Top Stories

July 11, 2024

SAMOA Agreement: Threat to Nigeria’s sovereignty – Catholic Bishops

Catholic priests

By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI

Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has described the recent Samoa Agreement as “a threat to the sovereignty and values of Nigeria”.

This was part of a 25-point communique, issued yesterday, after their meeting and signed by the President and Secretary, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji and Most Rev. Donatus A. Ogun, respectively

The Bishops said: “The Agreement looks innocuous and attractive on the surface but underneath it is carefully blended with post-modern secularistic ideologies that significantly undermine the moral, cultural, and religious beliefs of Nigerian citizens.

“We are concerned that our civil authorities may not be fully aware of the implications of the nuanced language in the document, which threatens our national sovereignty and values.

“We, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, as watchmen and guides, deeply committed to the sound moral, religious, and cultural growth of our dear country, hereby clearly highlight what the Samoa Document portends for the future of Nigeria and Nigerians and call on our government to, as a matter of urgency, propose an amendment of the Agreement or withdraw from it.”

Taking a hard look at the legal effect of the document, CBCN said: “In international law, when the state signs a Treaty, it indicates its intention to be bound by it in the future, and it demonstrates its support for the principles and goals of the Treaty and its willingness to consider ratifying it in the future.

“Given the secrecy surrounding Nigeria’s signing of the Samoa Agreement, it is unclear whether the signature was tendered subject to Ratification, Acceptance, or Approval.

“The Samoa Agreement essentially gives international law status to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Comprehensive Sexuality Education, and Abortion through its prolific reference to Gender approaches and the phrase Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

“The Treaty does not have a glossary of terms or a definitions section to ensure that all parties have the same understanding of terms, which may pose a problem in its implementation and evaluation phases.

“Ordinarily, signing a Treaty creates an obligation to refrain, in good faith, from acts that would undermine its object and purpose (Arts 10 &18, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969). Signing a Treaty serves as an intention to be bound by it when it is enforced.

“Under article 98.3 of the Samoa Agreement, Nigeria, by signing it, bound itself to recognize the validity of any measure taken to implement the Agreement after the date of its entry into force.
“Its signing makes Nigeria surrender its position as a persistent objector to the impugned language during negotiations in several international fora. Most of Africa has always counted on the leadership of Nigeria to contest anti-life, anti-family, anti-culture and anti-African values at the United Nations.

“The decision not to sign the Samoa Agreement in November 2023, was consistent with Nigeria’s persistent objection to those issues. Its signing has weakened the persistency and consistency of the objection that Nigeria has always had.

“The Samoa Agreement has 61 references to gender equality, gender perspectives and gender mainstreaming. The most outstanding is Article 2.5: The parties shall systematically promote a gender perspective and ensure that gender equality is mainstreamed across all policies.
“The term gender is no longer an innocent term. There are over 110 genders that would claim a stake in the term gender equality.”

Addressing the Joint Positions and Actions with the European Union, in international fora, CBCN said: “Several provisions in the Samoa Agreement commit Nigeria to take joint positions with the European Union in international affairs.

“The challenge is that Nigeria has led several African nations in protecting African Values, culture, interests and sovereignty. Provisions that mandate joint positions will make it difficult for Nigerian diplomats and negotiators to distinguish themselves in thought and representation.”
On the way forward, the Catholic Bishops said: “Given that Nigeria has signed the Samoa Document, we call on the government to propose an insertion of a substantive article in the general Agreement and the African Regional Protocol that nothing in this binding Agreement can be interpreted to include any obligations regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, comprehensive sexuality education, abortion, contraception, legalisation of prostitution, same-sex marriage, or sexual rights for children.

“If Nigeria takes the lead in calling for Amendments to the Samoa Agreement and its protocols, other states in the African Caribbean and Pacific regions may more likely follow suit. If accepted, this Amendment will go a long way in preventing SRHR from becoming international through an economic partnership agreement.

“Nigeria should withdraw from the Samoa agreement if the EU rejects the proposed Amendment. A precedent has already been set by South Africa, which withdrew from the Cotonou Agreement in 2023.”