Home Latest Insights | News Nigerian House of Reps Calls for Suspension and Investigation of Controversial Samoa Agreement

Nigerian House of Reps Calls for Suspension and Investigation of Controversial Samoa Agreement

Nigerian House of Reps Calls for Suspension and Investigation of Controversial Samoa Agreement

The Nigerian House of Representatives has urged the federal government to halt the implementation of the $150 billion Samoa Agreement, citing concerns over the inclusion of controversial provisions related to LGBTQ rights.

This call for suspension and investigation follows a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Sani Madaki, the minority whip, alongside 87 other lawmakers.

The Samoa Agreement, according to the European Council, is a comprehensive framework governing the European Union’s (EU) relations with 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP). The agreement, signed on November 15, 2023, in Samoa, Oceania, covers six priority areas: democracy and human rights, sustainable economic growth and development, climate change, human and social development, peace and security, and migration and mobility.

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It is set to replace the Cotonou Agreement, which has been in place since 2000.

Controversy Surrounding the Agreement

The recent signing of the Samoa Agreement by the Nigerian government has sparked controversy, primarily due to reports suggesting the inclusion of provisions supporting LGBTQ rights. These claims have been hotly contested and have led to significant public and legislative debate.

The federal government, through Mohammed Idris, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, has clarified that the agreement does not contravene Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution or other existing laws. Idris explained that the agreement focuses solely on the economic development of the country and does not contain any provisions regarding same-sex marriage.

However, this explanation has failed to quell the raging agitation of Nigerians, especially in the north, over the agreement.

Nigeria’s Economic Crisis and the Search for Financial Relief

Economic experts have pointed out that Nigeria’s current financial crisis played a significant role in the decision to sign the Samoa Agreement. Nigeria has faced severe economic challenges, including dwindling revenue streams from its primary income sources such as oil exports.

This situation has left the country in a financial bind, struggling to meet its budgetary requirements and finance critical development projects. As a result, the government has been forced to look for financial support and partnerships wherever possible to stabilize the economy and ensure sustainable development.

The economic downturn has been made worse by global oil price fluctuations, rising debt levels, and a devalued currency. These factors have collectively strained the national economy, making it difficult for the government to fund essential services and infrastructure projects. In this context, international agreements such as the Samoa Agreement present an opportunity for Nigeria to secure much-needed economic aid and development partnerships.

During the legislative session, the motion to suspend the Samoa Agreement was presented by Sani Madaki, who argued that the agreement violates Nigeria’s laws on LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage. Supporting the motion, Ghali Tijani from Kano stated that the House should reject the agreement entirely. Bello Kumo, the majority whip, called for the federal government to rescind the deal and apologize to Nigerians.

However, not all lawmakers were in agreement. Kingsley Chinda, the minority leader and co-sponsor of the motion, urged his colleagues not to be judgmental but rather to support an investigation into the agreement. He highlighted the need for proper information dissemination and criticized the federal government for not involving the lawmakers in the decision-making process.

Julius Ihonvbere, the majority leader, defended the agreement, stating that there is no provision in the Samoa Agreement that supports LGBTQ rights. His comments were met with interruptions and shouts of “no” from other lawmakers, indicating deep-seated divisions and misunderstandings about the content of the agreement.

Nigeria’s Anti Same-Sex Law

Nigeria’s stance on LGBTQ rights is firmly established by the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) passed in 2014, which criminalizes same-sex marriage and LGBT rights. This legal framework underpins the uproar surrounding the Samoa Agreement, as any suggestion of support for LGBTQ rights is seen as a direct violation of Nigerian law.

In response to the controversy, the federal government has strongly denied the inclusion of any LGBTQ provisions in the Samoa Agreement. The Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, labeled the allegations as “despicable and wicked,” asserting that the document does not support same-sex marriage or LGBTQ rights.

The government has announced its intention to lodge a formal complaint with the NPAN Ombudsman against Daily Trust Newspaper, which reported the matter first, over what it describes as irresponsible reporting, and to seek redress through lawful means.

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