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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nigeria Indeed Ratified the FCTC

Contrary to the views expressed by Eze Eluchie questioning the status of Nigeria in relation to the FCTC, Nigeria surely ratified the FCTC.

From his long submission, it is very clear that he has no idea about what has been going on in the tobacco control circle either in Nigeria or at the international community. Perhaps it would be helpful for Mr Eze to wait to learn from other Lawyers attending the Lawyer's Circle meeting in kenya. I need to note here that everyone is excited about the progress made in Nigeria.

Maybe the first thing to do is to pause and ask this question: of what use is Eze's debate at this point that Nigeria is on the verge of passing a comprehensive – FCTC compliant National Tobacco Control Bill? This question leaves us with a further question of verifying Eze's motive behind this long, unnecessary debate. Are we confronted with a force on the side of the Tobacco Companies with deliberate effort to stall the process of passing the tobacco control bill in Nigeria and subsequently in other African countries? Do we simply believe that Eze is playing to the gallery as the man who knows what others do not know? Or is he seeking cheap recognition? Whichever way it goes, we need to put this to a dead end, now!

First, to his question, Nigeria ratification document was signed by President Olusegun Obasanjo. The document bore Obasanjo’s classical signature. It was not signed by any other official. It was signed in Abuja, Nigeria and not in New York. The United Nations has strict rules about who can sign such documents. He ought to have checked on that. I do not know where Eze got the idea that "tobacco multinationals based in Nigeria would be laughing themselves silly at our folly" I think the real silly thing we can avoid here is to engage in debate that demonstrate shallow understanding of issues.

Secondly, after the FCTC ratification document was signed in Abuja by the President,it was first by fax to the UN office in New York. And because of the pressure from tobacco control advocates and Federal Ministry of Health officials on the government, a senior official of the Foreign Affairs Ministry was sent from Abuja to New York to deliver a hard copy of the document. If truly Mr. Eze conducted any research at all, he should have unravelled all these information. Obviously, I can not continue to believe that Mr Eze is genuinely unaware of all these. If it happens to be true that he has no such information, I am not certain that the Lawyer's meeting in Kenya has much to benefit from such a tobacco control lawyer, who lacks complete knowledge of happenings within his immediate country.

Was there a parliamentary session to debate FCTC ratification? The answer is NO. But there was indeed an executive council meeting in July, 2005 (I wont be able to go into too much details of the meeting in this e-mail) where the decision to ratify the FCTC was taken after consultations with the Principal Officials of the parliament. The decisions taken that day is contained in an official government gazette. Mr Eze was correct that Nigeria wanted to be part of the first 40 but Nigeria missed that target because of the four months delay in sending the document from Abuja to New York. He is also correct that tobacco control advocates were involved. Truly, 150 copies of the FCTC were shipped overnight by night bus to Abuja for the Federal Executive Council meting. Those activists also came on hand when the official government gazette got stocked at the Government Press in Lagos. Mr Eze ought to have questions at home first before going on the net. There is a long list of international treaties ratified by the Nigerian government using same process.

Anybody, that is following tobacco news from Nigeria will know that what Mr. Eze said about the tobacco companies and the Nigerian government is a bundle of lies. The government has a gazetted document placing embargo on further tobacco investments in Nigeria. It stopped Japan Tobacco from establishing an $80 million cigarette plant in Nigeria. At a recent investment meeting in China, the Nigeria Investment Promotion Council made this very clear.

Way Forward

Nigeria is currently debating the National Tobacco Control Bill. The Public Hearing was opened by no other person than Senate President, David Mark, who made categorical statements such as “We stand between health and economy. That is the truth of the matter. People who are against it are worried about the impact on the health of Nigerians and people who are for it are saying well, the nation stands to benefit from it. The simple question is: “when do you begin to worry about economy? Is it when you are dead or when you are alive?” This got a huge coverage in the media.

Mr Eze was not at the Public Hearing but he should have read about the progress made on the National tobacco control bill. Apart from the Senate President, several senators have spoken at public fora about their support for the bill. If Mr. Eze has ever been involved in legislative advocacy, he would have realised that to get to public hearing, the Bill has passed two plenary debates and there were none of his federal legislators with “ palpable animosity” to shoot down the bill. Infact lets ask ourselves how many bill get passed first reading and second reading at the Nigerian Senate? Getting the National Tobacco Control Bill up to a successful Public Hearing in a country with huge BAT investment is no mean feat. It should not be trivialised. It cannot be wished away.

It is imperative to state that with the government agencies that were present at the public hearing, which attracted the best Parliamentarians and lawyers you can think of in Nigeria today no one, not even all the tobacco companies present raised any question around Nigeria’s ratification. Infact that was the first issue that was settled before the draft bill went to parliament. Nigeria needs no spoiler now. (The Public hearing had the most respected Professor of law, Yemi Osibajo (SAN), Barrister Uche Onyeaghucha, Prof jubril Aminu, Marian Uwais, a bar leader , Nurudeen Ogbara and some Senators who are also lawyers)

What Nigeria needs now is not ratification campaign but the passage of the Tobacco Control Bill.

The intent and motive of this debate is mischievous, and we should put this debate to death.


Tosin Orogun
Programme Manager

Africa Tobacco Control Regional Initiative (ATCRI)
Initiative régionale pour la lutte contre le tabac en Afrique (IRCTA)
Iniciativa regional para a luta contra o tabaco em África (IRCTA)

Phone: +234[802] 390 2518, +234[1] 811 1319
Skype: tosinorogun
Windows Live Messenger:


Has Nigeria indeed ratified the FCTC?

