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Fact-Check: No evidence Nigeria legalised LGBTQ rights via the Samoa deal 

Saheed Ibrahim

Claim: President Bola Tinubu has legalised LGBTQ rights in Nigeria via the Samoa deal and the country will get $150 billion for the deal.

On January 7, 2014, then-President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law a bill that criminalises same-sex marriage in Nigeria. The law, Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, of 2013, stipulates a 14-year jail term as a penalty for anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union.  

The law has since been criticised for restricting freedom of assembly and denying the fundamental human rights of members of the LGBTQ community in Nigeria. 

The federal government on June 28 signed the Samoa deal. According to the European Union, the Samoa agreement is a legal framework of  EU relations with 79 countries, including 48 African, 16 Caribbean and 15 Pacific countries. 

The EU said, “The agreement aims to strengthen the capacity of the EU and the ACP countries to address global challenges together.

“It lays down common principles and covers the following 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.”

The EU added that the new agreement was signed on 15 November 2023 in Samoa to replace the Cotonou agreement of the year 2000. 

A report by Daily Trust on July 3, 2024, raised concerns regarding the Samoa deal. The report, which was based on an opinion article by a lawyer, Sonnie Ekwowusi, claimed that the Samoa deal mandates Nigeria to legalise the Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) rights in the agreement, as signed by the Nigerian government on June 28.

Ekwowusi, who is the Chairman of the Human and Constitutional Rights Committee, African Bar Association (AfBA), claimed that “Certain Articles of the Agreement, especially Articles 2.5 and 29.5 legalise LGBT, transgenderism, abortion, teen sexual abuse, and perversity in African countries.”  

The report by Daily Trust has since led to agitations from several quarters, informing posts on the internet that President Tinubu has legalised LGBTQ rights in Nigeria as part of the demands of the deal. The claims also state that Nigeria will receive $150 billion as part of the agreement.

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As X user, Ogbuagu said the message in many mosques in Northern Nigeria is that “Bola Ahmed Tinubu has signed an agreement to legalise Gay rights in Nigeria via the Samoa deal. This may have been exaggerated but I don’t see how they will be able to wiggle out of this #2027”. 

Another X account, @tdailycourierng, claimed that “Controversy as Nigeria Allegedly Signs $150 Billion Samoa Deal with Clause to Promote LGBTQ”. 

One of the popular posts was from an X account – Darey @kunmydrey. He posted “I would love to sponsor a LGBTQ flag to be flown over National Mosque, Abuja, Nigeria.
“Let us celebrate the New deal that was signed by the Muslim-Muslim ticket.

“Our Muslim brothers did well by bringing LGBTQ to Nigeria.

Love Wins”.

The post as of July 6 had 431.8k views, 352 comments, 1,7k retweets, 5.5k likes and 165 bookmarks.

Similar claims can also be found here, here and here… Ever since, hashtag #TinubuMustGo has been trending on X and has reached 18.9k posts. 

The claim can also be found on Facebook.

We set out to verify these claims.  

Verification 

Using a keyword search on Google, we found that on July 4, the federal government, through the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, denied that any condition of the Samoa agreement contains legalising LGBTQ rights.

Bagudu said the agreement would be made public for Nigerians to see since it’s a public document. 

We also found a November 16, 2023 press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Nigeria had not signed the Samoa deal when it was signed on November 15, 2023.

The November 16 statement from the FG. Source: Presidency Nigeria X handle 

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The statements noted that Nigeria was still studying the provisions of the agreement before signing and that the country was not represented during the signing. 

The Presidency, through its X handle, stated that: “Nigeria has not signed the ‘Samoa Agreement’. Relevant Nigerian stakeholders are studying the instrument with a view to ensuring that its provisions do not contravene Nigeria’s domestic legislation.”

In a statement last Thursday, the Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris said the government of Nigeria signed the Samoa deal on June 28 after an extensive review of the provisions and the signing was in the interest of the country. 

Idris clarified that none of the 103 articles of the agreement signed contravenes the 1999 constitution as amended, the laws of Nigeria, or other extant laws.

The Ministers stressed that the federal government would not compromise on the existing LGBTQ law in the country as a result of the deal. 

On July 6, the federal government said it would file a lawsuit against Daily Trust newspaper for its publication on the Samoa deal, which led to an uproar in the country. 

We retrieved the 12-page summary of the agreement, as provided by the EU. We found no clause stating that Nigeria must legalise LGBTQ rights as part of the deal. The EU confirmed that the signing of the agreement in 2023, 30 countries, mostly African Caribbean nations did not sign the agreement.

The EU on page 5 of the document states that “Some leaders explained they wanted to check whether the agreement would be compatible with their legal order, notably as regards same-sex relations and sexual health and rights. This move surprised several commentators, as the wording on these topics does not go beyond existing international agreements.”

On page 8, under Priority Area – Human rights, democracy and governance – the EU confirmed that some African, Caribbean and European nations did not agree to legalising LGBTQ rights.

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“While the parties will commit ‘to promote, protect and fulfil all human rights be they civil, political, economic, social or cultural’, some ACP states were reluctant to see the foundation agreement mention sexual orientation and gender identity (LGBTI rights) – an issue on which there are also differences among EU Member States.”

Screenshot of the European Union document

This confirms that the initial draft contained respect for the rights of the LGBTQ community but was resisted by some countries.

The document, therefore, noted that parties to the agreement had to reach a compromise on the issue.

“As a matter of compromise, the parties will commit to the implementation of existing international agreements – notably the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action on sexual and reproductive health and rights, the Beijing Platform on gender equality and their follow-up (negotiated agreement, Article 36).”

The EU, however, expressed that “the wording however falls short of the EU negotiators’ ambitions.”

With this, we can infer that the LGBTQ rights clause in the initial draft of the agreement forced some countries not to sign and this led to reaching a compromise to commit to existing laws on human rights.

On the $150 billion claim, the Nigerian government denied the country would receive such money as part of the agreement. 

We could not find any mention of the money in any section of the document obtained.

BBC report also confirmed that no clause on $150 billion was found in the document. The news agency stated that the European Union Secretary never responded to its request on the controversies.

Conclusion

There is no concrete evidence the Nigerian government legalised LGBTQ rights via the Samoa deal. There is also no evidence to back the claim that Nigeria will get $150 billion for signing the agreement.

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