Re: Why Nigerians still support Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act

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Note: This is a rejoinder to an article written by Olumide Makanjuola in the Guardian. 

By J.B Nwachukwu

I wish to commend Olumide Makanjuola for his boldness in writing on issues relating to Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual citizens (LGB), these issues though known aren’t issues that are publicly discussed by many because of its controversial and sentimental nature.  Although I am surprised that, despite his advocacy for equal rights, he isn’t advocating for the rights of the Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual citizens (TQIA). Don’t they need “equal rights” as well? Maybe equality is not so widespread, after all.

The said article which was published on the 17th of May raised many interesting issues, which if not addressed can mislead and impair reader’s judgment on the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act (SSMPA) and LGBTQIA issues.

Olumide seems to be surprised that despite the passage of the SSMPA, Nigerians are still respectful of the rights of the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual citizens (LGB).

He said “Three years on from the passage of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law, it continues to enjoy a high level of public support, despite other indications that more Nigerians are respectful of the rights of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual citizens”.

His surprise seems to be due, either to a total misunderstanding of the Act or a deliberate attempt to misconstrue what the Act provides for. This has to be true because further down in the article, Olumide argues that “by using the words “Same Sex marriage” what lawmakers did was to play on Nigerians fear for cultural change, with a controversial title, when really the law goes beyond banning same—sex marriage” he continues “one needs to go beyond the sensational title and talk about the content of the law that violates fundamental rights guaranteed in the Nigerian constitution. For example, clause 4.2 of the Act talks about public shows of amorous affection between people of the same sex. This is one of the sections aimed at criminalising freedom of association based on perceived identity, as well as criminalising people because of their association or knowledge of someone being lesbian, gay or bisexual”. He further argued that “Many Nigerian’s do not realize that with the way the Act is set up, the dangers of the law can affect anyone – even if they are not an LGB person. The definition of “same sex amorous affection” in section 4.2 of the law is so broad that it can apply to two male friends hugging or female friends hugging or female friends sharing a bed; in short any form of public affection between people of the same gender is criminalised”

I have painstakingly gone through the Act and nowhere does it provide for the things that Olumide is complaining of. This Act in question is so short-that if there was an award for the shortest Act in the history of Nigerian Legislation, this Act would most probably win it – that it should be subject to confusion.

The Act has eight (8) sections, Section 1-3 defines marriage to be a union between a man and woman and provides that any marriage between persons of the same sex either contracted in Nigeria or abroad is invalid in Nigeria. Luckily Olumide has no issues with this ones.

The section 4 which Olumide seems to have problems with, provides that the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, processions and meetings is prohibited. In sub section(2) it provides that the public show of same- sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly is prohibited.

Contrary to what Olumide posited, Section 4.2 doesn’t define “same-sex amorous affection”. That section merely prohibits public show of same sex amorous relationship. The Act did not provide for “affection” but “relationship”, these words mean two different things and I wonder what end Olumide seeks to achieve by changing them.  The definition (which I must point out is personal to him) Olumide seeks to ascribe to the section with all due respect is absurd, and it’s geared at erroneously arousing people sentiments. It is important not to forget the qualifying word “amorous”. Amorous is a word that is not subject to misunderstanding. Assuming without conceding that Olumide doesn’t know what amorous means, I will take the pain to provide a definition. Oxford English Dictionary defines it to mean “showing, feeling or relating to sexual desire (emphasis on sexual).  So for Olumide to say that, that provision can affect anyone even if they are not an LGB person is far from the truth. Or do members of the same family have amorous relationships? Can a father give either his son or daughter an amorous hug? Or do brothers give themselves amorous hugs?

Also, contrary to what Olumide said, nowhere does the Act criminalise people for knowing someone who is lesbian, gay or bisexual. Section 5(3) of the Act penalises those that witness, aid or abets the solemnisation of same sex marriage and those that support the sustenance of gay clubs and meetings and not those that know people that are LDB.

Secondly, the Act doesn’t infringe on anyone’s freedom of Association nor does it prevent people of the same sex from staying, meeting or leaving together, if it did, then same sex hostels, schools etc, would have been banned by now. What it prevents is the registration and meetings of gay clubs, societies etc. The Act doesn’t even criminalise Homosexuality, Homosexuality is clearly criminalised under chapter 21 of the Criminal Code. Moreover, it is imperative to point out that the right to association is not even absolute, Section 45 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) clearly provides that such right can be derogated from, in the interest of public morality and public health.

Continuing, Olumide argues that because of the SSMPA, the police, other state and non- state actors have been empowered to think violence, hate and prejudice towards LBG persons. According to him, his organisation has documented evidence to prove that since the Act was passed there has been an increase in the human rights violations against LGB persons. Without demanding for the evidence, I concede that there are violations against LBG persons just as there are violations against many others and I condemn such violations vehemently. But I must quickly point out that those that violate LGB persons do so out of culpable ignorance and if found (indeed they must be found) they should be condemned and prosecuted accordingly. Such persons think that LGB persons are inherently bad or possessed by some evil spirt. I don’t subscribe to such. I believe that LGB persons just like any human being, can be intelligent, hard-working, virtuous, responsible etc. The only contention issue is their sexual orientation. Is it a new way of life or an abnormality / illness? Till date there has been no conclusive evidence to prove that homosexual persons are born that way, indeed it is widely held to be a nurture rather than a nature development. So why do we need to legitimise an act that is not natural or scientific?   Indeed the mere fact that one has the same-sex attraction (SSA) doesn’t mean, one must exhibit it, just the saw way that the mere fact an heterosexual man has attraction to multiple women doesn’t mean he has a right to exhibit it. Indeed, attractions need not dictate our relationships.

As regards the violations by the law enforcement agencies, it is wrong to blame such violations on the SSMPA, as we have examined above, nowhere does the Act empower anyone to violate anyone right including those of LGB. I think that if Olumide is sincere, he will agree that our law enforcement agencies are fraught with lots of irregularities. We’ve heard of numerous instances where for example, policemen enter a bar and accuse those drinking of a crime, all in the name to extort from them, it’s the same policemen that will castigate a woman when she goes to report her husband for battery. Will you blame the law for these infractions? A friend of mine, an adult, who decided to stay on his own had his house raided by his father. When he reported to the police, the police condemned him for being stubborn and obedient. Which law will you blame? It’s the law enforcement agencies and not the law. Indeed LGB persons rights are protected by the laws of Nigeria, there need not be an enactment or repeal of any law. Under the law of Tort and fundamental Human Right, they have lots of remedies available to them.

