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Samoa Agreement: Has Nigeria adopted LGBTQ culture after signing?

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The Samoa Agreement refers to the international pact recently signed by the European Union (EU), and the Organisation of African, the Caribbean and the Pacific States (OACPS). The pact serves as a legal framework by which 15 states in the EU and 79 others in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific will engage each other beyond their territorial boundaries.

The origin of the pact started in 1959, with the Yaounde Agreement, and modified into the Cotonou Agreement afterwards. However, 20 years later, when the provisions of the latter could no longer meet the needs of member states, the Samoa Agreement was created, and adopted in November 2023.

Core ideals of the agreement

The essence of the international multilateral agreement is to achieve the following in its member states:

  1. Ensure human rights protection, uncompromised democracy, and government accountability.
  2. Promote peace and security.
  3. Foster human and social development.
  4. Create environmental sustainability and climate change reforms.
  5. Ensure inclusive and sustainable economic development. 
  6. Ease migration and mobility.

Nigeria as a beneficiary of the Samoa Agreement

The provisions of the Samoa agreement seek to address Nigeria’s basic national issues, and the country is a signatory to the pact for this foremost reason.

The agreement promises to accord capital grants, human and technical aids, and developmental provisions. It also seeks to improve certain national sectors such as education, health, and infrastructural development.

Moreso, the deal will widen the doors for Nigeria to engage in international trade markets, accruing more revenue outside its territories

By virtue of the pact, Nigeria will have the avenue to maximum representation in economic and globally challenging issues such as climate change and security. Due to its interaction with the EU and other member states from the OCAPS, it will receive aids and responses that would help to curb such social problems aforementioned. Moreso, since Nigeria is not the only country affected by these problems, it will only serve as a leading model to other countries within its local region, by virtue of the pact.

Lastly, since the provisions of the Samoa Agreement is in the interest of Nigeria, it will not be difficult for Nigeria to execute any of its obligations, simply because of its ties to other international pacts.

The Samoa Agreement, its varied provisions with local laws, masses objections

While the Samoa Agreement promises a better future in good faith for Nigeria, some of its ideals are bound to corrupt her national heritage and principles. One of such matters, which has become the highlight of recent controversies, is the LGBTQ clause included in the agreement. 

DUBAWA has previously published that the reason Nigeria was initially stalling the international multilateral agreement was because of the inclusion of the same-sex, homophobic and transgender movement, which is a non-alignment to Nigeria’s social-cultural ethics. 

Article 2.5 of the agreement mentions that member states should promote a gender perspective and maintain gender equality across all policies. Meanwhile, Article 29 encourages member states to support universal access to sexual and reproductive health commodities and health services. This includes family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.

In January 2014,  Mr Goodluck Jonathan, the then Nigerian president, passed into law a bill that criminalises same-sex relationships, defying opposition from Western governments to respect the LGBTQ community in the country. The law — which bans gay marriage, same-sex, amorous relationships and membership of gay rights groups — contains penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment. 

The clause has only attracted dissatisfaction and disapproval from the Nigerian citizenry as there have been calls on the government to go back on the agreement as seen herehere and here

What experts say

DUBAWA contacted Busola Ajibola, the Deputy Director of Journalism Programme at the Center for Journalism, Innovation and Development (CJID)  for her view on the gender-related clause. She said that the agreement made no mention of LGBTQ but “emphasises compliance with international conventions on sexual discrimination if country members are to access benefits entail in the agreement.”

Continuing, Ms Ajibola noted that while it gives no express privilege for a country’s members to legalise same-sex marriage, it “opens up  avenues for increased right demand from marginalised sexual oriented individuals or groups.”

“The same way we’ve had advocacy and rights demand for women, we will have the LGBTQ community making more demands. What has changed is that the government would be more obliged to respond if they want to access the full benefits of the agreement. They will, however, not be compelled to,” she further stated.

In an interview with DUBAWA, Badejoko Selimot, a Lagos-based lawyer, opined that the act of ratifying the Samoa agreement by Nigeria means they are bound by its provisions and, as such, impliedly supported the advocacy of LGBTQ.

“However, it is important to note that Section 1(3) of the 1999 CFRN (this is the ground norm for every other law in Nigeria) provides that any law which is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution is null and void to the extent of its inconsistency.

“So, Nigeria can hide under this provision to say that the provisions of the agreement are inconsistent with that of the constitution.

“I am saying, if we’re looking at the provisions of the constitution and the provisions of Samoa, it’s inconsistent. And whenever there’s inconsistency between the Nigerian Constitution and any other law, the Nigerian constitution will supersede the other law,” she explained. 

Olumide Alabi, another lawyer, agreed with Ms Selimot, saying the position of the law is clear on inconsistencies. “If articles in the agreement conflict with any existing Nigerian law, ours will remain supreme, and such articles can be void or repealed by the National Assembly,” he told DUBAWA.

Reacting, Inibehe Effiong, a legal practitioner, argued that it amounts to “intellectual duplicity” to say that the Samoa Agreement has nothing to do with LGBTQ. 

“The argument should have been that having been a signatory to this argument, will it supersede same-sex marriage prohibition acts?” He queried. 

Government’s reaction

Reacting to the uproar, Minister of Information Mohammed Idris said the Samoa Agreement, signed by Nigeria in June, is “nothing but a vital legal framework for cooperation between the OACPS and the  European Union, to promote sustainable development, fight climate change and its effects, generate investment opportunities, and foster collaboration among OACPS Member States at the international stage.”

Mr Idris said Nigeria has “an existing legislation against same-sex relationships and, contrary to reports, the Samoa Agreement does not invalidate any of Nigeria’s laws.”

Bolaji Adebiyi, the media assistant to the Minister of Budget, also stressed that the agreement was signed  mainly for the economic development of the country, not the LGBTQ rights. 

“The documents signed by the federal government, were strictly for economic development of Nigeria, nowhere in the documents were LGBT or same sex marriage mentioned even remotely, and it would be wrong for anyone to imply that Nigeria had accepted those tendencies. What Bagudu signed was in relation to a $150 billion trade component,” he said. 

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