FG Changes Tune, Says UK Lawyers Can’t Practise in Nigeria

The Federal Government of Nigeria has reversed its previous stance on the legal implications of the Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership signed with the United Kingdom on Tuesday. This decision comes in the wake of public criticism from Nigerians regarding the perceived one-sided nature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked with the UK.

Doris Uzoka-Anite, the Nigerian Minister for Trade and Investment, took to a thread on X to retract her earlier statement, clarifying that there is no existing legal agreement between Nigeria and the UK as previously claimed. The move reflects a response to public concerns and underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in international agreements.

She said: “Earlier today, Nigeria signed a far-reaching MoU with the United Kingdom for Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership.

“Regrettably, our earlier report erroneously suggest that Nigeria has signed a Memorandum of Understanding 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 further stated that Nigeria does not have a Mutual Recognition Agreement with the UK and made no commitment under the MOU or elsewhere, to allow UK-licensed lawyers practise in Nigeria.

“As it currently stands, foreign licensed lawyers (including those licensed in the UK) cannot practise in Nigeria, as categorically stated in the MoU.

“We recognise that cross jurisdictional practice between Nigeria and the United Kingdom is still an ongoing conversation amongst relevant stakeholders within the legal practitioners community in Nigeria, and this was reflected in the MoU,” she added.

It will be recalled that on Tuesday, a statement by the UK’s Department of Business and Trade, and a tweet from Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investment, had disclosed that Nigeria was signing a deal to remove barriers preventing UK lawyers from practising international law in Nigeria.

Reacting to the tweets, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) condemned the purported agreement, stating that the statement credited to the minister was “ridiculous, unpatriotic, and uninformed.”