Reports falsely claim Nigeria’s approval of ‘Samoa Agreement’ legalizes same-sex relationships


<span>Screenshot showing the false claim, taken on July 8, 2024</span>” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTg3Nw–/″/></p>
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Screenshot showing the false claim, taken on July 8, 2024

The newspaper is Nigeria’s most influential daily in the Muslim-dominated conservative north.

The newspaper reported that Africa’s most populous country had signed a “$150 billion” deal with the EU, with clauses compelling “underdeveloped and developing countries to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community’s agitations for recognition, as a condition for receiving financial and other support from developed societies”.

The treaty is named after the Pacific island of Samoa, where it was proclaimed on November 15, 2023, and is commonly known as the “Samoa Agreement”.

Other Nigerian media such as Business day And Forefront repeated the claims and shared them with millions of followers on social media.

The articles led to fierce criticism of the government, especially in the north of the country.

AFP Fact Check debunked similar claims about the November 2023 agreement with Samoa.

Web of disinformation

Daily Trust based its claim on a opinion piece Written by Lagos-based lawyer Sonnie Ekwowusi, one of the first to announce Nigeria’s approval of the Samoa deal.

“Articles 2.5 and 29.5 legalize LGBT, transgenderism, abortion, teenage sexual abuse and perversion in African countries,” Ekwowusi said.

“Nigeria’s signing of the agreement threatens the sovereignty of Nigeria and Africa. It further undermines our democracy.”

The Daily Trust reported that the government signed the deal in secret despite “global opposition”. The agreement came to light when Minister of Budget and Economic Planning Atiku Bugudu announced it during a meeting hosted by the EU in the capital Abuja on July 1, 2024.

The Daily Trust story caused a stir viral social media claims about the legalization of gay marriage in Nigeria and became a trending topic with keywords such as “Muslim-Muslim” and “Samoa Agreement”.

Posting another screenshot of the article, government critic Mahdi Shehu wrote on X: “May homosexuality, lesbianism and child abuse be a permanent habit in them, may it pass through their children, grandchildren and into the last generation. May they die in the act.”

<span>Screenshot of Shehu’s X-post taken on July 8, 2024</span>” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTk0Nw–/”/><span><knop klasse=

Screenshot of Shehu’s X-post taken on July 8, 2024

Muslim leaders from the north of the country criticized the move (see here And here).

Samoa Agreement

The Samoa Agreement is a partnership between the EU and countries from the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), of which Nigeria is a member.

The 403 page document contains 103 articles and provisions.

According to the European Council, the agreement “will serve as the overarching legal framework for their relationships for the next twenty years” (archived herePriority areas of focus include human rights, democracy and governance, peace and security; human and social development, inclusive, sustainable economic growth and development, environmental sustainability and climate change; and migration and mobility.

It is seen as a blueprint for strengthening bilateral relations and is the successor to Cotonou Agreement signed in June 2000 (archived here).

After seven months of deliberations, the Nigerian government has signed the agreement in Brussels on 28 June 2024, which was joined by 72 other OACPS members (archived here).

LGBTQ+ not legalized

Nigeria 2013 Same-Sex Marriage Prevention Act (SSMPA) bans rights for LGBTQ+ people and criminalizes same-sex marriages and civil partnerships (archived here).

Ekwowusi claimed that Articles 2.5 and 29.5 of the Samoa Agreement prescribe gay rights.

Neither article explicitly mentions same-sex relationships.

While Article 2.5 states that “Parties shall systematically promote a gender perspective and ensure that gender equality is integrated into all policies”, Article 29.5 states that “Parties shall support universal access to sexual and reproductive health products and health-care services, including family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes”.

<span>Screenshot of Article 2.5 of the Samoa Agreement, taken on July 9, 2024</span>” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTE1MQ–/″/><span><knop klasse=

Screenshot of Article 2.5 of the Samoa Agreement, taken on July 9, 2024

<span>Screenshot of Article 29.5 of the Samoa Agreement, taken on July 9, 2024</span>” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTE0OA–/″/><span><knop klasse=

Screenshot of Article 29.5 of the Samoa Agreement, taken on July 9, 2024

Lagos-based human rights lawyer Festus Ogun said he had found no details in the written agreement to support the allegations.

“I have carefully considered the Samoa Agreement and I do not think there is anything in the agreement that directly and specifically gives credibility to LGBTQ. No agreement can be domesticated as law without an Act of Parliament,” he told AFP Fact Check.

“Parliament has not repealed the Same Sex Act and the Nigerian Constitution provides that no treaty can be enforced in court unless it has been passed into law by the National Assembly.”

Tobi Oluwatoba, former director of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), echoed these comments.

“Private morality and public law are separate domains and it is a slippery slope to mix them. There is no reference to LGBTQ in the document,” he told AFP Fact Check.

“We should not look for a reason to discriminate against a minority group when there actually isn’t one.”

The day the Daily Trust article about the deal was published, Information Minister Mohammad Idris said refused that the deal required Nigeria to legalize LGBTQ+ rights (archived here).

He added that the cooperation framework had been signed subject to conditions.

“Nigeria’s approval was accompanied by a declaration, dated 26 June 2024, clarifying the interpretation and context of the agreement within the country’s jurisdiction, to the effect that any provision that is inconsistent with the laws of Nigeria shall be null and void,” he said.

Threat of lawsuit

On July 6, the Daily Trust told readers the government had threatened to sue the newspaper over the story (archived here).

In an editorial published a day later, the newspaper wrote: said it would be “willing to apologize to both the government and the public for crying wolf” if its interpretation of the agreement was wrong (archived here).

Although the original article was still on its website on July 10, the Daily Trust said it had “also acknowledged shortcomings in our reporting on this particular issue, which were pointed out to us by professional colleagues, and that we will investigate this and take appropriate action”.

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