July 18, 2024

Some clerics, rights activists, and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria are furious following the decision of the federal government to sign the controversial Samoa Agreement.

The agreement reportedly has some clauses that compel underdeveloped and developing nations to support the agitations by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community for recognition, as condition for getting financial and other supports from advanced societies.

Named after the Pacific Island Samoa, where it was signed on November 15, 2023, the agreement is gradually gaining traction, despite opposition by many countries that cherish Islamic and Christianity values, in addition to the sensitivity of their cultures.

Information about the ratification of the deal by Nigeria came to public knowledge on Monday, July 1, when the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu confirmed the development at a reception organised by the European Union (EU) in Abuja.

But when contacted on Wednesday, Bagudu’s media assistant, Bolaji Adebiyi, said the documents signed by the federal government, which the Minister of Budget made reference to during the reception by the EU, were strictly for economic development of Nigeria.

He said nowhere in the documents were LGBT or same sex marriage mentioned even remotely, and emphatically stating that it would be wrong for anyone to imply that Nigeria had accepted those tendencies.

He insisted that what Bagudu signed was in relation to $150 billion trade component.

When contacted yesterday to know whether they were aware of recent controversies surrounding the Samoa Agreement, Kamarudeen Ogundele, who is the spokesman of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Olasunkanmi Fagbemi SAN, said he had to make some findings.

He did not call our reporter back to share the information requested up to press last night.

Daily Trust reports that a Lagos State based lawyer and Chairman, Human and Constitutional Rights Committee, African Bar Association (AfBA), Sonnie Ekwowusi, had raised an alarm on the development on Wednesday, in an article on the matter.

He said that the development was nauseating, occurring despite several meetings held with Nigerian officials, and memoranda sent to them. He questioned the judgement of the Nigerian officials in proceeding to sign the Samoa Agreement.

“The Samoa Agreement, named after the Pacific Island, Samoa, where it was signed on November 15, 2023 is a celebration of perversity. Certain Articles of the Agreement especially Articles 2.5 and 29.5 legalise LGBT, transgenderism, abortion, teen sexual abuse, and perversity in African countries. The signing of the Agreement by Nigeria constitutes a threat to the sovereignty of Nigeria and Africa. It further debases our democracy.

“I can wager that neither Minister Atiku Bagudu nor the Nigerian officials or diplomats who signed the Samoa Agreement on our behalf, understand the import of the agreement to Nigeria’s sovereignty, let alone the destructive impact of the Agreement in Nigeria. This explains why many African bodies including the AfBA have condemned the agreement and respectfully urged African countries not to sign it.

“Not infrequently, Nigerian officials in Geneva, New York, and other places sign international agreements or treaties over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with little or no knowledge of their contents,” Ekwowusi said.

He further queried: “Were the Nigerian officials who signed the offensive Samoa Agreement representing their own interests or the interests of the Nigerian people? Having refused to sign the Agreement earlier, why did Nigeria change its mind and proceed to sign the Agreement?”

He recalled that on November 15, 2023, Nigeria, to the bewilderment of the EU, refused to sign the “offensive” deal.

He also said that apart from Nigeria, 34 other African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries, including the Republic of Benin, Senegal, Liberia, Botswana, Burundi, Jamaica, Mali, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, Namibia, Grenada, Eritrea, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, the Republic of Maldives, Mauritania, the Republic of Nauru, the Republic of Palau, Saint Lucia, the Republic of Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Kingdom of Tonga, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and Tuvalu, also refused to sign the LGBT Agreement.

“In fact, on that fateful November 15, 2023, Nigeria not only refused to sign the LGBT Agreement but was conspicuously absent in Samoa on the day of the signing. Frustrated by the refusal of these 35 countries to sign the Agreement, the European Union issued a significant threat dated November 24, 2023,” he said.

He said that the signing of the Samoa Agreement was completely unacceptable and Nigeria must undo the damage, by immediately withdrawing from the LGBT agreement.

He also urged the National Assembly to invite the Nigerian officials who signed the agreement to explain why they did so.

It won’t stand –NSCIA

When contacted Wednesday night, an official of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), said that the council’s stance on same sex marriage or LGBT remained unchanged.

Abubakar Akande, who is the Administrative Secretary of the council, said that though they were invited and attended the meeting in March this year, it was not for them to ratify or oppose the draft shared with them.

He said that the 403-page document containing 104 articles was given to the Legal Director of the NSCIA, and that there was no same sex marriage in the draft.

