President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday signed instruments of ratification for some bilateral agreements.
One is to strengthen the government’s anti-corruption battle. Others cover Tax Administration and Intellectual Property Protection.
Ratified are Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters, Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and Extradition Treaty.
Other instruments of ratification are Charter for the Lake Chad Basin between Nigeria, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Libya, Niger and the Republic of Chad; African Tax Administration Forum Agreement on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters; World Intellectual Property Organisation Performances and Phonograms Treaty; The World Intellectual Property Organization Treaty on Audio-Visual Performances and Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise.
The President said: “I am delighted to perform today, the duty of executing Instruments of Ratification of certain Agreements on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, pursuant to the powers conferred on me by Section 5(1) (a) and (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 7 of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties of 1969.
“Today’s ceremony marks a very important milestone in our demonstration of sovereign capacity to fulfill our international obligations and take important steps for the benefit of our economy, security and the anti-corruption war within and outside Nigeria.
“The full implementation of the Agreements has, however, been delayed due to the need by both sides to conclude their respective ratification processes.
“I am happy to note, therefore, that pursuant to a Memorandum presented to the Federal Executive Council by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Council has approved the ratification of the said Agreements, thus paving the way for today’s ceremony.”
“With this sovereign act, which has been replicated in the United Arab Emirates by their responsible authorities, we are now in a position to utilise these Agreements fully to foster cooperation between our respective authorities particularly for the purpose of prosecuting the anti-corruption campaign of this Government,” Buhari said.
The President added: “It is my hope that these Instruments which are signed today will reinvigorate the anti-corruption war and check the illicit flow of funds out of our country to other jurisdictions, improve national security, food security, boost our economic and tax regimes and improve the overall well-being of our creative community.”
Before the signing of the instructions, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, explained the agreements.
The Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters “is between Nigeria and United Arab Emirate and it is to create a broad legal platform for cooperation between both countries in the administration of criminal law generally and other matters related to the investigation and prosecution of crimes and sharing of information and experience between authorities of notice countries”.
“It is our expectation that this agreement will constitute a core component for our anti corruption strategy, given the prominence of the United Arab Emirates as an investment destination for many Nigerians some of whom have unfortunately seen that country as a haven to invest illicitly acquired wealth.”
On the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters, Malami said: “This agreement created a platform for assistance between both countries in civil and commercial matters which will in essence assist to institutionalise support for the Nigerian business community through commercial and civil protection and thus engender massive growth on both sides.”
“This agreement has a strong potential to promote commerce between both countries by strengthening the legal framework for the settlement of legal dispute and execution of court judgement in civil and commercial matters,” he said
The Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons “ will grant our country the privilege of bringing back sentences persons of Nigerian origin serving their terms in the United Arab Emirates to serve the same terms in Nigerian prisons and, where applicable, face investigations and prosecution for the crimes, inclusive of financial crimes that are committed in Nigeria before their apprehension in UAE.”
“The Extradition Treaty will create a legal platform for either country to make requests for the extradition of fugitives from justice found in each other’s territories.
“Recall, that Mr. President personally led a delegation to the UAE in January 2016 during which the said agreements were signed on the 18th of January 2016.
“Both counties agreed that there was a need because of the positive relations between them to encourage and boost each others’ commercial transactions in Nigeria and UAE through all legitimate channels,” Malami said.
“There is however concurrent imperative to discourage and mutually convert illicit financial dealings by criminal elements who are engaged in financial money laundering and other financial crimes.”
On the charter for the Lake Chad Basin between Nigeria, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Libya, Niger and the Republic of Chad, he said: “This charter is a political, legal instrument for equitable water sharing, common investment and environmental management for the Lake Chad Basin.
“Our decision to ratify the agreement is in recognition of the need for the responsible management of Lake Chad Basin area, which has historically supported one of the world’s richest eco-system and provided employment for millions of people but is now being ravaged by the effect of climate change.
“A revitalised Lake Chad Basin will not only boost the security situation in the region but also demonstrate the commitment of the government in sustainable development goals on the management arrangement of the environment.”
On African Tax Administration Forum Agreement on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters, Malami said: “This agreement is designed to contribute to the efficacy of tax administration and improve public accountability. This is consistent with the vision of this government to significantly diversify our revenue resources away from oil by aggressively expanding the taxation rate through various strategies.
“It will also boost continental cooperation with our sister African countries and thus cultivate sources of tax revenues which were hitherto overlooked for greater mutual assistance in Nigeria and other countries.”
On World Intellectual Property Organisation Performances and Phonograms Treaty and the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise, Malami said: “These two treaties will in various dimensions protect the rights of Nigerian performers, actors, singers and others in the visual environment on the one hand and producers of kenetic abstract art and music or sound set in relation to each other on the other hand.
“The decision to engage in these agreements is a bold step in recognition and importance which the present administration accords to the protection of intellectual property in the Nigerian jurisdiction.
“It is intended to protect the works of creative industry, including Nollywood, which has been expanding the components of our gross domestic products.
“Nigerian youths who have ventured into the creative sector can be rest assured that the Federal Government will continue to support their aspirations and protect their source of livelihood through the vigorous protection of their intellectual property rights as these instruments are intended to approve that protection.
“This ceremony today demonstrates the national resolve of this administration to continue to play our role as a responsible member of the international community.”