A member of the House of Representatives, Ossai Ossai, on Tuesday, said the National Assembly is yet to ratify over 400 treaties, protocol and other agreements with other nations and global bodies.

Mr Ossai, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja at the commissioning of the National Depository of Treaties.

The lawmaker, who said the National Assembly is usually left out in the processes leading to the signing of some of these agreements, advised the executive arm of government to always involve them in negotiations and other preliminary interactions before signing treaties, protocol and other agreements with foreign nations and bodies.

The depository, which 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, is housed within the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja.

“As a committee, it is encouraging that the Honourable Attorney-General has shown commitment towards the attainment of some of these goals through the formal commissioning of the National Depository of Treaties,” he 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 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.”

Mr 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 organise 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 harmonised 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 (BLTs/MITs)”, Mr Ossai said.

In his remark, while commissioning the centre, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, urged all ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government to submit any treaty, memorandum of understanding or protocol in their possession.

The minister explained that the motive behind the establishment of the centre is to achieve functional National Depository of Treaties; maintain a comprehensive/updated register of treaties and ensure that all treaties, agreement and protocols entered into by the government are preserved.

Mr Malami added that, “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.

“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,” he said.

Commending the ministry for the establishment of the centre, the national president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro, said the centre would help redress the issue of poor record keeping in the country.

Mr Usoro further noted that the project would improve access to justice as it would easily make vital information available to Nigerians.

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