The Petroleum Industry Bill, (PIB) 2012 is designed to provide a comprehensive legal framework for the operation of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. In providing a framework for dealing with the environmental impacts of petroleum exploration and production, s.118 (5) of the PIB 2012 provides that where any act of vandalism, sabotage or other civil unrest occurs which causes damage to any petroleum facilities within a host community, the cost of repair of such facilities shall be paid from the Petroleum Host Community Fund established under section 116 of the Bill for the development of the economic and social infrastructure of the communities within the petroleum producing area unless it is established that no member of the community was responsible for the damage. Similarly, under section 293 of the bill, where the Downstream Regulatory Agency determines that a particular harm to the environment has been caused by sabotage of petroleum facilities within any of the oil producing states or local government, the cost of restoration and remediation shall be borne by the state governments and local governments within which the act occurred and the licensee or lessee shall be discharged of any liability in respect thereof. This study argues that the oil producing states and local government councils should not be held vicariously liable for acts of sabotage of petroleum facilities committed by unidentifiable third parties who obviously did not act as their agents. It is also argued that the principle of vicarious liability under the Bill smacks of an old colonial policy adopted by British Consuls in the Niger Delta of holding coastal communities liable for criminal acts committed by unidentifiable third parties against British interests.
Key words: Petroleum Industry Bill 2012, Niger Delta principle of vicarious liability.
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