No provision in Samoa compelling Nigeria to accept LGBTQ – NBA


The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has said there is no provision in the SAMOA agreement that requires Nigeria to accept or recognise Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) or gay rights, either as a pre-condition to access an alleged loan facility to the tune of 150 billion US dollars.

In a statement signed Tuesday by the NBA President, Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN, the association said, instead, the agreement was expressly made subject to the local laws and the sovereignty of the contracting nations.

He said the SAMOA agreement recognises Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2023 and the supremacy of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

He said that, since the NBA was involved by the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, prior to the signing of the SAMOA agreement, it would have advised the federal government not to enter or engage in any form of partnership or agreement that has the ability to undermine the sovereignty of Nigeria if the agreement was against Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage 2023 and the constitution.

The statement reads: “Prior to the signing of the SAMOA agreement, the Hon. Minister of Budget and Economic Planning requested the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), as a major stakeholder in the polity, to look at the agreement. Consequently, I constituted a committee chaired by Mr. Olawale Fapohunda, SAN, former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ekiti State and Chairman of the NBA Law Reform Committee, to vet, evaluate and advise on the agreement accordingly.

“The SAMOA Agreement (named after the central South Pacific Ocean country of Samoa, where the agreement was signed), is a broad legal framework between the European Union (EU) member states and more than half of the 79 members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS). It is meant to serve as a basis upon which subsequent specific agreements can be negotiated between the European Union and the Federal Government, its sub-nationals and/or the Private sector. The agreement covers Six (6) main areas, namely: democracy and human rights, sustainable economic growth and development, climate change, human and social development, peace and security, and migration and mobility.

“My attention was drawn to publications in newspapers and social media platforms, to reactions by some Nigerians to the signing of the SAMOA Agreement by the Federal Government; the alleged clauses in the agreement requiring Nigeria to endorse or accept LGBTQ rights, as a pre-condition to access an alleged loan facility to the tune of $150, 000, 000, 000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Billion USD), only.

“Contrary to the narrative being propagated either due to ignorance of the content of the agreement or, a deliberate intention to mislead the public (neither of which is good), I wish to state that there is no provision in the SAMOA agreement which requires Nigeria to accept or in anyway recognise LGBTQ or gay rights, either as a pre-condition for a loan of $150 Billion USD or at all.

“Instead, the agreement was expressly made subject to the local laws and the sovereignty of the contracting Nations. That is to say, the SAMOA agreement recognises, for instance, Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2023 and of course, the Supremacy of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). If this were not the case, the NBA would have since advised the Federal Government not to enter or engage in any form of partnership or agreement that has the ability to undermine the sovereignty of our nation in anyway. For avoidance of any doubt, the SAMOA agreement does not, in any way, seek to compromise our existing legislations nor undermine the sovereignty of Nigeria.

“It is important for all stakeholders, who have had the opportunity of engaging with Government on this agreement prior to its execution, and others who have read and understood the objective of the agreement to endeavour to educate the public on its true content. The negative narratives on this agreement are being pushed and propagated along very sensitive lines of our faith, culture and morality, thus the need for caution and proper education.

“I, therefore, call on Government to continue with the public enlightenment already being undertaken and for other stakeholders to join in doing so, in order to counter the negative perception being promoted on the agreement.”

“The public must, at all times, query newspaper and social media posts. Information in newspapers and social media platforms, should at the very best, put us on an enquiry – check facts to determine the veracity of information. August Ludwig von Schlözer (1735–1809), the German historian, journalist and publicist once wrote: “Foolish is the man who never reads a newspaper; even more foolish is the man who believes what he reads just because it is in the newspaper.” If this was written in today’s social networking culture, the reference to newspaper would have been the social media platforms. Let us beware!

“The NBA remains committed to ensuring that actions of Government are people-focused and, to the extent of information available to us, we shall see to it that nothing is done to compromise the integrity of our sovereign nation, Nigeria. The NBA will continue to engage with Government, advise, provide direction, advance the cause of the Nation and at the same time, hold Government to account on behalf of the people of this Country,” the NBA added.

…Reps wants implementation suspended

Amid the controversy, the House of Representatives has called for suspension of implementation of the Samoa Agreement pending the outcome its planned investigation into the issues.

The call was sequel to adoption of a motion Tuesday by the Deputy Minority Leader, Aliyu Madaki, and 88 others, drawing attention of the House to the alleged offensive clauses in the said agreement.

The motion

Moving the motion, Madaki claimed that the said clauses are in conflict with Nigerian law, adding that the government must not take any action that is against the values of the country.

“Articles 2.5, 29.5, 36.2, and 88 in the Samoa Agreement that was signed by the federal government may be inimical to the interest of Nigeria as a country and the values of our people as a whole, more so it does not contain a reservation clause.

“Article 2.5 states that parties shall systematically promote a gender perspective and ensure that gender equality is mainstreamed across all countries,” he said.

The lawmaker further interpreted the phrase “gender perspective” as a “Trojan horse to deceptively bring in all sorts of immorality to our country, as gender no longer means two sexes, male and female, as traditionally understood. It now includes homosexualism, lesbianism, transgenderism, and animalism.”

The debate

Speaking against the motion, the Majority Leader, Julius Ihonvbere, challenged his colleagues to provide a specific portion of the agreement that talks about LGBTQ.

He added that the 150 articles of the agreement contain no mention of same-sex relationships.

“I think the public has been misled on this. Let me state, there is no portion of the agreement that is on LGBTQ. If you have it, bring it here. In fact, three ministers have come out, including the Minister of Information, and Budget and Planning, to say that there is nothing like that in the agreement, and that it was never mentioned. It was never mentioned, and there is nothing like lesbian rights in the agreement. If you have the agreement, bring it out here. There is nothing like that,” he said.

However, in what has now become a pattern, some members shouted down Mr Ihonvbere and prevented him from making his submission.

Despite the explanation, Alex Ikwechegh (LP, Abia) continued the false claim that the agreement contained a condition on the legalisation of same-sex relationships.

Also, the Chief Whip of the House, Bello Kumo, maintained the same line of arguement in his submission.

In his contribution, the Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), cautioned his colleagues from passing judgement since the motion is seeking an investigation into the agreement.

He also blamed the federal government for the controversy on the agreement, adding that it was a case of lack of information.

The lawmaker said the executive arm should have carried the lawmakers along in the negotiation of the agreement.

“Because this is an investigative motion, I will caution that we should not be judgmental in our argument. It is clear, when the federal government is going into any agreement, by virtue of section 12 of the 1999 constitution, the parliament ought to be carried along.

“If the parliament had been carried along, this argument, even for the people we represent, would not have come up because Nigerians would have been better informed. The problem is about the lack of information. As parliament, we want to be satisfied that what the government told Nigerians is actually the truth. That is all we are arguing for,” he said.

After the long debate, the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Ben Kalu, put the motion to a vote, and member voted in support of it. (Additional reports from Premium Times)


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