Chinese Loans: Bill Seeking to Protect Nigeria’s Sovereignty Passes Second Reading

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Udora Orizu in Abuja

The House of Representatives at the plenary yesterday passed for second reading a bill seeking to repeal Nigeria’s treaties (amendment procedures) to protect Nigeria’s sovereignty and economic powers.

The legislation entitled “Bill for an Act to repeal Treaties (Making Procedure, etc.) Act, Cap 120, Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and re-enact Treaties (Making Procedures) Act, 2020 and for Other Related Matters, HB1012),” was sponsored by the Chairman, House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, Hon. Ossai Nicolas Ossai and 16 others lawmakers.

Ossai gave a general synopsis of the bill and highlighted that Section 8 makes it mandatory that the approval of the two chambers of the National Assembly must be sought and obtained before any Ministry, Department and Agency (MDAs) body or person signs any treaty or agreement for and on behalf of the Federation of Nigeria with any other country or foreign based company or foreign body.

He said that this would forestall the repetition of Nigeria and China Loans Agreements and others.

He also said the bill provided that treaties and agreements should not be presented to the President for assent just the same way it is in the country’s constitution.

Ossai further stressed that considering the role of Nigeria in bilateral and multilateral| agreements in the West African Sub-region and in the politics of Africa Union and the United Nations, it is obvious that repealing of the principal act and re-enacting a new one is long overdue.

He said: ‘’The Principal Act was established in January 21, 1993 by degree No. 16 during the military era, long before the establishment of 1999 Nigerian Constitution. This presupposes the fact that the act predates all the intendments of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution that ushered-in the Fourth Republic Democratic Government, which therefore means that the act is obsolete and needs urgent review and total overhaul for it to be in conformity with the Nigerian Constitution with regards to Treaties Making Procedure and Implementation. A critical perusal and analysis of the principal act vis-a-vis the 1999 Nigerian Constitution reveals areas of conflict and inconsistency in both instruments.

‘’Section 9 of the bill equally makes it mandatory for MDAs, body or person who is a party in any signed treaty or agreement with any country to within one month transmit same to the Federal Ministry of Justice who is the depository of all treaties and to the two chambers of the National Assembly. The bill seeks to avoid conflict with the constitution and ensure conformity. This is because some of the provisions of section 3 of the principal act that talks of ‘Classification of Treaties’ is in conflict with section 12 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which provides for ‘Implementation of Treaties and Agreements.’ The bill removes the word ‘classification’ as provided in the principal act and only extends the implementation provision of the constitution.

‘’It also adopted the provisions of section 12(2) of the Constitution by including both the concurrent and exclusive legislative lists as matters to be legislated upon by the National Assembly just as it also conforms with the House Standing Orders.”

The bill when put to voice vote by Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila got overwhelming support of majority of the members.