By INNOCENT ANABA
Nigeria’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Umunna Orjiakor, yesterday, insisted that Nigeria does not owe Western countries any apology over her position on same sex marriage and death penalty, as it was within the rights of the country as a sovereign nation to follow what its people want.
It will be recalled that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, had told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, at the on-going 17th Universal Periodic Review of the council that 92 percent of Nigerians were against gay, while death penalty was constitutional in the country.
The minister’s position, drew reactions from the United States of America and United Kingdom as both countries faulted same.
But Dr Orjiakor, who addressed newsmen, said “Nigeria is a sovereign country and unapologetically so. We have a law in a democratic system which was what the Attorney-General had told the International community. We have a law, and that law is a constitutional law and in a democracy, a President or an executive cannot just come and make a decree and abolish a law. So you have to persuade the National Assembly, you have to negotiate with the people and what becomes law should be the overwhelming wish of the people of the country that you are talking about and in the case of Nigeria, the death penalty is still part and parcel of our laws.
“Yes, we declared a moratorium on the death penalty some years back, but a moratorium does not mean abolition. They are two different things, more so, in Nigeria, we have a Federal system of government, so states have the right to implement what the Constitution allows that is within their purview, like what happened in Edo State, so we don’t have any apology for any one, we are simply explaining that Nigeria is an evolving democracy and over time, maybe all the states will understand that death penalty is no more fashionable or the best way to punish crime, so it is work in progress.
“On Nigeria’s UPR, every country who is a member of the United Nations comes every four years for it and this is Nigeria’s second outing and I can say that the Attorney-General did Nigerians proud, all the issues ranging from what our military is doing in the Joint Military Taskforce, Child Protection Rights were all covered. All human rights issues that concern the country were dealt with. Nigeria came out defending its positions very clearly and very persuasively.”