By Tordue Salem
Chairman of the House of Representatives committee on treaties, protocols and agreement, Rep. Ossai Nicholas Ossai has said over 95% of treaties, protocols, agreements, conventions, pacts and accords Nigeria is a signatory to, are not yet adopted as a country’s laws.
Ossai disclosed this Tuesday at a public hearing on the bill for an act to repeal treaties (Making procedure etc) Act 2004 and Re-enact treaties (Making Procedure.) 2020.
According to Ossai, Nigeria has lost out on the benefits of such international instruments after many public resources have gone into their negotiations and adoption.
He said, there was a need for timely legislative intervention or a paradigm shift in order to put the country in good standing among the comity of nations.
Ossai said:” It has necessitated the effort at repealing and re-enacting the Treaties (Making Procedure Act, to align with the provisions of our 1999 Constitution (as amended) in order to unify and standardize our Laws in this respect and to further encourage the seamless domestication of the International Instruments to which Nigeria is a state party.
“The Treaties (Making Procedure) Act of 2004, which was a 1993 promulgation of the Military, essentially encouraged the exercise of Executive fiat upon these International Instruments of co-operation, peace and unity among nations. Twenty years after the advent of our 1999 Constitutional democracy, the situation has remained regrettably the same”.
In her presentation, the chairman, Nigerian Law Reform Commission (NLRC) Jummai Audi, said the essence of the bill, is to provide a comprehensive law, as a legal basis for the domestication of international instrumental and agreements.
Audi said: “In consonance with the provisions of section 12 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Bill has several provisions that serve to strongly safeguard the interest of the nation in terms of its international rights and obligations to other countries and organizations.
“It will also serve as checks on the practices of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government who may seek to enter into agreements on behalf of the Federal Government without recourse to the National Assembly whose duty is to legislate for the good governance of Nigeria”
In his presentation, the director of research, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Prof. Peter Akper said while cooperation between the executive and the legislature is required for effective treaty-making, the bill appears to have relegated the executive branch in the process, by concentrating all the powers relating to treaty-making in the National Assembly.
He suggested that: “The bill should therefore be redrafted to enable the executive branch to sign and ratify all non-Law making treaties or agreements that do not require domestication.
“However all law-making treaties and agreements should be transmitted to the National Assembly for the necessary legislative scrutiny, approval and enactment of the requisite implementing legislation in line with the provisions of section 12 of the Constitution”.
While declaring the public hearing open, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila said when Bill becomes law, it will make Nigeria laws on treaties and protocols fully compliant with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and ensure that in this important area, the country is aligned with global best practices.
“Just as importantly, repealing the Treaties (Making Procedure, etc.,) Act of 1993 represents a bold and long overdue step in our forward march towards a more perfect democracy. This is because the existing law is the product of a military decree, and as such is an aberration that ought not to still exist twenty years after we returned to democratic government in Nigeria”, he noted.
Deputy chairman of the committee, Rep. Armayau Abdulkadir (APC-Katsina) while moving a vote of thanks assured the stakeholders that all their contributions would be looked into.