Don't Probe Chinese Loans, Amaechi tells Reps

Don’t Probe Chinese Loans, Amaechi tells Reps

The Nigerian Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has told the House of Representatives not to probe Chinese loans as that may sabotage the loan deal between Nigeria and China to finance the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project.

Amaechi, who made this statement yesterday in Abuja stated that the Chinese government had said if there were issues, the negotiations would not be concluded.

The statement reads:

“The investigation being carried out by the National Assembly may frustrate the loan agreement between us and China on the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project. So, if tomorrow we are unable to construct the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway because we didn’t get the loan, it is because of the investigation by the National Assembly.

“I told the National Assembly that they can investigate but they should allow us to get the loan first.

“If they stop the work from Ibadan to Kano, it is because of the investigations, same with Lagos to Calabar railway. If you think there is corruption, investigate corruption. What we are saying is that we should conclude negotiation first because there is pressure affecting the Chinese government in which they are talking to us directly. So, for me, what is primary here should be national interest. We have the approval to construct the Lagos-Ibadan, Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Calabar rail lines; we are also at the point of negotiating for the loans. Summoning us to the National Assembly to come and address the loans would look like the government is no longer interested in the loan,” he said.

“One good thing about the loan we are collecting is that they are not paid to us, they are paid directly to the contractors who execute those projects,” he explained.

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On plans to repay the loans, the minister said that profit generated from the train service would be used to repay the loans to China.

Don't Probe Chinese Loans, Amaechi tells Reps
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi

The probe by the National Assembly was necessitated by the uncovering of clauses in a loan collected by the Nigerian Government from China that concedes the country’s sovereignty to the Asian country.

The Chairman, House Committee on Treaties, Protocol and Agreements, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, raised the alarm while probing loans received by the government.

The committee noted that the clauses in Article 8(1) of the commercial loan agreement signed between Nigeria and Export-Import Bank of China allegedly concede the sovereignty of Nigeria to China in the $400m loan for the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project signed in 2018.

According to a report by ThisDay, the controversial clause in the agreement signed by Federal Ministry of Finance (borrower) on behalf of Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China (lender) on September 5, 2018, provides that, “The borrower hereby irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to Article 8(5), thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuant thereto, except for the military assets and diplomatic assets.”

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