FG will protect Nigeria’s sovereignty on Chinese loans, says Malami

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Abubakar Malami, minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation (AGF), says the Buhari administration will guard Nigeria’s sovereignty as regards foreign loans.

Malami said this in reaction to claims by federal lawmakers that some clauses in the country’s loan deal with China concedes Nigeria’s sovereignty to the Asian country.

The house of representatives committee on treaties and agreements had particularly raised concern over article 8(1) of the commercial loan agreement between Nigeria and Export-Import Bank of China.

The $400 million loan was obtained for Galaxy Backbone, the government’s information and communication technology (ICT) agency, in 2018.

The clause in question provides that “the borrower (Nigeria) 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”.

But in an interview with THISDAY, Malami said the sovereignty being waived could be as relating to a contractual obligation.

He said in addition to running a people-oriented administration, President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to the rule of law, including international conventions and extant laws, in its “dogged determination to guard Nigeria’s sovereignty and its territorial independence”.

“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 (sic), without affecting the sovereignty of a nation in its own right.

“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.”

The minister said no loan deal will be finalised without being properly scrutinised. Contentious issues will not only be addressed, but other implications will be analysed with a view to making informed decisions in the best interest of the country and for the betterment of Nigerians,” he added.

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