Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Nigerians Criticize Signing Of $150 Billion Deal Covering LGBTQ Rights, But Government Says No Cause For Alarm

Tinubu signs document

By Iliya Kure

Nigerians are criticizing Government’s action of signing the controversial Samoa Agreement which they say will promote LGBTQ rights in the country.

In 2014, Nigeria, a multi-cultural and multi-religious nation introduced a law prohibiting same sex relationship.

Concerned individuals and groups comprising civil society and religious organizations are of the opinion that as a condition for getting the funds, the Samoa Agreement has some clauses that “compel” signatories to support the agitations by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community.

The pact, which was reached at the Pacific Island Samoa on November 15, 2023, has continued to gain grounds, especially across countries highly dependent on financial aids.

Reacting to the controversy on his X (formerly Twitter) handle, a former Nigerian law maker, Sen. Shehu Sani, called on African countries, including Nigeria, that appended their signatures to go back and ‘unsign’ the agreement.

“African states should not accept loans or grants from any country, group of countries or international institutions that came with demonic conditions antithetical to our culture, religious faiths and values,” he said.

Also reacting, an official of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Abubakar Akande, reiterated the council’s stance on same-sex marriage and LGBT issues.

“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.

He stated that although they attended a meeting in March this year, it was not their role to ratify or oppose the draft presented to them.

Chairman of the Human and Constitutional Rights Committee of the African Bar Association (AfBA), Sonnie Ekwowusi had raised a similar concern in an article on Wednesday.

He criticised the signing of the Samoa Agreement, describing it as “nauseating” and questioned the judgment of Nigerian officials.

But speaking in defense of the deal, Spokesperson to Minister of Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Bolaji Adebiyi, said the documents signed by the federal government were strictly for economic development of the country.

He said nowhere in the documents were LGBTQ 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.

“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 organized a stakeholder meeting in March in Abuja, comprising NGOs and religious bodies during which concerns were addressed,” he said.

On Thursday, Nigerias Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, in a statement said, the agreement was signed after extensive reviews and consultations by the Interministerial Committee, convened by the Federal Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning (FMBEP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ).

“It was ensured that none of the 103 Articles and Provisions of the Agreement contravenes the 1999 Constitution as amended or laws of Nigeria, and other extant Laws.

“In addition, Nigeria’s endorsement was accompanied by a Statement of Declaration, dated 26th June 2024, clarifying its understanding and context of the Agreement within its jurisdiction to the effect that any provision that is inconsistent with the laws of Nigeria shall be invalid. It is instructive to note that there is an existing legislation against same sex relationship in Nigeria enacted in 2014,” he stated.

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