Claim: A verified user of X (formerly Twitter) shared a post suggesting that the Nigerian government has agreed to sign the EU-ACP agreement, which purportedly aims to legitimize LGBTQ rights in the country.
Verdict: Claims of endorsement of the Samoa Agreement by the Nigerian government are unfounded and misleading. Although the agreement has been put forward, it is still in the process of being studied.
LGBTQ is an umbrella term for the rainbow community, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. More commonly, the term is used to refer to groups of people, despite their sexual orientation, who support the community’s activism for freedom and recognition.
In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to broaden its marital laws to include same-sex couples. In the years since that adoption, same-sex marriage and laws protecting the community have been established in 34 other countries, including most of the Americas and Western Europe.
The Goodluck Jonathan Administration signed Nigeria’s prohibition bill against same- sex marriage on January 7, 2014. The law, which criminalizes the public display of affection between same-sex couples and restricts the work of organizations defending LGBTQ rights, stipulates a prison term of 14 years for offenders.
Notwithstanding the country’s long-standing opposition to same-sex marriage, a number of comments followed the X post.
Arungwa Stanley, for instance, said: “These people don’t rate us at all, it’s what they gain in return. They are after their empty heads like cheese balls.”
Ikechukwu Ude said, “I never saw this coming.”
Traditional Edo pikin also said, “Lol, those Imams and owners of Islam are most involved.”
At the time of filing this report, Prime Progress found that the post had gleaned 43,000 views, in addition to 421 reposts and 820 likes.
In the same vein, another post on X claimed that the country was on the verge of signing the agreement. See here.
Because of the delicate nature of such claims and their traction, we launched a check to verify the truth of the information.
After a deep Google search, Prime Progress discovered that the agreement referred to in the claims is a “partnership agreement” between the European Union and members of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS). Nigeria is a member of the OACPS
Also known as the Samoa Agreement, the partnership consolidates on the Cotonou Agreement signed in June 2000. It covers subjects ranging from sustainable development and growth to peace and human rights. The partnership agreement is seen as the blueprint for strengthening bilateral relations.
In response to the widespread information, the Nigerian government publicly stated that it had not yet signed the agreement.
“Relevant Nigerian stakeholders are currently studying the instrument with a view to ensuring that its provisions do not contravene Nigeria’s domestic legislation,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Francisca Omayuli, on November 16, 2023.
The agreement doesn’t specifically mention same-sex relationships. However, Article 9 of the document stipulates that participating countries must commit to promoting universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without any form of discrimination. This includes discrimination based on sex, ethnicity, social origin, religion, belief, political opinion, disability, age, or other status.
However, Nigeria’s treaties with other countries often lack any force unless they have been enacted into law by the National Assembly, according to Section 12(1) of the Nigerian Constitution.
At least 19 African countries, together with nine Caribbean states and six Pacific countries, have not signed the agreement too.
More detail about the Agreement
The ACP-EU partnership stands as one of the oldest frameworks, initiated by the signing of the Cotonou Agreement in 2000. It brings together the African, Caribbean, and Pacific group of states under its umbrella.
Negotiations following the Cotonou Agreement began in 2018, under the leadership of Commissioner Neven Mimica, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The chief negotiators initialed the new agreement in April 2021.
In July 2023, the council adopted a decision regarding the signature and provisional application of the Agreement. On November 15, 2023, a new agreement was officially signed by the member states of the EU and the OACPS.
The Samoa Agreement, now known as the Post-Cotonou Agreement, is an ambitious deal between the EU and countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. The agreement focuses on some of the world’s problems and priorities, aiming to make the partnership more effective.
Although authorities have stated that they are still studying the agreement, Nigeria did not sign it, despite being a member of the OACPS. Neither has it changed its stance against same-sex marriage.