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No MoU Allows UK Lawyers To Practice In Nigeria, FG Says As It Clarifies ETIP Agreement

The government apologized for their “erroneous” initial comment after they received backlash from Nigerians.

Nigeria’s federal government has provided clarity on a number of aspects of the Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP) agreement which was signed with the United Kingdom on Tuesday.

This happened a few hours after the federal government of Nigeria was criticised by the people for signing a “one-sided memorandum of understanding (MOU)” with the UK.

Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anitie, tweeted on Tuesday announcing that Nigeria was signing an agreement to eliminate obstacles that prevented UK attorneys from practicing international law in Nigeria. The announcement was also made by the UK Department of Business and Trade.

However, the alleged agreement was denounced by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), who described the minister’s comments as “ridiculous, unpatriotic, and uninformed”.

Uzoka-Anitie, in a thread on X, withdrew her previous statement, saying that there was no legal agreement between Nigeria and the UK.

She went on to say that the agreement was carefully considered and negotiated by professionals from a range of sectors.

In her tweet, she said, “Earlier today, Nigeria signed a far-reaching MOU with the United Kingdom for Enhanced Investment Partnership.

“It is a robust partnership understanding which promises to be a springboard for immense growth in trade relations with the United Kingdom.

“The Partnership was well thought-out and painstakingly negotiated by Nigerian experts across various sectors.

“It touched on areas of mutual business interests including finance, technical barriers to trade, healthcare, investment, customs and trade facilitation, agriculture, intellectual property, creative industry and legal services – to mention a few.

“Regrettably, our earlier report erroneously suggests that Nigeria has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that allows lawyers licensed in the United Kingdom to practise in Nigeria.

“We wish to state emphatically that there is no such provision or agreement in the MOU.”

The minister reiterated that Nigeria and the UK do not have a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), and that neither the MOU nor any other agreement commits Nigeria to allowing UK-licensed lawyers to operate in Nigeria.

She stated, “As it currently stands, foreign licensed lawyers (including those licensed in the U.K.) cannot practice in Nigeria, as categorically stated in the MOU.

“We recognise that cross jurisdictional practice between Nigeria and the United Kingdom is still an on-going conversation amongst relevant stakeholders within the legal practitioners’ community in Nigeria, and this was reflected in the MOU.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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