people caused by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company disposing hazardous wastes into the environment. The contamination of water, soil and air through occurring oil leaks led to health problems among the Ogoni people. The applicant claimed that the government neglected to require standard safety measures of the oil companies and that it made Nigerian military forces available to them which were used to attack, burn and destroy Ogani villages and food supplies.

The applicant brought forward a number of alleged rights violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights such as the rights to life, health and to a clean environment.

The Commission concluded that Articles 4 (right to life), 16 (right to health) and 24 (right to a clean environment) were indeed violated seeing as the government failed to prevent widespread killings of the Ogoni as well as environmental pollution and degradation.

Furthermore, it was found that Nigeria violated the right to freely dispose of the Ogoni’s wealth and natural resources under Article 21 seeing as the government “facilitated the destruction of the Ogoniland.”

The Commission also held that Nigeria systematically violated the right to adequate housing which is not itself contained in the Charter, but is derived from a combination of the rights to health, family and property.

Moreover, it was found that, in failing to prevent the oil companies from contaminating and destroying food sources of the Ogoni, Nigeria violated the right to food which is derived from Articles 4 (the right to life), 16 (the right to health) and 22 (the right to economic, social and cultural development) of the Charter.

Lastly, the Commission found that Nigeria violated Article 2 which ensures the freedom from discrimination.