Dear Colleagues,

Has Nigeria indeed ratified the FCTC?

The title of this seems and is shocking, as it appears to contradict with the reality of the deposition of an ‘Instrument of Ratification’ of the FCTC by a Nigerian government official at the Headquarters of the appropriate place for such depositions on the 20th of October 2005.

Ratification of international treaties and conventions, it must be stressed is a technical requirement. The ‘deposition of an instrument of ratification’ is primarily symbolic and ought to be the culmination of a ratification process.

Nigeria operates a Presidential system of government modeled after the system practiced in the United States of America, with a President heading the Executive arm of government and a bi-cameral legislative structure at the federal level comprised of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Signing of international treaties, conventions and instruments is the prerogative of the Executive arm of government; ratification of such instruments is done by the Legislature.

The FCTC was duly signed by Nigeria – authorization to do so having been made at a duly constituted meeting of Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council.

Ratification of international instruments on the other hand is a function of the legislative arm of government. The Executive presents signed international instruments, to the Legislators (in the case of Nigeria, to the Senate and House of Representative) for ratification.

Tobacco control activists across Nigeria were engrossed in ensuring that we were not left behind in becoming one of the first 40 countries to ratify the FCTC. Towards ensuring ratification, different activists and advocates were focused on different legislators and other relevant policy makers. As such when the announcement was made of Nigeria having deposited the instrument of ratification, we were all engulfed in the euphoria of the moment and the positive advantages that would accrue to our country (and probably our prestige amongst international colleagues) by virtue of the ratification it obviously skipped our minds to ask two pertinent questions: How and When?

We first stumbled across the hint of non-ratification by Nigeria in the course of our RITC sponsored research project on “Empowering Civil Society to become effective advocates for the ratification/accession of the FCTC in the West Africa sub-region”, as some legislators seemed rather ignorant of what they ought to have ‘ratified’.

Following palpable animosity displayed by some federal legislators towards the FCTC in the course of a recent Public Hearing on a draft tobacco control bill, we undertook a more detailed study of the legislative records of proceedings for the period immediately preceding the ‘deposition of the instrument of ratification’ by Nigeria.

We were embarrassed and stunned by our findings - the FCTC (either as an entity, in whole or in part) has never been presented, debated upon or approved by neither the Nigerian Senate nor the House of Representatives acting jointly or severally. Legally and technically speaking Nigeria COULD NOT AND HAS NOT ratified the FCTC. HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED?Under the immediate past rulership of General Olusegun Obasanjo,(during which period the FCTC was purportedly ratified), due process and rule of law were distant from the regimes priorities. Countless blunders were made with regards to international legal instruments – one of the most apparent being the ceding away of some parts of Nigeria (Bakassi area) to Cameron by Executive fiat. The current regime of President Yar’Adua had to revert and represent the matter for Legislative approval to correct the anomaly.

In my thinking a ‘zealous’ bureaucrat at the Nigerian mission to the United Nations headquarters must have dipped hands into his drawers, brought out a pre-typed ‘instrument of ratification’ and probably added the name “Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” to the instrument, deposited same at the appropriate place for the deposition of ‘instrument of Ratification’ and pronto, Nigeria had ratified. Is this what a Ratification should be like? Definitely No!

All international instruments duly ratified by Nigeria (signed by the Executive arm and approved by the Legislative arm of government) automatically become a component part of our domestic legislations. In the case of the FCTC, it would have been possible for an interested party in Nigeria to sue the Government of Nigeria compelling it to show plans or actions towards attaining some of the time-bound specifications contained in the FCTC.

Non-Ratification means that the FCTC is unknown to the Nigerian legal system and cannot found any action in a Nigerian Court.

This situation is unfortunate and I am very sure the tobacco multinationals based in Nigeria would be laughing themselves silly at our folly.

It is a fact that one cannot expect the officials of the United Nations or the World Health Organization to begin to enquire into the format of individual country legal systems to confirm ratification or otherwise. It however behoves on interested parties to communicate the reality in the hope that records could be set right for the overriding benefit of our country.

Nigeria’s status (not ratified) with regards to the FCTC should be properly reflected to serve as an impetus to ensure the Ratification of the FCTC by Nigeria.

With Nigeria’s recent election as a non Permanent Member of the Security Council for the next one year, we are provided with a unique opportunity to ask the current regime in Nigeria to live up to Nigeria’s ranking in Africa by Ratifying the FCTC – I will bet you such pressure works like magic where we come from.

Recent fraternization between our Government and tobacco multinationals operating in Nigeria (symbolized by the recent Nigerian business delegation to the Gulf Arab States led by our Vice President, wherein British America Tobacco Plc and two other companies were showcased) highlights the reality that those in government are not unaware of the anomaly of Nigerians listing on the FCTC as a country that has ‘ratified’ the FCTC.

It must be done right for it to be useful and meaningful!Are there any other African countries or other jurisdictions in similar situations? I will like to hear from advocates from such countries and other legal experts on how to overcome this bizarre situation.

I also look forward to discussing the matter at the forthcoming Lawyers Circle workshop on the FCTC scheduled for Nairobi Kenya.


Eze Eluchie, Esq
Executive Director
People Against Drug Dependence & Ignorance (PADDI Foundation)
1st Bus Stop Road
(Kilometer 4, Owerri – Onitsha Road)
Irete, Owerri
Imo State
Tel: 234-83-303686234-8023237448