Nigeria Won’t Sign Off Its Sovereignty For Any Loan, Says Malami
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN has allayed concerns over the signing of loan agreements with a clause that waives the sovereign immunity of the country if it defaults in its repayment plan, saying President Muhammadu Buhari will at all times act in the national interest.
The House of Representatives last week summoned the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed and Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Alhaji Isa Pantami, over a loan agreement with China, which contained the waiver clause.
Article 8(1) of the commercial loan agreement signed between Nigeria and Export-Import Bank of China, according to the House of Representatives, concedes Nigeria’s sovereignty to China.
The lawmakers had picked holes in the $400 million loan agreement for Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project, signed in 2018.
The provocative clause in the agreement, reportedly signed by Federal Ministry of Finance (borrower) on behalf of Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China (lender) on September 5, 2018, provides that “the borrower hereby irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of a sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to Article 8(5), thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuant thereto, except for the military assets and diplomatic assets.”
However, Malami said yesterday there was nothing to worry about on the matter, saying the federal government will always act in the best interest of the country.
‘’The point of note, as per waiver of immunity is concerned, is the fact that it could either be an immunity of sovereignty of a nation or in the alternative waiver of sovereignty as it relates to a contractual obligation, which in effect entitled a party to the contract to have their contractual right enforced on the assets of a sovereign state simpliciter, without affecting the sovereignty of a nation in its own right,’’ the minister stated.
The minister added that in addition to ‘’being people-oriented administration,” the federal government is committed to the rule of law, including respect to the international conventions and extant laws in its dogged determination to guard Nigeria’s sovereignty and its territorial independence and integrity in improving the welfare of Nigerians.
‘’As you might be aware, relevant ministries and agencies will make presentations and receive inputs at National Assembly sessions in order to deliberate on the matter.
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