Tinubu’s Ministers Serving Self-Interest – Lawyer Inebehe

Legal Practitioner, Inebehe Effiong while speaking on the Samoa agreement with Geofrey Uzono on Channels TV recently. DEBORAH ODEKOLA brings excerpts.

Should we take the explanation of the Federal Government or what is your take on this particular issue?
For me, I think the starting point is to say that by section 12 of our constitution, the 1999 constitution as amended, no treaty between Nigeria or the federation and any other country shall have the force of law except to the extent to which such treaty has been enacted into law by an act of the national assembly. In other words, while it is an international principle or principle of international law called pacta sancta savanna that parties are bound by international agreements and Nigeria has, maybe in some sense, an assumed responsible member of the international community is expected to comply with treaties, international conventions and agreements and so on, to the extent that those agreements have purposive effect or are tended to have coercive effect on Nigeria, in other words, that those agreements are expected to be enforceable, they must be enacted into law by a national assembly. Now, regarding the Samoa agreement, the Federal Government has come out to say in a rather dismissive tone that, this has nothing to do with LGBTQ. I beg to differ to an extent. If you look at Article 15 of the Samoa agreement, there is a very interesting language there. It prohibits discrimination of violence based on gender, based on political orientation, based on sex, but interestingly, it also says sexual orientation. And what is sexual orientation? Sexual orientation includes and envisages LGBTQ. So I don’t think the Federal Government, I think it amounts to intellectual duplicity with profound respect to say that the Samoa agreement does not have anything to do with LGBTQ. The argument that should be had is whether having signed this agreement, having become a state party to this agreement, can it supersede, can override, can take precedence over the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. My understanding of the law is that the answer is unanimously negative, namely that because an act of the national assembly has prohibited same-sex marriages and same-sex relationships in certain ways, international conventions, and international agreements cannot defeat that law. Now, for the federal government to even make it enforceable, right, I need to make this point clear, you can’t enforce a law, or penal legislation, either through prosecution or by just being unwilling. That is, what the Tinubu administration can do is they cannot just decide, for example, tell the police, we don’t want you to arrest members of the LGBT community. That will be consistent with the Samoa agreement. I heard the guests in Abuja say that they needed to go to the national assembly to amend the act. Every person who understands how governance works knows that matters of law enforcement are executive responsibilities. So if the president, for example, has a conversation with the Instructor-General of Police and says, look, given the Samoa agreement, and the benefits Nigeria and this government stands to gain, I do not want to see LGBT community people being arrested, that would be promotive of that agreement. But I must say, to the extent that we have a subsisting law known as the same-sex marriage prohibition act, the Samoa agreement does not grant any immunity to members of the LGBTQ.
But the conversation that we must further have because I have seen this thing in Africa, where African leaders seem to make the LGBT argument more or less about politics and so on. So I just needed to make the point, that based on law, the Samoa agreement cannot take precedence over the Nigerian constitution.

What is your take on the situation of the economy?

I think it would be delusional with profound respect to expect that Alhaji Aliko Dangote and others will change the Nigerian economy. These individuals who have made money for themselves, are lifetime economic advisors to every government in power. It is just window dressing. Dangote is not going to solve our problem. He is a man who is driven by profit. He is not going to devise policies that promote the Nigerian economy against his interest. Let us be serious. This president does not understand the reality of the urgency of now. You cannot be speaking about changing the economy and you are still dissipating public funds on things that do not matter. This is a president that we were told had expertise in gathering technocrats. Where are the Tinubu’s technocrats? They are nowhere to be found.

What about all the people around him? Wale Edun, Cardoso, and others?

They are busy with things that matter to them, but not the interests of the Nigerian people because we have not seen the policies. We have not seen the actions. What we see is the sustenance of the culture of waste. In a country where inflation is abominable, the electricity tariff has now been increased again, the price of fuel is going up, cost of basic commodities has escalated. The government is not addressing that. They are wasting money, building edifices for the vice president, wasting money on the convoy of the President, and trying to buy a new aircraft for the President in an economy that has almost collapsed. These people are not serious and they should admit it. They are taking Nigeria for granted and time is running out. Look at what is happening in Kenya. Why are they so insensitive? They are not reading the handwriting on the wall that the Nigerian people are being pushed too far. You have today, the Kenyan president speaking on X, addressing over 120,000 people. I listened to it directly. In one year, Tinubu has not spoken to Nigerians. So how can he understand what we are going through? It is impossible.

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