Based on a survey conducted by his organisation, Olumide further argues that Nigerians agree that LGB citizens deserve equal access to public health, housing and education.  This is very important, I agree with Olumide that LGB need access to public health, they already have access, but I am ready to campaign that they even need a higher access to public health than many of us because of the extreme health risks associated with Men who have sex with Men (MSM). The most recent report by the Centres for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) in the US, provides that more than 9 in 10 new HIV cases among young men and boys ages 13 to 24 in the U.S occur among homosexuals and bisexuals and the LGBT population has the highest number of people living with this virus when compared to other population. They are also at an increased risk of other STDs like syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia. This very clearly proscribes the LGBT lifestyle as an unhealthy one.

Olumide made me laugh when he stated authoritatively that the Nigerian LGB community isn’t clamouring for same sex marriage, really. No country in the world where Gay marriage has been legalised, started advocating for gay marriage from day one. They started by asking for the repeal of sodomy law, to provision of civil partnership, etc. before they got the icing of the cake which is Gay Marriage.

I do agree with Olumide that Nigerians lack understanding on the subject of sexuality and human rights, I wish they knew, because if they knew, not only would they wake up from their somnolence, they will also resist any attempt to apathy and indifference and ensure that the LGBTQIA dictatorship in western countries doesn’t it repeat itself here.

 

 

 

 

Nwachukwu is a Legal Practitioner and a writer.  nwachukwujo@gmail.com

WANTED: A NEW HEALTH MINISTER

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By  Sonnie Ekwowusi

Clearly the current Health Minister Prof Isaac Adewole is not the Health Minister that Nigeria needs at the moment to tackle her serious primary healthcare delivery challenges. Apart from telling Nigerian women that they have a “right” to commit abortion, Prof. Adewole has not demonstrated that he can positively transform Nigeria’s healthcare sector.

Shortly after his inauguration as Nigeria’s Health Minister the first health gift which Prof Adewole offered to Nigerian women was what he dubbed “expanded access to comprehensive abortion care”. As if that was not scandalous enough, Prof Adewole was on Channels TV just last week to market his population control gift. He wants Nigerian families to stop having children. He wants married Nigerian women to be on pregnancy- terminating pills in order to avoid having children.  Prof Adewole is obviously under the influence and sponsorship of the United Nations Populations Funds (UNFPA) and The Guttmacher Institute, two agencies which are notorious in Africa for pressuring African governments to reduce human capital through abortion and contraceptive. Whereas Prof. Adewole has not articulated any serious primary healthcare program that would benefit the Nigerian poor who still lack access to the much-vaunted primary health care system he more inclined in venturing into irrelevant complex demographic issues.

In other words, Prof Adewole has abandoned medicine and the real health needs of the Nigerian people and now meddling with demographic issues. What a paradox ! Is President Buhari not aware that attempts to implement population control policy by successive Nigerian governments have consistently failed. For example, when Goodluck Jonathan was in power he entrusted the then chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC) Festus Odimegwu and twenty-two others with the task of controlling the Nigerian population through birth-control and all that. Chief Odimegwu said something at that time that shocked many people: he said that the NPC did not know the population of Nigeria, and that the various population figures declared in the past by the NPC and government-owed agencies had been based on distorted and fictitious figures presented by the World Bank, United Nations and other international bodies. According to Chief Festus Odimegwu,  “we do not really know our population; that is the truth of the matter. We do our work but politicians interfere and at the end, you do not really know what population or census figures are…”, Answering question from the Punch Newspaper during a courtesy visit to the NPC by a delegation of the UNFPA, Odimegwu said,  “…the population of China is over 2 billion, India is 1.2 billion. Nigeria ranks about the 10th in the world population. If other countries are surviving, I don’t think we will kill ourselves…The important thing is having the resources to make people live a good life. Good living is not determined by the population but by so many other things. If some countries have large populations and are living well, Nigerians can also have good lives.”

Odimegwu is right. Good living is not determined by population but by the seriousness of government to improve the living condition of the people. Certainly Prof Adewole’s new population control policy will bring a bad image to the Buhari government. Therefore, President Buhari should act fast and appoint a new Health Minister to replace Prof Adewole. Prof Adewole clearly lacks focus. What has population control got to do with the urgent health needs of the Nigerian people?. If Adewole is looking for something to control, why can’t he control diseases such as malaria, typhoid, polio, high blood pressure, hypertension and so forth that have been killing many Nigerians. Look at exponential rate with which cancer especially cervical and breast cancer is spreading across Nigeria and killing many Nigerians. Why not set up cancer screening centers across Nigeria? Is the Federal Government not aware that many public health institutions in Nigeria lack essentials drugs? Why budget huge sums of money for population control when you cannot provide ordinary drugs in our public hospitals especially in our rural health centers and clinics in Nigeria? Why not use the money budgeted for population control to pay striking doctors so that they stop going on strike and render diligent medical services in Nigeria.

  Last week I visited a medical consultant friend of mine at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu. In the course of our conversation, this diligent doctor informed me that primary and secondary health care systems are virtually non-existent in Nigeria. He regretted that everybody is rushing to Tertiary Heath with utter neglect for community medicine and basic rural medicine that are most beneficial to Nigeria’s numerous rural dwellers. He shocked me with the sad stories of the uncountable children from Enugu, Nsukka, Abakaliki and their environs who die of preventable diseases before they are brought to UNTH.

My UNTH consultant friend further shocked me with the stories of how poor children in Enugu, Nsukka, Abakaliki and  their surrounding villages regularly die in their respective homes from preventable illnesses and from lack of simple vaccination and immunization. This is not a peculiar Enugu State tragedy. It is everyday tragedy across the country. For example, if you step outside the South-East and travel to, maybe, the South-West you will find similar ill-health miseries. Take a trip to Borno State, Kano State, Zamfara State or Sokoto State and you will fall short of words to describe the miserable lives of so many women and children who also lack access to basic primary health care. And if you dare visit the Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camps, you will shed tears after seeing the uncountable number of children and women dying from food and medical starvation.

