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Suspend Samoa Agreement’s implementation – Reps tell FG

The House of Representatives Tuesday asked the federal government to suspend implementation of the Samoa Agreement which has sparked arguments in the last few days.…

The House of Representatives Tuesday asked the federal government to suspend implementation of the Samoa Agreement which has sparked arguments in the last few days.

The House also resolved to scrutinise the agreement signed by the federal government on June 28, 2024, to ascertain if there are contentious clauses therein.

This followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by the Minority Whip, Aliyu Sani Madaki (NNPP, Kano) and 87 other lawmakers.

According to the European Council, the Samoa Agreement is the overarching framework for European Union’s (EU) relations with African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries.

The agreement serves as a new legal framework for EU relations with 79 countries in the affected regions.

The agreement was officially signed on November 15, 2023, by the EU and its member states and Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States’ (OACPS) members.

The new agreement replaces the Cotonou Agreement, which was signed in 2000.

While moving the motion on behalf of his colleagues, Rep. Madaki said the agreement violates the nation’s law on LGBTQ and same-sex marriage.

He said: “On June 28, 2024, the federal government signed what is known as the Samoa Agreement with the European Union (EU) to boost food security and inclusive economic development, among other vital areas.

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

“Article 97 of the Agreement, which states that, ‘no treaty, convention, agreement or arrangement of any kind between one or more member States of European and one or more OACPS Members shall impede the implementation of this Agreement”, is supremacy Clause, and thus violates Nigeria’s sovereignty.

“Some other articles, especially Articles 2.5, 29.5, 36.2, and 88 in the Samoa Agreement that was signed by the federal government may be inimical to the interest of Nigeria as a country and the values of our people as a whole, more so it does not contain a Reservation Clause.

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

“The phrase gender equality as reported is Trojan Horse for deceptively bringing in all sort of immorality to our country, as gender no longer means two sexes – male and female as traditionally understood, it now includes homosexuality, lesbianism, transgenderism and animalism.

“The signing of such an agreement with the aforementioned clauses, if true, violates our sovereignty and is a clear contravention of Section 124 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“The federal government may have signed the agreement without exhaustive consultations and consideration for possible long-term consequences,” he said.

In his contribution, the House Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) said the parliament was not carried along in the process of the signing of the agreement, while Nigerians were kept in darkness about what the agreement was all about.

Similarly, the House Chief Whip, Usman Bello Kumo (APC, Gombe), said the House would never support any agreements that are contrary to the belief, norms and culture of Nigerians.

The movers of the motion, therefore, urged the House to thoroughly investigate the agreement. The House adopted the motion and referred it to its relevant committees for further legislative action.

Speaking to journalists after the plenary, Rep. Inuwa Garba (PDP, Gombe), said the House was united in rejecting the agreement because it will affect the lives of Nigerians.

On countries that have signed the agreement, the lawmaker said: “Well, they are there, we are here. Maybe, in their own belief, they can do anything they want.”

Also speaking on the matter, Rep. Abubakar Makki Yelleman (APC, Jigawa), said what transpired was what the lawmakers and Nigerians believe will be better for the country.

“We heard about the signing of the agreement in the media. But remember, Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution (As amended) has given us the strength to scrutinise treaties and agreements that the executive is going to sign”, he said.

 

We’re studying the situation – FG

Contacted yesterday, the Special Assistant to the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Rabiu Ibrahim, said: “The House of Representatives is exercising its constitutional responsibility as one of the two arms of Nigeria’s bi-cameral legislature.

“The Executive is studying the House’s Resolution at this point”, he said.

 

Ministry reports Daily Trust to Ombudsman

Meanwhile, the federal government has officially lodged a letter of complaint to the Ombudsman of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) over the Daily Trust report of July 4 on the Samoa Agreement.

In a letter dated July 8, 2024, and signed by Dr. Ngozi Onwudiwe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and National Orientation, the federal government stated that the content of the report was misleading and threatened. national security.

The letter titled ‘Complaint Against the Daily Trust Newspaper on Publication of Fake News and Public Incitement,’ asked the Ombudsman to carry out thorough investigation of the alleged misleading publication with a view to censure the newspaper.

The demands of the federal government to the Ombudsman also include: “To direct the management of Daily Trust to publicly retract and correct the false information with equal prominence as the original article; and also direct the management of Daily Trust Newspaper to issue an unequivocal apology for recklessly disseminating false information.

