From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate yesterday urged the Federal Government to stop receiving prisoners under the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (TSP) from the United Kingdom with a view to normalising the agreement between Nigeria and Britain on the issue.
It, therefore, invited the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami and his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama, to shed light on the TSP with regard to the agreement entered into between the two countries.
The resolutions followed a motion, titled “Urgent need to regularise the agreement between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the government of the United Kingdom on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons”, sponsored by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
The ministers are to appear before the joint Senate Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, and Foreign Affairs, which were directed to report back to the Red Chamber within one month. The Senate also directed the joint committee to invite the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazzau (rtd) to brief them on his level of involvement in complying with the agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons between Nigeria and the United Kingdom and report back within one month to enable it take further actions on the matter.
Similarly, the Upper Legislative Chamber mandated the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to invite Malami to give an update on the status of ratification of all treaties from 1999 to 2017, and report back within one month.
Leading debate on the motion, Ekweremadu said the agreement was made by both countries on January 9, 2014, by former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, on behalf of Nigeria, and United Kingdom’s Minister of Justice, Jeremy Wright.
Ekweremadu said: “Based on the agreement, the government of the United Kingdom has commenced the return of several prisoners to Nigeria, and has currently initiated the application for the transfer of more prisoners to Nigeria.
“The United Kingdom has referred to this agreement as compulsory, whereas the content of the agreement made no mention, nor indicated that the agreement was compulsory.
“The senate is cognisant that international law is based on cooperation of states, as such the rule of international law implies that where parties have contracted a cooperation agreement, they are expected to do all that is necessary to ensure a successful application of the agreement by following the essential internal constitutional and legal procedures required.”
He was disturbed that the provisions of Nigeria’s constitution regarding section 12(1) has not been complied with, saying, “the agreement in this instance, signed by the then Attorney General of the Federation, was not subjected to legislative scrutiny or enactment by the National Assembly; the agreement is, therefore, not in force.”
The deputy Senate president further expressed worry that the British National Offender Management Service may be under a misinformed impression that all the internal procedures have been completed, warranting the entity to enforce the agreement on September 29.