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House of Rep pause ETIP agreement of Nig & UK

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By Mercy Kelani

This is in response to public concerns regarding its terms and conditions.

The Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP) agreement between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, which sought to create opportunities in energy, legal, and financial services sectors, was abruptly paused by the House of Representatives on March 19, 2024. Hon. Kingsley Chinda, along with 48 other members, sponsored a motion that led to the passing of the resolution. This came in response to public concerns regarding the terms and conditions of the proposed agreement, prompting the House intervention.

During his opening speech, Hon. Chinda voiced his unease regarding the current accounts and widespread protest about a supposed economic and trade alliance between the United Kingdom (UK) and Nigeria with the goal of delving into fresh prospects in crucial industries like energy, legal, and financial services. The House has observed that the trade deal has recently sparked controversy due to its unequal legal terms, which seem to heavily favour the UK over qualified Nigerian lawyers. This has raised concerns as the deal only allows UK lawyers to practice in Nigeria, while excluding Nigerian lawyers from practicing in the UK.

Partnerships must prioritize the well-being of all Nigerians.

Last week in Nigeria, the British Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, and Nigeria’s Minister for Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka, were scheduled to sign an agreement known as the ‘Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP)’ on behalf of their countries. This agreement was brought to the attention of the House. The House has taken note of reports indicating that Nigeria has committed to eliminating obstacles that hinder UK lawyers from practicing international and foreign law within the framework of the Trade Partnership.

Also, the House recognizes that the agreement aims to enhance cooperation between the UK and Nigeria’s film and media sectors, yet it fails to address the needs of Nigerian lawyers who do not have the chance to work in the UK under the deal. It is important for the House to acknowledge that forming partnerships with other countries can provide Nigeria with valuable opportunities to improve the economy. However, these partnerships must prioritize the well-being of all Nigerians and ensure that their interests are safeguarded.

National Assembly should investigate these issues for citizen’s benefits.

More so, the House recognizes the importance of utilizing its authority to create laws as outlined in Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as revised). It is the responsibility of the National Assembly to investigate issues like this for the benefit of the nation and its people. After receiving feedback from the public regarding the trade deal, the House acknowledged that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and its president, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), have raised concerns about the legality of the legal services component of the agreement. In response, they have called for a suspension of the signing and execution of the deal.

Furthermore, the House worries that the NBA’s statement may have alleviated fears among Nigerian lawyers and calmed the unrest caused by the rumoured trade agreement. It seems evident that there was not enough discussion with important parties and those impacted by the deal. The House is alarmed by the pressing necessity for the Legislature to conduct a thorough investigation into the trade agreement between the UK and Nigeria in order to understand its terms and conditions.

Related Article: Nigeria, UK Partner to Sign ETIP Agreement

He expressed concern that if prompt and practical actions are not taken to look into and resolve this matter, the nation could unknowingly be entering into an agreement that may ultimately be disadvantageous to both the country and the well-being of its citizens. The House is calling on the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment to pause the process of signing and implementing a trade agreement with the UK. They want to carefully review all terms and conditions before moving forward to ensure transparency and accountability. In order to address this issue, the House has instructed its Treaty, Protocol, and Agreement Committee to look into the matter and present their findings within four weeks for additional parliamentary measures.


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