It is baffling that amid the aforesaid health challenges, Health Minister Prof Isaac Adewole is more interested in population reduction even though is not our priority at the moment. In any case, Prof Adewole was appointed a Health Minister not a population controller Minister. So, why should a Health Minister be exerting his energies in population control matters and leaving unresolved the more urgent primary health care challenges? Is Adewole not aware that due to the exorbitant ante-natal and post-natal bills, many Nigerian pregnant women are still delivered at home by traditional birth attendants and in the process lose their lives?.  Has Adewole forgotten that primary Health care and outpatient clinic services are yet to be decentralized to reach the suffering and dying women in every State, local government, village community and ward community in Nigeria?. If the answers to the above queries are in the affirmative, why is Prof. Adewole seeking alibi in questionable population control issues instead of focusing on the real health needs of the Nigerian people?

It is an absurdity, if not downright stupidity, to argue that the solution to Nigeria’s deplorable health care system at the moment is population control via contraception and abortion. Why do we fail to get our priorities right in Nigeria?. You may ask: what is the business of the Health Minister with population control? Why is UNFPA Executive Director Prof Babatunde Osotimehin always pressuring every Nigerian government to make abortion and contraception accessible even to Nigerian teens in secondary schools?.  You will recall that Prof. Osotimehin pressurized the Jonathan administration to legalize abortion and contraception in Nigeria but failed in that bid. For example, on page 36 of THISDAY Newspaper of November 22, 2012, Osotimehin stated that only investment in abortion and contraception will lead to increased productivity and economic development in Nigeria. Anyway, having failed to get the Jonathan government to legalize abortion and contraception, the same Osotimehin is now mounting pressure on the Buhari government to make abortion and contraception more accessible to a greater number of Nigerians. Two weeks ago Prof Osotimehin approached President Buhari with the aforesaid demand. This is sad. I am sure President is not listening to Osotimehin and his ilk. In a country in which the average citizen suffers from genteel poverty and illnesses, it is illogical to demand that the Buhari government should spend its hard-earned income on stupidities.

Health Minister Adewole argues that population reduction will boost the economy and improve the quality of life for women and children. This is untrue. As I said earlier, the best way to improve the quality of life for Nigerian women and children is through the provision of qualitative health care that is accessible, acceptable and affordable to Nigerian women and children. I still maintain that Adewole is not properly focused otherwise he would have known by now that now is not the best time for population reduction campaigns. We need a more focused Health Minister. Whereas the Buhari government is bent on diversifying the Nigerian economy through people-oriented agriculture in order to come out of the present economic recession, Prof. Adewole is promoting an anti-people population reduction policy. Agriculture thrives on population growth. Thus population growth is not a threat to Nigeria. Instead of seeing population as a threat, population should be seen as a great catalyst for economic growth. The vibrant young people that constitute the bulk of Nigerian population are indeed a vibrant work force that should be used to fast-track Buhari’s agricultural revolution.

In case Prof Adewole does not know, countries like China, Singapore, Bangladesh, India and many Asia countries have reaped enormous demographic dividends from their respective large populations in the last thirty years. The Chinese economy has been growing steadily in the last fifteen years. The Chinese are everywhere today thanks to their huge population. The demographic catastrophe that hit China as a result of its one-child policy has forced China to recently reverse its one-child population policy. Therefore a large population is an asset not a liability. The popular aphorism is that population is power. Population is money too. Small wonder virtually all the big-player telecommunications companies have invested in the Nigerian market. They are obviously reaping huge profit from Nigeria’s large population.

Those familiar with the population control politics in developing countries will attest that it is being done to destroy the human capital in developing countries. But human capital is the elixir of economic growth. A society that kills its children and neglects to fulfill its obligations towards them is obviously heading for extinction.

A RIGHT ATTITUDE TO SEX: MARIA GORETTI’S LIFE

Though published 3 years ago. The ideas are very much relevant today.
Enjoy and share

VERITAS PROJECT

Through movies, advertisement, songs, videos, and even cartoons, most mainstream media in conjunction with governments are propagating a universal right to sexual indulgence; as if we were mere animals, governed only by instinct, lacking all self-control. Unfortunately, this way of thinking is gradually becoming the new norm and has spiked the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Young men and women now have, as it were, an unfettered license to play with sex. Among adolescent girls, the world over, teenage pregnancy is on the rise and since they are often not ready for motherhood, abortion rate is consequently on the rise.

The media and world leaders are lying when they treat us like animals living only by instincts. Apart from having intellect, we also have free will–an ability to choose and we can control our passions, desires and even our sexual urges. However, this can only come…

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DEFEAT OF SENATOR OLUJIMI’S ABORTION BILL (1)

DEFEAT OF SENATOR OLUJIMI’S ABORTION BILL

By Sonnie Ekwowusi

Senator (Mrs) Biodun Olujimi’s abortion Bill suffered a stunning defeat on the floor of the Senate last week. The Bill is 6 years old. It was born in the Senate in 2010. And since then it has never left the Senate.  Senators in the previous Senates had sponsored the Bill only for the Bill to be thrown out for lack of merit. Irrepressible Senator Chris Anyanwu sponsored the Bill in the 7th Senate but again the Bill was rejected for lack of merit. Now the controversial Bill has staged a comeback in the 8th Senate through Senator Olujimi and has again suffered defeat for lack of merit.  We thank God for the defeat of the Bill. I want to thank former Zamfara State Governor Senator Ahmed Sani for brilliantly pointing out that the Bill violated the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. I want to equally thank Senators Adamu Aliero, Rufai Ahmed, Emmanuel Bwacha and others whose Nays eventually paved way for the defeat of the Bill during its Second Reading. I will advise people applauding the Bill to carry out just a little research or a little reading on the politics behind the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill from the United Nations in New York, United States, down to different African countries Nigeria inclusive. If the applauders of the Bill will heed this advice and investigate the Bill as aforesaid, I am sure they will have a re-think on the Bill.

