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Samoa Deal: The myth and politics of loan for LGBTQ Rights- Gimba Kakanda

By Gimba Kakanda

At the outset, it’s worth noting that no nation or organization on this planet would provide a loan equivalent to half the size of a borrowing country’s GDP. As of March 31, 2024, Nigeria’s total domestic and external debts stood at $91.46 billion.

Yet, we are being told to believe that we are securing a loan of $150 billion for agreeing to some imaginary terms of legalizing LGBTQ rights—a culture outlawed by a statute, the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, signed into law in 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan. It is, therefore, quite tragic that media organizations that ought to know better are at the forefront of this half-brained alarmism in a rush to advertise why mathematics always records the highest rate of mass failure in our schools.

The claim that the Nigerian government has agreed to legalize LGBTQ rights in exchange for a loan under some compromising conditions of the European Union’s legal framework is not only mischievous but dangerous in a country as susceptible to misinformation as ours. Even the website of the European Union refers to the article on “Sexual orientation and gender identity (LGBTI rights)” as “an issue on which there are also differences among EU Member States,” and that “as a matter of compromise, the parties (to the Samoa agreement) will commit to the implementation of existing international agreements,” which it describes as a “negotiated agreement, Article 36),” and then admits that “the wording however falls short of the EU negotiators’ ambitions.”

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No international agreement binds Nigeria unless it is domesticated by the National Assembly, a legislative process that would not go unnoticed by the public. The so-called Samoa agreement is between the EU member states and more than half of the 79 members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS). It targets 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.

Countries can focus on components of such agreements that align with their laws and values, such as the development aspect. Claims that a country cannot choose one priority area and leave others and that the human rights aspect necessarily includes LGBTQ rights, are incorrect and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the Nigerian legal system.

Even if Nigeria’s President signs an international agreement, it does not apply domestically unless considered, debated, and adopted by the National Assembly. This process, known as domestication, is stipulated in Section 12(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999: “No treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law except to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly.”

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What this means is that international agreements can only become a part of our national law through the specific process of domestication by a statute, and Justice Ogundare of the Supreme Court of Nigeria made this clear in the famous case of Abacha v Fawehinmi. He clarified that an international treaty entered into by the government of Nigeria does not become binding until enacted into law by the National Assembly. Before its enactment into law, it has no such force of law as to make its provisions justiciable before our Courts.

The European Union has no power to impose any law on Nigeria, and neither can the Nigerian government agree to a law automatically rendered invalid by a well-known statute and Section 3 of the Constitution, which states that “If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”

The claim that seeking a loan under the Samoa agreement obligates Nigeria to incorporate European human rights norms is rooted in misinformation, politics, and ignorance of the Nigerian legal system. Section 1 of our Constitution is clear about the supremacy of the Constitution over any law.

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It is one thing for some math-adverse random citizen to believe in the possibility of a $150 billion loan or the myth of a money-for-gay-rights deal, but it is fundamentally disturbing for an organization that thrives on knowledge and information business to report an agreement with other countries as applicable in our legal system, with a sensational spotlight on a non-existent term.

Even if such terms were offered, they could not be accepted for reasons beyond just their incompatibility with the existing laws of the country. The executive who represents Nigeria’s interests in international agreements has the power to ratify a bilateral or multilateral agreement, but they do not have the power to domesticate it—to enforce it. Unfortunately, the dangerous narrative being woven around this loan question is being amplified by certain persons and groups not because they are unaware it is untrue, but because it appeals to their polarizing political agenda.

 

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