Our experts are at it again. They are crying foul. Nigeria has signed off on some “slave agreements”. Can people just off their mic, calm down and do some study before taking on every issue like antediluvian warlords, ever spoiling for a fight.
I first read about it yesterday assomething that came out of the house of representatives panel investigating Government’s loan agreements. I saw a few people pick up on it and many more have done so since then, latching on to the reports in Tribune and Sahara reporters.
I couldn’t but shake my head, reading the query by the House and their wanting to get agreements clause by clause. I cannot even decide on which is more ridiculous between that suggestion and the ignorance many have displayed on this matter.
This is the clause that our experts claim cedes our sovereignty to China:
“The borrower (Nigeria) hereby irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to Article 8(5), thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuant thereto, except for the military assets and diplomatic assets.’’
This is the agreement that makes us slaves to China?
You are taking a loan and you do not realise that it is elementary that the lender will require some level of comfort? If you enjoy immunity that does shield you from fulfilling the terms of the agreement, you do not realise that you will have to waive that immunity in the agreement?
Sovereign immunity is an age-long principle of customary international law which protects states and their heads of state from being sued or from enforcement of judgement or arbitrary award.
Even though over the years, there has been a move towards restrictive immunity, with some going as far as a denial of sovereign immunity, there is some consensus around the fact that once the state comes to the marketplace, its acts are deemed commercial and sovereign immunity will not shield it from responsibilities that accrue from that.
Even under the principle of absolute sovereign immunity, states, of their own accord waive that immunity, by implication, once they submit to a tribunal or institute an action.
In sourcing for loans, entering into agreements making provision for arbitration, it presupposes that sovereign immunity had been waived already. That the agreement quoted above reinforces it is only stating the obvious, doing well to exclude military and diplomatic assets.
You need to know what sovereign immunity is to be able to understand what has been waived off. No one is trading away Nigeria’s sovereignty. The principle behind that clause, here enunciated is nothing new. There is a long standing distinction between jus imperium and jus gentium.
People just need to calm down.