To begin with, the title of Bill, the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill, is very deceptive. The title of the Bill might sound laudable, but it is simply a euphemism for promotion of abrasive western lifestyles that threaten our existence here in Nigeria. Agreed, the Bill contains some laudable sections on the socio-economic and political empowerment of Nigerian women and protections of the rights of the widows and all that but the offensive sections of the Bill are so weighty and damaging that they outweigh any merits of the Bill. The most offensive aspect of  Senator Olujimi’s Bill is that the Bill seeks to incorporate and enforce in Nigeria the provisions of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women 2003 (otherwise simply called the Maputo Protocol) and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). You will recall that attempts to domesticate Maputo Protocol and CEDAW in Nigeria by virtue of Section 12(1)(2)(3) of the 1999 Constitution have consistently been met with stiff oppositions at the National Assembly. With due respect, I am not sure Senator Olujimi understands the larger negative implications of incorporating Maputo Protocol and CEDAW into our copious laws. I will hereunder explain how the incorporation of Maputo Protocol and CEDAW into our laws will, inter alia, bring about the automatic legalization of abortion in Nigeria. I will also explain in this piece how section 12(c) of Senator Olujimi’s Bill legalizes abortion in Nigeria. That is why I have appropriately entitled this Bill Senator Olujimi’s abortion Bill. I will also humbly and respectfully submit that the Bill contains coded words and phrases to legalize homosexualism and lesbianism in Nigeria and by so doing will render the Nigerian Anti-Gay Law inutile, ineffectual and null and void. Finally, I will offer solution: I will give my candid opinion on what to do with Senator Olujimi’s Bill and whether or not the Bill should be amended and re-presented as the Senate President is proposing.

I don’t know why we cannot learn a lesson from history. Apparently those pushing Senator Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South) to sponsor the Bill forgot to inform her that a similar Bill sponsored by Senator Chris Anyanwu in the seventh Senate was similarly defeated for lack of merit. Is Senator Olujimi not aware that a similar Bill was sponsored at the Enugu State House of Assembly a couple of months ago and was also defeated for lack of merit?. When will our legislators learn that Nigeria is not yet ripe for the legalization of all these crazy foreign lifestyles such as abortions, gay rights, transgender right, free-animal-sex right and all that nonsense. Coincidentally, on the very day Senator Olujimi’s Bill suffered defeat, the Ohio Supreme Court handed down a decision that the citizens of Ohio should stop using words such as “husband”, “wife”, “father”, “mother” because they are gender bias and not gender neutral. In many parts of America and Europe they are now abolishing separate “Male toilet” or separate “Female Toilet” because they claim that it is gender bias and not gender neutral.

So we should be wary of importing the Western radicalization of the concept of equality between men and women into Nigeria. This radicalization goes back to the French Revolution down to the era of Communism. In her book, the Globalization of the Western Cultural Revolution, Marguerite A. Peters argues, and, I agree with her, that the post-modern approach to the issue of equality finds its echo and application in the struggle for gender equality and that has led to a deconstruction of gender disparities. Using Marxist categories, radical gender feminists argue that women must resemble and behave like men by all means. They argue that womanhood destroys women, and, that domestic chores which women carry out at home make them inferior to men. They advocate for masculinisation of feminism and feminization of masculinity. These strange ideas are causing a lot of madness in America and Europe at the moment. Shall we join them and become mad ourselves?  I do not think so. We in Nigeria are a different people. If the rest of the world is becoming mad we cannot join them. I think our greatest challenge in Nigeria is that we are yet to come to terms with the Western Cultural Revolution holding the world to captive at the moment. Those conversant with United Nations documents or declarations or United Nations deliberations will attest that the United Nations does not come out in plain language to legalize abortion or homosexuality. It does so through a camouflaged or coded or dodgy language. Many of us do not understand that the over-bandied phrase “gender equality” does not mean the normal equality in dignity between a man and a woman. Perhaps we are yet to appreciate that in the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom and many countries comprising the European Union and even in some Asian countries, the phrase “gender equality” is given a very subjective and pejorative interpretation to mean equality for a number of “genders” The phrase “gender equality” is another euphemism for legalization of homosexuality and lesbianism. “Gender equality” seeks to mainstream homosexuality and lesbianism into all spheres of society: schools, businesses, churches and so forth. Unfortunately the words “gender” and “equality” are not defined in the interpretation section of Senator Olujimi’s Bill. So, what does Senator Olujimi mean by “gender” or “equality”?  As we speak, there are about seven (7) genders recognized at the United Nations. There is male gender, female gender, gay gender, lesbian gender, transgender female, transgender male and bisexual gender. The list could be endless. That is why the Yogyakarta Principles declare that “human sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse” This implies that any government that limits a person’s  same-sex expression or preference is violating that person’s human right. That is why those who criticize same-sex relationships are accused of suffering from homophobia and sponsoring hate language and are currently being sent to jail in the United Kingdom, Canada and other countries.

Unfortunately name-calling has become a pastime in Nigeria. Some link the defeat of Senator Olujimi’s Bill last week to the Northern agenda to control Nigeria. They say that the Bill was defeated by Northern-Muslim Senators who do not believe in progress. I beg to disagree. The Northern Senators who defeated the Bill were merely acting according to the dictate of their good consciences. The fact remains that Senator Olujimi’s Bill is a bad Bill. Apart from the fact that the Bill is replete with vagueness, ambiguities an imprecision of all sorts, many sections of the Bill seek to impose the damaging western lifestyle on the Nigerian people. Agreed, culture is dynamic: we have to jettison certain Nigerian customs and tradition that portray Nigerian women as mere chattel owed by men. But at the same time we must hold glibly to our identity as a people as enshrined in 1999 Constitution.

BAN KI-MON TOLD TO RESIGN

sarkiLagos lawyer Mr. Sonnie Ekwowusi has called for the immediate resignation of United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Mon  following the diplomatic row trailing the newly-released UN gay stamps. Mr. Ekwowusi also calls on the UN chief to tender unqualified apology to the UN member States for unilaterally deciding to release the gay stamps without clearance from the Member States.

On 5th February 2016 the United Nations Postal Administration  officially released four homosexual and transgender postal stamps for  public use ostensibly aimed at promoting gay and transgender rights in the world. One of the postal stamps depicts a homosexual couple carrying a child. Another is a putrid display of two naked lesbians frontally holding each other, caressing and kissing. Another postal stamp shows two homosexuals embracing and kissing, while the fourth stamp shows a butterfly that symbolizes transgenderism.,

According to Mr. Ekwowusi, International law binds upon consensus, and not on unilateral decision of the minority. If nations have not come together and agreed that homosexuality and transgenderism should become a binding international law, why should Ban Ki-Mon and a few others go from behind and impose homosexuality and transgenderism on the rest of mankind? The consensus reached at the various United Nations Conferences, is that all policies and action programs of the United Nations must conform to the purposes and Charter of the United Nations and must reflect the diverse social, economic and environmental conditions of each country, with full respect for their religious, cultural backgrounds and philosophical convictions. Mr. Ekwowusi therefore stated that it is a big scandal, probably, the biggest scandal in the history of the United Nations for Ban Ki-Mon and a few others to unilaterally release the aforesaid offensive gay stamps without a clearance from the UN Member States.

