In-Depth: Buhari signs trade pact with UAE to ease business activities

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja signed nine international agreements, including an extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), aimed at strengthening the anti-corruption war, boosting the economy and improving security in the country.

Buhari also expressed hope that signing the agreements would enable the country to pursue the war against corruption with vigour, check illicit flow of funds, boost the tax regime, guarantee food security and improve living standards.

The president, who signed the agreements in the Conference Hall of the First Lady’s office in the State House, Abuja, directed all relevant agencies to ensure that they play their defined roles in the implementation and application of the treaties, with a view to providing Nigeria with the inherent benefits.

He said his action was in compliance with the powers conferred on him by Section 5(1) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution and Article 7 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969.

The agreements signed by the president were the 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 an Extradition Treaty.

Others were: 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; and World Intellectual Property Organisation Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

Also included were agreements on World Intellectual Property Organisation Treaty on Audio-Visual Performances, and the Marrakesh Treaty targeted at facilitating access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise.

Describing the move as an important milestone in Nigeria’s sovereign capacity to fulfil its international obligations, the president further said it was another step in the pursuit of improving security, the economy and anti-graft war by the country.

He explained that the implementation had hitherto been delayed by the ratification process, disclosing that the eventual signing of the agreements Thursday was the bye-product of the memorandum earlier presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

According to him, the signing, which had equally been replicated in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the relevant treaties, provides Nigeria with the full fledged opportunity to enjoy cooperation with foreign authorities in the anti-corruption campaign.

“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 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…

“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.

“All agencies of government with roles to play under the respective treaties now ratified are hereby directed to ensure that they play their anticipated roles in an effective and responsible manner in order to ensure that we reap the full benefits of these agreements,” Buhari stated.

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