“We (NSCIA) would not welcome such agreement. Our stance remains the same since the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. We cannot agree to what is against the injunction of our Creator, Allah, on this matter, and which also disrespects Nigeria’s sovereignty,” he said.

On his part, the Ameer (leader), Abuja Muslim Forum (AMF), Alhaji Abdulrazaq Ajani, said that the African civil society organisations (CSOs), which the AMF is a part of, had met top government officials and members of the two chambers of the National Assembly yesterday, especially the chairmen of the relevant committees in the House of Representatives, and also the administrative leadership of the legislators.

He said they rejected the move completely.

N/Assembly didn’t consider Samoa Agreement – Rep Yusuf

When contacted yesterday, Rep. Rabiu Yusuf, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Protocols, and Agreements, said that the Samoa Agreement had not been brought before the National Assembly for consideration.

“To the best of my knowledge, nothing has happened in the National Assembly regarding the Samoa Agreement,” he said.

It’s a disgrace, if true-African CSOs

Speaking with Daily Trust Wednesday night, a coalition of some African CSOs said that it will be a huge disappointment for Nigeria and its citizens, if it turns out to be true that the deal was signed, and that it is toxic to the moral standing of the citizens of Nigeria.

Barrister Richard Kakeeto, a Kenyan lawyer with Family Watch International, Africa Region, told Daily Trust that Africa was counting on Nigeria when it decided not to sign the Samoa Agreement, initially.

“Many African countries, people of goodwill, were hoping that Nigeria will remain in that situation of not signing and probably even withdrawing from the Samoa Agreement totally.

“However, we have received information that on the 28th day of June 2024, the Ambassador of Nigeria in Brussels was given a go-ahead but we don’t know who signed the Samoa Agreement.

“As a result, Nigeria has committed itself to the human rights agenda of the European Union that involves the mainstreaming of sexual and reproductive health and rights, a term or a euphemism that is used to talk about abortion on demand, the sexualization of our children through comprehensive sexuality education, and the proliferation of reproductive sexual and reproductive health services, including hormones to sustain the homosexual lifestyle and transgender practices.

“The word LGBTQ++ that Nigerians have been contesting is now part of our law because Nigeria has decided to sign it. So, Nigerians should be very bitter with what is going on. They should challenge their legislators and policy makers to explain why they chose to commit to this dangerous agreement,” Kakeeto said.

On her part, Mrs. Omoye Olaye, Media Coordinator, World Council for Health (WCH) International and Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH), said the federal government must rescind the deal.

“Our stand is very clear. Whoever signed on behalf of Nigerians needs to apologise to Nigerians. But we need more than the apology. We need Mr. President, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to rescind that signature.

“All he (Tinubu) needs to do is to apologise on Nigeria’s behalf very nicely and tell them that the truth is we have not signed. We are withdrawing from the ACP EU Treaty. That is all we ask the President to do. That is all we will accept. Anything less than that will not be accepted,” she said.

Minister’s speech wrongly interpreted – Spokesman

Speaking more on what the budget minister said, Adebiyi said Ekwowusi’s article was misleading.

“The article does not represent the content of the Samoa Agreement signed by Nigeria. The Articles 2.5 and 29.5 cited made no mention of LGBT rights but rather 29.5 guarantees “support [for] universal access to sexual and reproductive health commodities and health care services, including family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes”, he said.

“Article 2.5 states that: “The parties shall systematically promote a gender perspective and ensure that gender equality is mainstreamed across all policies.

“I fail to see how these articles imply the protection of LGBT rights. Please, note that this is a negotiated agreement among the 27 EU countries and 79 OACPS, which is subject to domestic laws. All 27 EU countries and 74 of the 79 OACPS have signed. Nigeria was the 73rd to sign last Friday, 28th June, in Brussels.

“Following the controversy around the agreement, the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning organised a stakeholders meeting in March in Abuja, comprising NGOs and religious bodies during which concerns were addressed.

“Meanwhile, the EU reception the Minister attended was for the 9th Nigeria-EU Business Forum. It was held in Abuja (not Enugu) on July 1,” he said.

Ex-President Jonathan signed anti-gay law in 2014

Daily Trust reports that it was former President Jonathan who, in January 2014, signed into law a bill that criminalises same sex relationships, defying western pressure over gay rights and provoking United States criticism.

The law contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison and bans gay marriage, same sex ‘amorous relationships’ and membership of gay rights groups.

Various religious bodies across Nigeria have reiterated their commendations to past administrations for maintaining Nigeria’s strong objection to the LGBT tendencies.

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