President Muhammadu Buhari has presented the Explosives Bill, 2021 to the National Assembly. The bill seeks to repeal the Explosives Act 1964 and enact a new Explosives Act to regulate the manufacture, storage, possession, use, distribution, purchase, sale, transportation, importation and exportation of explosives.
A person who wishes to deal with explosives is required by the provisions of the bill, to make an application for a licence, permit or certificate to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development and where granted, it shall be valid for a period of one year from the date of issuance. Where the Minister refuses the application, an applicant who is unsatisfied with the decision can approach the courts to challenge the Minister’s decision. An applicant shall be screened by the appropriate security agency upon the request of the Minister, to determine his or her suitability to be granted a licence. A licence can be varied, revoked or suspended by the Minister in certain circumstances stipulated in the bill.
If the bill becomes law, persons already licensed to deal with explosives, who wish to carry on such business, will be expected to re-apply for a licence within a period of six months from the commencement date of the Act.
The bill specifies the mode of storage and use of explosives for different purposes, including for mining and other construction work. The provisions of the bill do not however, regulate the manufacture, possession, importation or use of explosives by the Nigerian armed forces, defence factories or other persons employed by the Federal Government to execute the provisions of the bill.
The bill creates offences relating to unlawful importation/exportation, manufacture, storage, usage, sale/purchase, transportation, use and theft of explosives. The penalties for different offences range from fines of not less than N20 million, minimum imprisonment term of 5 years, to life imprisonment and fines of up to N80 million.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development is empowered to make regulations to give effect to the provisions of the bill.