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Tempers Flare in Nigerian House Hearing on Chinese Loans

Three weeks of steadily building tensions over Chinese loans to Nigeria erupted in a House committee hearing on Monday. Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi and the Chairman of the House Committee on Treaties, Protocols, and Agreements, Nicholas Ossai, confronted one another in a series of heated exchanges over Chinese loan contracts, the number of local workers on Chinese construction projects and the precise value of the contracts.

Ossai sparked this latest controversy several weeks ago when he identified a clause in a Chinese loan contract that called for a limit to sovereign immunity in the event that commercial arbitration is required if Nigeria defaults on the loan. The Chairman erroneously interpreted that clause to mean that Nigeria is at risk of compromising its national sovereignty to China, which of course is not true.

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