From Faith Yahaya, Abuja
Nigeria did not cede its sovereignty to China, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said on Tuesday.
They said a clause in an agreement signed with China was a standard provision in such pacts between a borrowing country and the lending nation.
They noted that the clause was only a form of assurance that the borrowing country will not default in repayment.
The ministers said National Assembly members must have misconstrued the concepts of international diplomatic immunity and commercial immunity.
They pointed out that while the former refers to a nation’s sovereignty and independent existence, commercial immunity has to do with a commitment to ensure repayment of loans.
The ministers made the clarification when they appeared on a television programme in Abuja.
Amaechi, debunking the notion that Nigeria’s sovereignty has been signed off to China in obtaining loans, said: “Nobody has signed out anything. A sovereign nation is a sovereign nation, nobody can recolonise us.
“We must learn to pay our debts and we are paying, and once you are paying, nobody will come and take any of your assets.”
Amaechi also exonerated the Goodluck Jonathan administration from the clause in the agreement, which he said was standard.
“We will not blame President Goodluck Jonathan’s government for taking the loan, because like I said, it is a standard clause in every loan agreement. That clause enables the lending country to go to arbitration.
“It creates an avenue for them to be able to retrieve their funds in the case of a default.
“If, therefore, there’s an asset that has been mortgaged, they must be able to get to that asset.
“If you don’t waive that immunity, they cannot. It’s a standard clause in every international loan agreement.
“If the National Assembly says we have signed out the sovereignty of our country, so why did they approve? Didn’t they see it before approving?”
Malami added that there was no concession whatsoever by Nigeria regarding its independence.
He said no concession was made on the institutional diplomatic immunity of Nigerian institutions.
Malami said: “When you talk of immunity within the context of commercial sense, that is where I think we need to clarify issues with particular reference to the loans and commercial transactions among nations.
“Concessions relating to immunity for the purpose of provision of the commercial guarantee is a normal, traditional ritual. “