The National Assembly is yet to ratify over 400 treaties, protocol and other agreements with foreign nations and bodies entered into by Nigeria, a House of Representatives member, Ossai Nicholas Ossai has said.
He asked the Executive arm of the government to always involve the National Assembly in negotiations and other preliminary interactions before signing treaties, protocol and other agreements with foreign nations and bodies.
Ossai, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Treaties, Protocols, and Agreements, spoke in Abuja on Tuesday at the formal commissioning of the National Depository of Treaties.
The depository, housed within the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja is meant to keep copies of all treaties, protocols, and agreements entered on behalf of the country by any of its agencies for easy reference and reviews.
Ossai said: “This is very important because our engagements in the last few months have shown that over 400 treaties, protocols, and agreements entered into by the successive government of Nigeria are yet to be ratified and/or domesticated.
“We also noted the fact that the National Assembly is not usually involved in the processes leading to negotiations and signing of most of these treaties, protocols, and agreements.
“We honestly believe that this is one area the Executive arm of government should collaborate more with the National Assembly in order to promote shared knowledge and make it easy for ratification/domestication where necessary.”
Ossai said his committee, in the House of Representatives, has commenced the process of reviewing all treaties, protocols, and agreements entered into by the Nigerian Government.
“We will in the coming weeks organize a special public hearing amongst other things to review existing treaties and ascertain status of its implementation, discuss ways to ensure that our treaties making procedures are harmonized and are in compliance with relevant laws and also develop a National Policy on Arbitration to help protect Nigeria‘s interest on all Bilateral/Multi-lateral Investment Treaties (BITs/MITS),” Ossai said.
While commissioning the center, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) urged all ministries, departments, and agencies of the Federal Government to submit any treaty, memorandum of understanding or protocol in their possession.
Malami explained that the motive behind the establishment of the center is to achieve functional National Depository of Treaties; maintain a comprehensive/updated register of treaties and ensure that all treaties, agreements, and protocols entered into by the government are preserved.
He added: “The electronic National Depository of Treaties will serve as the depository of all treaties entered into between the Government of the Federation and any other country of any ministry, agency or department in line with Section 4 of the Treaties (Making Procedure, Etc.) Act Cap. T20 Laws of the Federation (LFN) 2004, which domiciled the National Depository of Treaties in the Federal Ministry of Justice.
“May I use this opportunity to again reiterate the need for all ministries, departments and agencies to transmit to the National Depository of Treaties domiciled in Federal Ministry of Justice all executed agreements, memoranda of understanding and treaties in their custody and those to be entered in the future in their original form.
This is in further compliance with the service-wide circular, reference No. HCSF/LU/FEC/M/938 dated 2nd March 2017 issued by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation as directed by the Federal Executive Council.
“It is our hope that very soon the National Depository of Treaties will be in the cloud for a more global outlook and accessibility from any part of the world.
“It is about transparency, accessibility, and order in line with the tenements of Open Government Partnership and access to justice which the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to upholding,” Malami said.