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General

Diplomatic immunity not same as commercial immunity, Amaechi, Malami correct NASS

“Concessions relating to immunity for the purpose of provision of commercial guarantee are a normal, traditional ritual. Nations enter into respective interstate agreements and in the course of so doing, surrendering their jurisdictional immunity. It is on account of that for example that you see Nigeria signing an agreement with other institutions or nations and agreeing to a choice of territorial jurisdiction for the purpose of determining disputes when they arise. So that is how eventually you see Nigeria submitting to jurisdiction for determination of a trade dispute in UK, in Paris and in other international fora or jurisdiction even when Nigeria as a nation has diplomatic immunity.

“And now that brings you to commercial immunity. The context and the implication of a commercial immunity or sobriety. It’s indeed embedded in an appreciation that country A requests for a loan facility from country B and then country B is entitled as a matter of right to extract a commitment, an understanding that at the end of the day, the loan advance will eventually be paid. So it is indeed a concession and sobriety, giving an undertaking, providing a guarantee for repayment of the facility when the need arises. So commercial immunity is in essence a mere guarantee that allows an advancing state an opportunity, right and power to claim back the financial advances made to a party state and that in its own right is indeed to an asset for the purpose of repayment of the loan,” Malami said.

The AGF added that the clause is a mere guarantee, a commitment that allows an advancing state (the lender) the powers to claim back an asset for the purpose of repayment of a loan and is in no way connected to the sovereignty of a country.

“The bottom line is to appreciate the difference between International diplomatic immunity which in its essence and right is an immunity relating to the independent existence of a state, and a commercial immunity which in essence is a commitment that you are now conceding that in the event of default of payment of an advanced amount of money, you will have the right to now attach the commercial asset of a borrowing state for the purpose of satisfaction. So that is where I think the misconception set in,” he stated.

On his part, Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi again dispelled the notion that Nigeria’s sovereignty has been signed off to China in obtaining the loans, saying: “A sover- eign 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 said the previous administration cannot even be blamed for the loan or clause in the agreement because it is a standard clause.”

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