Samoa Agreement: Nigeria’s Legal Stance on Same-Sex Marriage By Lawan Bukar Maigana

Comrade Lawan Bukar Maigana

Samoa Agreement: Nigeria’s Legal Stance on Same-Sex Marriage

By Lawan Bukar Maigana

When I first read the news by Daily Trust, I almost call it a fake news and misinformation because I knew the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is aware of the existing law—an act that bans same-sex marriage (LGBT), which was enacted during Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidency in 2013, so he will not agree to enter into any agreement that promotes, protects, and legalizes same-sex marriage.

A few minutes after the publication that went viral in a blink of an eye, I logged in to Facebook, only to see President Tinubu’s media aide, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, talking about the report which he faulted despite the fact that he used to be an employee of the publisher Many people, including his closest friends had accused him of siding with his boss to keep his food green.

However, I didn’t see the issue from the angle many saw it because I knew there was something wrong with the publication; lacking airtight evidence.

The issue was quickly politicized by different members of political domains. People started making a mockery of the Muslim-Muslim presidency, saying gay marriage had been legalized to the detriment of the country and its religious people who see same-sex (LGBT) marriage as animalism.

Discussing the issue in our office, Hajiya Uwani Ladan, the Vice Principal of GCC Girls Academy—a school run by a non-governmental organization called Girl Child Concerns—condemned the Samoa agreement in its entirety and described it as ‘the root of satanism.’ It is not permissible for Nigeria to take the loan knowing full well that the loan comes with ulterior motives, she added.

On the issues around the controversial loan, a columnist, Gimba Kakanda, wrote an explainer:

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“The Nigerian government will not agree to an already invalid law by a well-known statute and Section 3 of the Constitution, which states, ‘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.’

“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 us—Nigeria. The law that bans same-sex marriage still exists, and the practice remains unacceptable and condemnable in Nigeria.