In the same vein, Nigeria’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Usman Sarki has berated the United Nations under Ban Ki-Mon for releasing gay stamps that assault the religious and cultural sensibilities of the UN Member States. According to Sarki, “… we wish to remind the UN to limit itself strictly to activities mandated by Member States and especially to promote issues that are beneficial to mankind rather than lend itself as tool to promote aberrant behavior under the guise of promoting human rights”

AMBASSADOR SARKI UNDER ATTACK FOR OPPOSING UN POSTAL STAMPS SUPPORTING GAY RIGHTS

The United Nations Postal Administration(UNPA) on the 4th of February released six new postage stamps promoting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The new stamps, which seeks to celebrate the diversity of the LGBT community, marks the first time the United Nations has issued stamps with this theme.

The artist, Sergio Baradat who designed them, in an interview said “We live in a world where even though developed nations have embraced marriage equality and LBGT equality, we still have a far, far, far way to go, but we are making some strides,” he added “There are some countries in the world right now where not only are we not celebrated or respected, but we are beaten and killed. And I thought that it would be a wonderful opportunity using art, to use postage stamps as a vehicle – using art to change hearts and minds.” He also stressed that LGBT rights are human rights and that all individuals deserve to be treated equally and fairly under the law.

The fact of referring to LGBT rights as Human Rights and also using the United Nations to push such propaganda hasn’t gone down well with many member states who feel this arbitrary act is an affront to the sovereignty of member nations who share different views.

In anticipation of the unveiling of the stamps, the Deputy Permanent Representative Of Nigeria To The United Nations Ambassador Usman Sarki relying on the charter of the UN condemned the action of UN Secretary General and the UN bureaucracy.

He told a meeting of Member States that “It is in that regard that we wish to remind the UN to limit itself strictly to activities mandated by Member States and especially to promote issues that are beneficial to mankind rather than lend itself as tool to promote aberrant behaviour under the guise of promoting human rights.” “The UN should not take unilateral decisions on such sensitive matters that offend the sensibilities of the majority of its Member States, and contradict their religious beliefs, cultures, traditions and laws. If it must act in this fashion, the UN should promote issues that enjoy consensus and, at the same time, advance the dignity of people and their genuine human rights. In the light of this concern, we call upon the UN not to proceed with this event and to put an end to all processes that are currently in place in all its agencies, funds and programs, that promote and legitimize this tendency on which there is no consensus among member states.

Since delivering his address – which is in line with the spirits of International Law and reason – Ambassador Sarki has been under attack by several persons. Some are saying that he is pushing a homophobic agenda at the United Nations.

Kenny Brandmuse, a Nigerian homosexual and activist has also criticised Sarki. Kenny is in usual way sought to remind Sarki that Nigerian was neither a Christian or Muslim country that it’s a secular country therefore sodomy laws cannot be imposed on them. While I agree with Kenny that Nigeria is a secular country, this is even provided for in Section 10 of the Constitution as follows “The Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State religion.” It 1999 Constitution of Nigeria merely prescribes secularism. Secularism does not mean atheism and the Nigeria Constitution, laws and practices, recognize and acknowledge God. The Preamble to the 1999 Constitution proclaims Nigeria as “one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God”. It guarantees “freedom of thought, conscience, and religion”. Secularism under the Nigerian constitution does not mean moral neutrality but religious neutrality. Our laws recognize and integrate norms of morality which are distilled more from the moral imperative of social co-existence (which may be coincidental with the moral norms of native law and custom and Christian or Islamic moral injunctions) rather than predicated on any religion as such. As such it would utopic to claim that morality doesn’t affect our Laws. Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 is an embodiment of Natural moral law etc.

Leo Igwe on the other hand has accused the Nigeria government of misplacing Her priority, that instead of tackling issues like poverty, unemployment, and insecurity, they are wasting time fighting homosexuality, he even posited that Sarki is not representing the position of millions of Nigerians that support without reservation and hesitation the efforts of the UN to protect the rights of religious, ethnic or sexual minorities. This is a big lie, when the Law prohibiting homosexual marriage was assented to in 2014, it received a thunderous applause from Nigerians so Leo Igwe assertion is unfounded.

I think Leo Igwe and his cohorts are misled as to the Nigerian Stance against homosexuality; the law that was passed was targeted against Homosexuals contracting a valid marriage and enjoying the rights that accrue to marriages, it was also targeted towards prohibiting public show of homosexual tendencies so as not to offend the public morality which the government is compelled to under the constitution to protect. That doesn’t mean that the government is encouraging hatred against homosexuals, as such the government is ready to prosecute anyone who assaults anyone for the singular fact of their LGBT status.

On the issue of misplacement of priority, I think it’s the United Nations that has misplaced its priority long ago, created to sustain peace around the globe, it has left its raison d’être of its creation and now they are now pursing anomalies in the name of widening Human Rights. As regards people being killed because they are homosexuals the data is very minimal, on the other hand there are graver human right violations in China, Syria, Iran, Nigeria(Boko Haram) and the UN is just playing lip service.

It’s not in doubt that homosexuality is an aberrant behaviour, there is no conclusive empirical evidence proving that such individuals are born that way, it’s a way of life just the same way somebody chooses to be a criminal, should we then legalise criminality because it makes some people happy? We can’t.

We stand with Ambassador Sarki, he is doing a great job, and we are proud that a Nigerian is challenging the World to align itself with reason.

Ending Violence Against Women and Children

 

By Joshua Nwachukwu

Reliving the tradition that was started in 2010, the organisers of the International Conference on Women and Children held its 5th conference from the 12th to the 14th of November 2015 at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos.
The conference which is a gathering of world-class intellectuals brought together policy makers, members of the Bench and the Bar, Academic Dons, youths, religious leaders and secondary school students. The theme of this year’s discussion was “Global Approaches to violence against women and children: identifying the triggers, remedies and policy frameworks”.

