Reps begin review of 1993 Treaties Act promulgated by Military

The House of Representatives on Tuesday flagged off the review of the Treaties Act of 1993, which was promulgated by the Military.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila explained that when the amendment bill becomes law, it will make the country’s laws on treaties and protocols fully compliant with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and ensure that it aligns with global best practices.

The Speaker who was represented by Hon. Sani Daura argued that repealing the Treaties Act of 1993 represents a bold and long overdue step in our forward march towards a more perfect democracy.

Hon. Gbajabiamila expressed optimism that the bill when passed into law, 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 20 years after we returned to democratic government in Nigeria,” he noted.

In his presentation, Chairman, House Committee on Treaties, Agreement and Protocol, Hon. Ossai Ossai observed that Nigeria is a state party to over 400 International Instruments for which less than 5% have been domesticated while over 95% of such Treaties, Protocols, Agreements, Conventions, Pacts, Accords etc., have not been operationalized into becoming part of the country’s laws.

Hon. Ossai who called for redress lamented that Nigeria is losing out from the benefits derivable from such instruments after much public resources have gone into their negotiations and adoption.

He further expressed worry noting that with this development “some of these instruments may have been selectively internalized through a process of Executive fiat which is a clear infringement of our Constitution.

“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 remarks, Chairman of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission (NLRC), Prof. Jummai Audi underscored the need to distinguish between Treaties and Agreement.

She further clarified that Treaties entails deals between two countries while Agreement concerns organisations.

“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.”

In his presentation, Director of Research Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Prof. Peter Akper who argued that the proposed bill allegedly relegated the Executive in the process by concentrating all the powers relating to treaty-making in the National Assembly, however, emphasized the need for synergy between the three Arms of government before signing of treaties.

“The Bill should therefore be re-drafted to enable the executive branch to sign and ratify all non-Iawmaking 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.”

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