Sovereignty and Legal protection of foreign Investment under the Nigerian investment Promotion Decree: Conflict or Convergence?

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By Mohammed Babangida Umar Esq. (August 2013)

ABSTRACT:

In its zeal to attract foreign direct investment, the Nigerian Government has enacted The Nigerian Investment Promotion Decree in 1995 with a view to creating a “conducive” or “enabling environment” for such investments. These include the protection of the foreign investor and investment against political and economic risks such as nationalization or expropriation, regulatory or administrative barriers, restrictions on repatriation of capital, profit and dividends and discriminatory and unstable tax regime. But in the exercise of its political and economic sovereignty the state asserts a degree of control on the entire process with a view to making a value judgment on and maximizing the benefits of the investment in the  “national interest”, “public policy” or its political and economic objectives. The nature and effect of this control has led to the question as to whether some of the measures are in conflict with the provisions and objectives of the decree and other statutes to the extent that they constitute varied degrees of “impediments” or “barriers” to foreign investment quite contrary to “ the incantations of government officials that they are now “open and friendly” to private investors”. The paper is thus an attempt to determine the nature and effect of the conflict or convergence, a task complicated by the lack of consensus on the interface between the conflicting interests of the capital importing nation and the proprietary interests of the capital exporting ones. The finding is that the determination of the issues must be predicated on a “fair and objective“ balance between the conflicting rights and obligations of the parties arising from the constitutional and other statutory guarantees and the extent to which this is affected by other international obligations.

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