In her opening remarks, the Wife of the President, Her Excellency Hajia Aisha Muhammadu Buhari highlighted the appropriateness of the conference theme in the struggle to eliminate global violence against women and children. Hajia Buhari stressed the importance of the family which serves as a healthy safe-net in protecting both women and children. She also called for the-invigoration of the institution of the family. She stated that abortion remains the greatest violence against women and the unborn children thus it should be avoided. Concluding, she reminded the audience that the Child’s Right Act remains the benchmark for assessing the rights of children and that the various legislations which propose to end violence against women and children like the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 should be accompanied with multiple enforcement strategies.

The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Mudashiru Obasa , who arrived punctually to make his opening remarks and to declare the conference open, praised the organisers of the conference and promised to continue to support the conference as his immediate predecessor in  office did. While declaring the conference open, he admonished that violence against women should be tackled with caution since some of the reported cases have turned out to be false. He also encouraged girls to dress decently since indecent dressing could trigger violence.
In her opening remarks, the wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Bolanle Ambode challenged the international community to be more pragmatic in protecting female persons and children.
The topics discussed during the three-day conference ranged from rape, challenges of bringing rape suspect to justice, Girl- Child Marriage, Sex and child Trafficking, Role of the law and lawyers in ending violence against women and children, pornography, violence and child nurturing, imprisonment of pregnant women and nursing mothers, empowerment of women: a strategy for reducing poverty and violence to women,  United Nations Peace Keepers: Protectors or Predator, the presentations and discussions of these topics left the audience enchanted and deeply informed on the current state of things.

Being a conference on women and children, the organisers of this conference have always wanted to give a voice to children. So during the three-day conference, the pupils from Whitesands School Lekki, Dominican College Mafoluku, Somerset College Surulere and Lagoon Secondary School Lekki participated in the Children Discussion Panels. The themes for the Panel Discussion were: “when does domestic violence occur: when should we say No and How should we say no” and “ are working children different from non-working children of the same age” The audience were really impressed and shocked at what came out from the mouths of these students mouth. Students from Dominican College added colour to the event with a splendid Art Play which they presented dramatizing domestic violence. The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, though in a hurry waited to watch the children perform and he was greatly impressed by their performance. On the second day of the conference, Dominican College presented a cultural dance which left members of the audience thrilled.

In my paper on the connection between pornography and violence, I stated that a comparative study of rape rates in the U.S,A., Scandinavia, Britain, Australia and New Zealand found a connection between the availability of  pornography and the level of rape. In Australia, the uniform crime data actually support the case for an increase in rape rates after the liberalisation of pornography.

One Discussion Panel which elicited many comments from the conference participants was the Discussion Panel of the Office of the Public Defender(OPD), Lagos State Ministry of Justice. The Panel gave us an insight into the workings of the OPD in Lagos state. It reiterated that the Office of the Public Defender offers Pro bono services to indigent persons,they also have a toll free number. The Panel of the OPD was so good that some participants from other states asked OPD if they could come and help the OPD in their respective states function optimally.  Officials from the National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria (NEMA) also did well in educating us on the Internally-Displaced Persons(IDPs) Camps in Nigeria and how they are trying to eliminate violence against women and children in those camps .At the end of this conference, it was resolved that it is not enough to make laws against violence: efforts must be made to enforce the laws. Also highlighted was the role the Police Force plays in curbing violence. Many called for proper education of the police in the handling of rape victims and victims of crimes in Nigeria. Unfortunately the police were not there to defend themselves. Also highlighted was the need for religious organisations to be careful in handling cases of violence and they should not be more interested in protecting the church’s image or name.

All in all, the conference was fun, educating, eye opening, and it also created a room for networking. What a powerful message that was passed at the conference. We discussed ways to counter assaults on the family including pornography, cohabitation, divorce and marriage-substitutes; and promoting pro-family policies that build a renewed culture of strong marriages and healthy loving families. We discussed proper , parenting, and family living as the hope for the future.  It would be impossible to capture in this article what I learned  at the conference. I will be forever remember the message of hope passed at the conference. I will forever remember the concrete ideas for strengthening homes, and the strategies suggested for promoting public policy that secure and protect families.

CHIMPANZEES AT THE SUPREME COURT

By Sonnie Ekwowusi

Our world has become one big theatre for the celebration of theatrics and absurdities of all sorts under the cover and in the name of “human rights”. Nearly three months after the American Supreme Court ruled that a man can “marry” a man, and a woman can “marry” a fellow woman, two New York chimpanzees called Hercules and Leo have taken the Stony Brook University to the New York Supreme Court for “detaining” them in the university zoo and using them for scientific experiment. The seemingly recondite area of law which the Supreme Court was invited to resolve was whether the two animals who are not human beings can bring a legal action against the University. Whereas under the common law and English law (which borrowed heavily from Roman Law), only physical persons (that is, human beings) and juridical persons (that is, legal and corporate entities, limited companies, partnerships, NGOs etc ) can sue and be sue and can enjoy legal personhood.

But in their legal submission before the New York Supreme Court, the two chimpanzees through their lawyer, Steven Wise Esq., prayed the Court to release them from “illegal detention” at the zoo because they were “non-human persons” subject to law and entitled to the enjoyment of legal personhood and therefore eligible for the writ of habeas corpus and release from illegal detention.

In its defence, the Stony Brook University through Assistant Attorney-General Christopher Coulston urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the application of the two chimpanzees for lack of merit. He submitted that the two animals were not human beings recognized by law to enjoy human rights. He told the court that there was no legal precedent anywhere in the world permitting animals to enjoy the same rights as human beings.

After listening to the arguments from both sides, Justice Barbara Jaffe of the Supreme Court ruled in her 33-page judgement that all animals including chimpanzees Hercules and Leo and other “highly intelligent” mammals, are not persons under the law but properties, and therefore, “they are accorded no legal rights beyond being guaranteed the right to be free from physical abuse and other mistreatment.”. According to the judge, in law, “persons” are defined as those who have “rights, duties and obligations that things do not.”

After the judgment, the lawyer to the two chimpanzees Steven Wise Esq., left the court in annoyance. He has vowed to appeal to the American Supreme Court

What the above reveals once again is the depravity of our fallen condition, at least, in recent times. An Igbo lawyer friend simply described it in Igbo as uwa mmebi (meaning, a topsy-turvy world or a world that is upside down). And he is right. We live in a strange world. One danger in between the Scylla and Charybdis of the 21st Century “secularism” and “progressivism” is that it has reduced the human being to the level of an animal. From legalization of gay “marriage” in the U.S, we are now witnessing animals taking human beings to court to enforce their “rights”. The paradox is that the same society that weirdly argues that unborn babies are “human non-persons” who are not entitled to legal protection under the law are now glibly maintaining that  animals are “non-human persons” that are entitled to legal protection under the law. What a warped and irrational quasi-syllogism.

