Clerics, rights activists, and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria are expressing outrage over the federal government’s decision to sign the controversial $150 billion Samoa Deal. This agreement reportedly includes clauses that require underdeveloped and developing nations to support LGBTQ rights as a condition for receiving financial and other forms of support from advanced countries.

Named after the Pacific Island Samoa, where it was signed on November 15, 2023, the agreement is gaining traction despite opposition from many countries that uphold Islamic and Christian values and are sensitive to their cultural norms.

News of Nigeria’s ratification of the agreement emerged on Monday, July 1, when Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the minister of budget and economic planning, confirmed the development at a European Union (EU) reception in Abuja. However, Bagudu’s media assistant, Bolaji Adebiyi, clarified on Wednesday that the documents referenced by Bagudu during the EU reception pertained strictly to economic development and did not mention LGBTQ or same-sex marriage. Adebiyi insisted that Bagudu signed an agreement related to a $150 billion trade component, not LGBT issues.

When contacted for comments on the controversy surrounding the Samoa Agreement, Kamarudeen Ogundele, spokesman for the attorney general of the federation and minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, indicated he needed to gather more information and did not provide further details by press time.

Sonnie Ekwowusi, a Lagos-based lawyer and chairman of the Human and Constitutional Rights Committee of the African Bar Association (AfBA), raised concerns in an article on Wednesday. He criticised the signing of the Samoa Agreement, describing it as “nauseating” and questioned the judgment of Nigerian officials.

“The Samoa Agreement, named after the Pacific Island, Samoa, where it was signed on November 15, 2023, celebrates 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.

Ekwowusi further queried whether Nigerian officials who signed the agreement were representing the interests of the Nigerian people. He recalled that Nigeria and 34 other African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries had initially refused to sign the agreement on November 15, 2023. These countries include Benin, Senegal, Liberia, Botswana, Burundi, Jamaica, Mali, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, Namibia, Grenada, Eritrea, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, the Central African Republic, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Guyana, the Maldives, Mauritania, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tuvalu.

Ekwowusi noted that Nigeria’s refusal to sign the agreement on the original signing date frustrated the EU, which issued a threat on November 24, 2023. He called for Nigeria to immediately withdraw from the Samoa Agreement and urged the National Assembly to summon the officials who signed it to explain their actions.

When contacted, an official from the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) reiterated the council’s unchanged stance on same-sex marriage and LGBT issues. Abubakar Akande, the administrative secretary of NSCIA, 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. He mentioned that the 403-page document, containing 104 articles, was given to the NSCIA’s Legal Director and that it did not include provisions for same-sex marriage.

“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.

Similarly, Abdulrazaq Ajani, the Ameer (leader) of the Abuja Muslim Forum (AMF), reported that African civil society organisations (CSOs), including AMF, met with top government officials and members of both chambers of the National Assembly, particularly the chairmen of relevant committees in the House of Representatives. They also engaged with the administrative leadership of the legislators, and unequivocally rejected the proposed agreement.

When contacted, 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.

Recall that former President Goodluck Jonathan 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.

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