The House of Representatives and critical stakeholders at a public hearing on Tuesday, endorsed the Bill for an Act to Repeal Treaties (Making Procedure etc) Act 2004 and and Re-enact Treaties (Making Procedure.) 2020 which seeks to address the anomalies.
Chairman, House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreement, Nicholas Ossai said over 95% of treaties, protocols, agreements, conventions, pacts and accords Nigeria is party to have not been operationalized into becoming part of the country’s laws.
According to Ossai, Nigeria has lost out from the benefits derivable from such international instruments after much public resources have gone into their negotiations and adoption, hence the proposed legislation intend to change the situation.
He said it has become necessary for a timely Legislative intervention, or a paradigm shift in order to put the country in good standing among the comity of nations.
This, the lawmaker said:”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, 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.
“The Bill also uses the term Agreement in addition to Treaties.This is very important because it will cover agreements that are not necessarily treaties. Technically, all treaties are agreements but some agreements may not be treaties. Treaties are usually made between nations while agreements may be made with international organizations that are not nations per se”.
On his part, Director of Research, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 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 redratted to enable the executive branch to sign and ratify all non-Iaw making treaties or agreements that do not require domestication. However all law making tmaties 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 ofsection 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.