By Michael Dedon
Members of the House of Representatives are said to have uncovered clauses in a loan collected by the Nigerian Government from a Chinese bank that they say concedes the country’s sovereignty to China.
Chairman of the House Committee on Treaties, Protocol and Agreements, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, raised the alarm while probing loans received by the government.
The committee noted that the clauses in Article 8(1) of the commercial loan agreement signed between Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China allegedly concedes sovereignty of Nigeria to China in the $400m loan for the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project signed in 2018.
Under international law, the state is immune from judicial execution of judgment. It simply means that a US court for example cannot make an order for the attachment and sale of assets belonging to the Federal Republic of Nigeria in satisfaction of a judgment debt. Same applies in Nigeria regarding US assets in Nigeria. This is based on the principle of state immunity. However, some govts enter into commercial transactions where they contract to waive their state immunity by which their assets can be attached in satisfaction of a judgment debt. If you don’t waive it then you won’t get the loan or credit. It’s not by force. Nigeria is not under compulsion to take Chinese loans as there’re other lenders. We take them because they’re cheaper and we waive our immunity as part of the collateralization of the loans taken. Even ordinary companies insist on such clauses when dealing with foreign govts. It’s not a novel idea. You want them to be giving you loans without security?
Michael Dedon is a legal practitioner from Nigeria.