• Samoa agreement: Request amendment or withdraw signature, Catholic Bishops tell FG

    Samoa agreement request amendment or withdraw signature catholic bishops tell fg - nigeria newspapers online
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    The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has urged the Federal Government to immediately propose amendments to the Samoa Agreement or withdraw from it, if such amendments were not accepted.

    This is contained in a statement titled ‘Threats to the sovereignty and values of Nigeria in the Samoa Agreement’ on Thursday and jointly signed by President of CBCN and Archbishop of Owerri, Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji; and Secretary of CBCN and Bishop of Uromi, Donatus A. Ogun respectively.

    The Catholic bishops said that they were concerned that Nigeria’s civil authorities may not be fully aware of the implications of the nuanced language in the document, which threaten the nation’s 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,” the CBCN statement shared with Daily Trust through the National Director of Social Communications of Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Rev. Fr. Michael Nsikak Umoh.

    The bishops said though the agreement looks innocuous and attractive on the surface, 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 threaten our national sovereignty and values,” the bishops said.

    The CBCN said the Samoa Agreement is the third edition of the Lomé Convention of 1975, as the first edition was originally a trade and aid agreement between the European Economic Community (EEC) as it was then (with former colonial masters) and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states (former colonies).

    They said the second edition was called the Cotonou Agreement, as a treaty signed by the European Union (EU) and the ACP states in 2000.

    They said, “The Samoa Agreement replaced the Cotonou Agreement and was signed off by 44 ACP states out of 79 member countries on 15 November 2023 in Apia, Samoa. Nigeria did not sign it due to concerns with the language relating to sovereignty and African values. It is, however, the case that on 28 June 2024, just days away from the Nigeria-EU business summit held in Abuja on 2 July 2024, Nigeria signed it.”

    Speaking on the legal effect of the signing, the CBCN said the state parties makes it final, before it will then defer to the domestic processes of each country.

    They 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. 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 recognise 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 (UN).”

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

    The CBCN said, “The African Bar Association, with headquarters in Nigeria, warned ACP countries to be cautious about the Samoa Agreement. (AfBA communiqués Niamey 2021, Lilongwe 2022, Pretoria, 2023).
    “By signing the Agreement, therefore, Nigeria has committed to complying with the impugned and contentious provisions of the Samoa Agreement. Nigeria cannot roll back on contentious provisions without breaching the Agreement.”

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