The House of Representatives has initiated steps to stop Federal Government officials from entering into commercial agreements that tend to enslave the country or compel her to forfeit part of her sovereignty.
The House, on Thursday, passed for second reading, ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal Treaties (Making Procedure, etc.) Act, Cap, T20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Enact Treaties (Making Procedure) Bill, 2020 and for Related Matters.’
The bill seeks to repeal laws relating to treaties and agreements and re-enact them to be in line with democratic principles as contained in the 1999 Constitution.
The bill was sponsored by the Chairman of the House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, Mr Nicholas Ossai, who had recently raised the alarm over “dangerous” clauses in the loans already taken by Nigeria from China.
Ossai, while leading debate on the bill, noted that the principal Act was enacted January 21, 1993, and known as Decree No. 16 during the military era, long before the enactment of the 1999 Constitution.
He said, “This presupposes the fact that the principal Act predates all the intendments of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution that ushered in the Fourth Republic democratic government, which therefore means that the principal Act is obsolete, that needs urgent review and a total overhaul for it to be in conformity with the Nigerian Constitution, with regards to treaties making procedure and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 reveal areas of conflict and inconsistency in both instruments.”
Ossai noted that the bill seeks to make it mandatory to first seek the approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives before any ministry, department or agency, body or person can sign any treaty or agreement for and on behalf of Nigeria with any other country or foreign-based company or foreign body.
He said, “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 which is the depository of all treaties and to the two Houses of the National Assembly. The bill seeks to avoid conflict with the constitution and ensure conformity.”
He added that Section 8 of the new bill, which provides for the approval of the National Assembly before any treaty or agreement entered into by MDAs could be signed, upholds Order 18 Rules 93 of the House Standing Orders, which directs the Committee on Treaties, Protocols, and Agreements to be ‘liaising with all the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government before treaties are entered into by the Federal Government pursuant to Section 12 of the Constitution.’