The pertinent question is: What is happening to our world? For example, in 2008, Senator Emie Chambers living in Nebraska, U.S, filed a law suit against God, seeking a perpetual injunction against what he alleged as God’s harmful activities. Of course, the judge dismissed the suit because he said that God could not be properly served with the court process since he has no physical address on earth. According to the Judge, “Given that this court finds that there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant this action will be dismissed with prejudice“.

Anyway, back to the suit filed by chimpanzees Hercules and Leo at the New York Supreme Court. While dismissing the suit for lack of merit, Justice Jaffe issued a prediction. She said that attempts to extend human rights to animals may not succeed today but might succeed in the future. Note that the case of the two New York chimpanzees is not the first of its kind. For example, in December 2014, an Argentine Court of Criminal Appeals granted a writ of habeas corpus to Sandra, an animal living in a zoo in Buenos Aires. That was the first time an animal was recognized as having legal rights—personhood—in a court of law. The appeals court held that Sandra’s right to liberty was violated. The court also held that “it is necessary to ascribe to the animal the character of the subject of rights, since non-human subjects (animals) are rights-bearers…”. But on January 2, 2015 a contrary decision was handed down: the New York State Supreme Court, (Fourth Judicial Department) refused to grant a writ of habeas corpus for Kiko, a privately owned chimpanzee living in New York. Around the same time, the New York Supreme Court held that animal Tommy was not a “legal person” eligible for a writ of habeas corpus.  Relying on its interpretation of what constitutes “legal personhood,” the court held that a legal person must be capable of having both rights and duties. And animals do not have rights and duties.

The judgment of the New York Supreme Court is praiseworthy.  I hope it would not be upturned by the American Supreme Court. Legal personhood only inheres in a person, created by God in his image and likeness and endowed with freedom and intelligence. It doesn’t inhere in animals. Because human beings are created in the image and likeness of God and endowed with freedom and intelligence, they are far superior to animals. This superiority of the human being above animals is what allows us to talk about the “dignity of the human being“. And the foundation of human rights is rooted in the dignity of the human being.   That is why every human being is considered as a subject of law capable of acquiring rights and duties under the law. This is something that belongs to him (is his): it is an attribute of human nature, and not a concession of law.

Having said this, it is worthy of note that the Universal Declaration on Animal Rights 1978, Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, some international treaties, conventions, protocols, and some countries’ municipal laws have accorded certain rights to animals in order to respect the environment and treat animals with dignity and respect as Pope Francis is urging  in his Encyclical, Laudato Si. Specifically, Article 1 of the Universal Declaration on Animal Rights 1978 stipulates that “all animals have equal rights to exist within the context of biological equilibrium…”; Article 6 states that “experiments on animals entailing physical or psychological suffering violate the rights of animals…”while Article  8 states that “the massacre of wild animals, and the pollution and destruction of biotopes” constitute animal genocide.

In Nigeria, sections 20 and 44(2)(f) of the 1999 Constitution, sections 450, 456 of the Criminal Code, the National Environmental Standard Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Act  and other Nigerian laws frown at the abuse and maltreatment of animals. In fact, Section 7(c) of the Act mandates the Agency to enforce compliance with the provisions of international agreements, protocols, conventions and treaties on the maltreatment of animal and use of the environment.

But granting animal rights from physical abuse and from unnecessary maltreatment, torture and extermination as adumbrated above is completely different from granting legal personhood to animals. Steven Wise Esq. and other animal rights advocates passionately argue that legal personhood should be granted to chimpanzees, apes and the so-called intelligent animals on the ground that even though they are “non-human persons” they have rights, duties and obligations that things do not have under the law. This is flawed. A human person is a man or woman created by God in his image and likeness and endowed with will and intelligence. It is settled law that legal persons are either natural persons (that is, human beings or human persons) or artificial persons (that is, body corporate, limited liability companies, partnerships, registered non-governmental organizations and other juristic entities )  who can sue and be sued in their names and who are capable of exercising legal rights, duties and obligations  under the law. Animals do not have these legal attributes.  Therefore I agree with Justice Jaffe that “beyond being guaranteed the right to be free from physical abuse and other mistreatment.” chimpanzees, apes and the so-called intelligent animals do not enjoy legal personhood.

However the prediction of Justice Jaffe of the New York Supreme Court merits a deeper reflection. Justice Jaffe predicts in his judgment that even though attempts to extend legal personhood to animals may not succeed today it might succeed in the future.  This is definitely a good prediction. One of the consequences of the questioning of the anthropological configuration of man and woman in this epoch is the erasing or blurring of the essential differences between a human being and an animal. Today in many western cultures man is equated with an animal. Man is depicted as one more animal without any higher destiny; without self-control and without any supernatural end. He is also depicted as a beast of pleasure that merely exist today to only satisfy the sensual appetites and dies tomorrow.

In her article, Pro-Animal, Pro-life, Mary Eberstadt writes that following Jeremy Bentham and other utilitarians, Peter Singer forcefully argues in his book, Animal Liberation, that the capacity to suffer is “the vital characteristic that gives a being a right to equal consideration”. In other words, since animals also suffer like human beings they should enjoy the same rights with human beings.  According to Singer, “in short, when properly understood, animals have rights of the same sorts as humans-and in some cases, depending on the state of sentience, rights that trump those of certain humans…there will be some non-human animals whose lives, by any standards, are more valuable than the lives of some humans”

Some think that somehow Nigeria is immune from all these absurd ideas we come across in America and other places abroad. They forget that we now live in a global village that is out to forge out one global behavior and global attitude for all irrespective of cultural and religious differences. They forget that America has a strong influence on the rest of the world and that anything that happens in the U.S is easily exported across the world. For example, gay cartoons targeted at kids below age six are currently being exported from the U.S to the rest of the world including Nigeria. Why? To expose them to gay cartoons and gay movies early in life so that they grow up they will not find anything wrong with gay practices. Now, if for any reason the American Supreme Court wakes up one day and rules that Chimpanzees, apex and so-called other intelligent animals are legal persons sharing the same rights, duties and obligations with human beings under the law, it will become another legal precedent capable of being exported to Nigeria. And if exported to Nigeria and later embraced as part of the Nigerian law, the owners of dogs, goats, sheep, rams, fowls and other animals in Nigeria would not be allowed to kill them and eat them as meat. No rams will be killed during Sallah. No goats and fowls will be killed at Christmas. No animals would be kept in the Zoo. No dogs in Calabar.

