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SAMOA Agreement: FG denies alleged LGBTQ deal, threatens sanction

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The Federal Government, yesterday, frowned at what it called irresponsible claims on national security and the SAMOA Agreement it signed with the European Union (EU), vowing to seek redress in a court of law against any media organisation believed to be publishing misleading stories.

It specifically lamented that a media report on the recent signing of the EU pact, which claimed was done to promote Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ), was non-factual, describing it as sensational.

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, who said this at the National Press Centre, Abuja, singled out a national newspaper for promoting such claims.

His words: “The Federal Government under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has maintained an open arm relationship with the media. It is in line with the philosophy of the President as an avowed democrat who spent a lifetime fighting for the entrenchment of democracy and human rights.

“This administration has remained tolerant of media criticisms and guaranteed citizens’ rights to freedom of expression. It is disheartening that some elements are abusing this free environment guaranteed by government. We are alarmed by the level of reckless reporting and statements by some media organisations and individuals that border on national security and stability.

“While we sometimes view and treat those occasional reporting as part of the media’s normal work, we have now seen a pattern that is difficult to be wished away as normal journalism.

“The insidious and inciting publications these past months have come across as nothing but a deliberate effort to brush the government with a tar. On many occasions, we have restrained ourselves from believing this was the case but the consistency of the jejune and mischievous publications leaves us with no option.

‘’In the aftermath of the coup in Niger Republic, the same newspaper gave a banner headline to a baseless accusation that the government was working on citing foreign military bases in the country.

“In all those instances all that the paper depended on were falsehood and hearsay. They also showed no remorse or the humility to recant.

“We, however, did not envisage that people behind it could descend to the reckless level of attempting to set the country on fire by falsely accusing the government of signing a deal to promote LGBTQ. We found that despicable and wicked because the allegation is nowhere in the document signed. Surprisingly, the paper put forward no evidence nor provided the agreement allegedly signed to prove their point.

‘’The baseless and sensational story unfortunately formed a basis for khutba (sermons) by some of our respected imams who were misled by the story thereby raising tempers.

‘’On the part of the government, we continue on the honourable path of civility by restraining ourselves from taking self-help or draconian measures. While past governments clamped down on the media for infractions much lower than this, we are toeing the path of civility and the rule of law.

“This afternoon, I have the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning to provide more clarity on this issue.

‘’Beyond this, the Federal Government is lodging a formal complaint to the NPAN ombudsman on this irresponsible reporting.

‘’In addition, the Federal Government will use every lawful means to seek redress in the court of law.

‘’The Federal Government once again restates its friendly policy towards ethical media and free speech. We would however not take fake news and disinformation that would injure the peace of our country and its national security lightly’’.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, clarified what the SAMOA Agreement stands for.

It said: “The Samoa Agreement is a vital legal framework for cooperation between the OACPS and the European Union, with the aim of promoting sustainable development, fighting climate change and its effects, generating investment opportunities and fostering collaboration among OACPS member states on the international stage.

The EU and all its 27 Member states signed the Samoa Agreement on 15th November 2023. Out of the 79 members of the OACPS, 74 signed before the deadline of 30th June 2024. The OACPS members that are yet to sign are Equatorial Guinea (Africa) Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean) and Nauru and Tuvalu (Pacific)’’.

“The partnership between Nigeria and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) dates back to the Georgetown Agreement of 1975, which brought together countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific for the establishment of a framework for trade and development cooperation with the European Union (EU) as one of its objectives.

“The OACPS – EU Cotonou Agreement facilitated the commitment of about €1.7bn in grant aid alone to Nigeria through the 9th, 10th and 11th European Development Fund (EDF) during the period from 2000–2020.

“A recent survey shows that over 5000 water, sanitation, energy, education, health and other micro project interventions were executed in about 4,800 communities in Nigeria over the course of the Agreement”.

‘’The Samoa Agreement is a veritable instrument for Nigeria’s development cooperation with the EU beyond aid. The OACPS – EU Partnership is one of the most diverse and multifaceted development pacts in the international system. It is therefore pertinent for the Public to consult the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for clarity on the far-reaching issues relating to multi-sectoral provisions of the agreement”.

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