Copy of NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (5)

Statement of the NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, OON, SAN, on the SAMOA Agreement.

Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, OON, SAN President, Nigerian Bar Association (2022-2024)

Before signing the SAMOA agreement, the Hon. Minister of Budget and Economic Planning requested the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), a major stakeholder in the polity, to examine it.

Consequently, I constituted a committee chaired by Mr. Olawale Fapohunda, SAN, former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ekiti State, and Chairman of the NBA Law Reform Committee, to vet, evaluate, and advise on the agreement accordingly.

The SAMOA Agreement (named after the central South Pacific Ocean country of Samoa, where the agreement was signed) is a broad legal framework between the European Union (EU) member states and more than half of the 79 members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS).

It is meant to serve as a basis upon which subsequent specific agreements can be negotiated between the European Union and the Federal Government, its sub-nationals, and/or the private sector.

The agreement covers six (6) main areas, namely: democracy and human rights, sustainable economic growth and development, climate change, human and social development, peace and security, and migration and mobility.

My attention was drawn to publications in newspapers and social media platforms, reactions by some Nigerians to the signing of the SAMOA Agreement by the Federal Government, and the alleged clauses in the agreement requiring Nigeria to endorse or accept LGBTQ rights as a precondition to access an alleged loan facility to the tune of $150, 000, 000, 000.00 (one hundred and fifty billion USD).

Contrary to the narrative propagated either due to ignorance of the agreement’s content or a deliberate intention to mislead the public (neither of which is good), I wish to state that there is no provision in the SAMOA agreement that requires Nigeria to accept or recognise LGBTQ or gay rights, either as a precondition for a loan of $150 billion or at all. Instead, the agreement was expressly made subject to the local laws and the sovereignty of the contracting nations.

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 into or engage in any form of partnership or agreement that could undermine our nation’s sovereignty. To avoid doubt, the SAMOA agreement does not seek to compromise our existing legislation or undermine Nigeria’s independence.

It is important for all stakeholders who have had the opportunity to engage with the government on this agreement before its execution and others who have read and understood the agreement’s objective to endeavour to educate the public on its factual content.

The negative narratives of this agreement are being pushed and propagated along susceptible lines of our faith, culture, and morality, thus creating the need for caution and proper education.

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Akorede Habeeb Lawal

Publicity Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association (2022-2024)

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