“Also, for the management of Daily Trust Newspaper to implement stricter editorial guidelines to prevent a repeat of such report by any newspaper in the future,” it equally demanded.

The federal government further said that it “Would consider the extreme route of instituting legal action should the management of Daily Trust newspaper fail to retract its publication and apologise to the public.”

In its response, the management of Daily Trust acknowledged receipt of the letter by the federal government, adding that it has appointed a lawyer of national standing to independently review and state a position.

 

Ita Enang asks N/Assembly to sue FG

Senator Ita Enang, who had served as Senior Special Assistant to former President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters, has urged the National Assembly to file a lawsuit against the federal government over the signing of treaties.

He was reacting to the recent signing of the Samoa Agreement by the President Bola Tinubu-led administration.

Reacting Tuesday on Channels TV’s Political Paradigm, Enang said an agreement pursuant to a treaty must be made to pass through the National Assembly before being signed by the government. He alleged that since 2002, the federal government had not been carrying the National Assembly along.

He said: “Even if it is an agreement pursuant to a treaty, so long as the interest of Nigeria is involved, it has to be laid before the National Assembly. I am urging the National Assembly to take this matter to court.

“It’s not fighting the executive, because it will be helping Nigeria to determine whether all these treaties from 2002 till today, which is 22 years, which Nigeria has been signing without it being ratified by the National Assembly, some binding states, which those states are not a party to, because treaties of a certain character have to also pass through to the state houses of assembly and be approved by them before it can be finally passed by the National Assembly.

“They should take this matter for interpretation, either to the Supreme Court, its original jurisdiction. The National Assembly now has committees on treaties, which are standing committees, not in my time when it was ad hoc, just to address.

“The National Assembly or the Attorney General of the Federation, just like they have done in certain cases like the local government should go to court to interpret whether treaties ought to be laid before the National Assembly before they can become a law and if it is not, what is the legal status of the treaties, conventions and protocols which Nigeria has entered into, even the ones that grant loans, because if it is not lawful, then it is at the risk of countries or institutions, which have granted Nigeria money”, he added.

 

We’re privy to Samoa Agreement – NBA

Earlier yesterday, before the House of Representatives took a position on the matter, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) dismissed the claims that the Samoa Agreement signed by the federal government requires Nigeria to endorse or accept LGBTQ rights.

In a statement, the NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau, stated that the agreement did not compromise Nigeria’s sovereignty or existing laws, including the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2023.

Maikyau, while calling on the government to continue public enlightenment on the agreement, urged stakeholders to educate the public on its true content.

He said: “I wish to state that there is no provision in the Samoa Agreement which requires Nigeria to accept or in any way recognise LGBTQ or gay rights either as a pre-condition for a loan of $150bn or at all.

“Instead, the agreement was expressly made subject to the local laws and the sovereignty of the contracting nations. That is to say, the Samoa Agreement recognises, for instance, Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2023, and of course, the supremacy of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“If this were not the case, the NBA would have since advised the federal government not to enter or engage in any form of partnership or agreement that has the ability to undermine the sovereignty of our nation in any way”, he added.

 

Gender clauses in agreement have broad interpretations – Lawyers

Speaking on the controversy, Yusuf Buhari, Esq said some clauses in the Samoa Agreement, when it comes to gender rights issues, have been found to have broad interpretations.

Among these are equal pay and economic empowerment, reproductive rights and access to healthcare, ending gender-based violence (domestic violence, sexual harassment, assault), combatting discrimination and bias (in employment, education, housing), access to education and equal opportunities, political representation and leadership, body autonomy and choice, challenging gender stereotypes and norms and LGBTQ rights and inclusivity.

Others, the lawyer said, are protection from female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, access to safe and legal abortion, equal rights in marriage and divorce, protection from online gender-based violence and cyberbullying, addressing intersectionality and multiple forms of discrimination.

Similarly, E.M.D. Umukoro, Esq said it was within the powers of the National Assembly to reject such agreements if it sought to put the country in bondage or compromise its sovereignty.

“The men who participated and came out to refuse same based on those contentious articles, I give them kudos and they and the National Assembly should insist in not going ahead with the agreement,” he said.

In his view, Chukwudi Igwe, Esq said there was no cause for alarm in the Samoa Agreement since the National Assembly had the powers to review and ratify and domesticate it before it becomes a law.

 

By Balarabe Alkassim, John C. Azu, Philip S. Clement, Maureen Onochie & Seun Adeuyi

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