 

THE DECLINE OF AMERICAN CIVILIZATION (1)

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Sonnie Ekwowusi

We all saw the anthropological cataclysm coming. The verdict of the American Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage was foreseeable. Given Justice Anthony Kennedy’s gay antecedents and gay pronouncements especially in the cases of Romer V Evans (1996); Lawrence V Texas 2003 and United States V Windsor (2013), the direction of his swing vote last month was predictable. And Justice Kennedy is not yet finished with America. He is poised to write another judgment legalizing bestiality and animalism once the opportunity presents itself.  

What is unfolding before our eyes is the sodomization and gomorrization of America, in fact, the decline of American civilization. President Obama was born for it. He lives for it. Unlike the Martin Luther King lofty dream, Obama dreams of a new gay American civilization. He doesn’t pretend otherwise. Whereas ex-President Bill Clinton used the White House to resolve his complex pelvic issues, Obama has converted the White House into a House of lesbians, homosexuals, Bisexuals, Transgenders, Beastgenders, Transsexuals, Beastsexuals, animalsexuals, and you name it. He converted June as Gay Pride. Obama legalized bestiality or sex with horses (beasts) among American soldiers. He made homosexuality the centre-piece of American foreign policy. For the first time in the history of America, an American gay envoy has been appointed and gay office opened for the purpose of homosexualization of the world thanks to Obama.

In US foreign policies and international relations, Obama, John Kerry and Hilary Clinton have been consistent in advancing gay “rights” among comity of nations.  The US is now a major exporter of gay “rights”. It has recently pressurized Uganda to reverse its anti-gay law. Under the influence of the US, Mozambique has recently decriminalized its anti-gay law. At the moment the US is putting pressure on Kenya to legalized homosexuality. Obama lately has been dating President Mohammadu Buhari (Hopefully not for homosexual “marriage”, although Robert Mugabe is proposing to “marry” Obama). Obama and Buhari are billed to meet on July 20 to discuss issues which include security, economy and Ebola. But fear is being entertained that Obama might trade off US assistance to Buhari government with shooting down Good luck Jonathan’s anti-gay law. Buhari should reject such a trade-off as if it is coming from the devil. Obama has an ugly agenda: he is poised to homosexualize many parts of the world by 2020. His lack of support for the Jonathan government is traced to Jonathan’s anti-gay law.

Surely, the animals in the animal kingdom must be laughing at us by now. In his usual comical mood, the tortoise in particular must be chuckling with laughter and telling other animals, “these humans think they are rational and wise, but see how barbaric and primitive they are. The homosexual practice which we animals have rejected is now being practiced among humans”. The American founding fathers must be turning in their respective graves by now. In the beginning, the gay right movement was unknown in the United States. Even under the common law, marriage is recognized as a contract between a man and a woman.

But the first organized homosexual rights movement in the United States emerged in the 50s. It sought to change the criminal law in United States in favour of homosexual practice. But it was the sexual revolution of the 60s that helped the American gay movement to take its tap root.  Spurred by the campaigns of the American Law Institute Penal Code in 196os, some homosexual started advocating for what they perceived as their right to privacy and to practice their homosexual acts. The first Supreme Court decision to recognize the so-called right to privacy was Grisworld V Connecticut (1965). Later in Lawrence V Texas (2003), the Supreme Court (with Justice Antonini Scalia, Chief Justice William H. Relinquish and Justice Clarence Thomas heavily dissenting) overruled Bowers V Hardwick and held that consensual sexual conduct which including right to homosexuality was part of the liberty protected by substance due process under the fourth amendment of the American Constitution. But subsequent Federal Laws and State laws had differed from Lawrence’s case (supra) and endorsed the traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

At the dawn of American Revolution, the common law concept was adopted and became part of American laws. Suffice it to say that several States in the United States later passed laws prohibiting sodomy in the United States. Penalty for indulging in sodomy included long sentence and long fines. At the dawn of the 19th century and even early 20th century, several States in the United States imposed law against sexual deviant behaviour like homosexuality. For example, in 1970 the Connecticut authority denied driver’s licence to one man who professed to be homosexual.

The Declaration of American Independence is premised on respect for the Laws of Nature and Laws of God. “The equality” meant in the Declaration is equality in human dignity not in barbarism or in animalism. In his book, We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future, Matthew Spalding writes that “ it is important to understand that the philosophical grounding in natural rights does not create a radical and unlimited sense of freedom, as some claim today.

UNFPA DENIES PUSHING FOR ABORTION IN NIGERIA

kidnapped-women-raped-by-boko-haram

Since the terrorist group Boko Haram began their onslaught in 2009, several thousand have been killed and more than 2,000 women and girls abducted.

Since April this year, the Nigerian Armed Forces, with assistance from Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, have forced Boko Haram to be on the defensive. This has enabled the Nigerian government to reclaim several territories previously under the control of Boko Haram. These renewed military efforts have led to the rescue of over 678 women and girls.

After their rescue, the UNFPA’s Executive Director, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin disclosed that about 214 of the girls are at various stages of pregnancy while many others are still undergoing screening for various diseases and infections. This disclosure, for the first time aroused a national debate as to the status of abortion in Nigeria.

Several pro-life groups accused UNFPA of pushing for abortion and sterilisation for the rescued girls and called rather for the abortion of the thought. (Group Faults UNFPA Over Abortion, Sterilisation On Boko Haram Victims, Rescued girls: UNFPA has abortion agenda, PHD alleges, Don’t abort Boko Haram babies, group pleads.

In a similar vein, the Chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) Health Committee, Most Rev. Anselm Umoren urged that the children should not be aborted and that the Church was as ready as always to help in the healing, rehabilitation and resettlement of the victims. He assured that the church will assist the women in the children’s upbringing after the delivery.

Also, the Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos West, Church of Nigeria(Anglican Communion), Rt. Rev james Olusola Odedeji, faulted the plan to carry out abortions on the girls. He reiterated that the church condemns abortion of nay kind and for any reason.

From the social fora, it is clear that it’s not only UNFPA and the foreign media that want the girls to abort their children, but many individuals and Nigerian NGO’s agree with the idea.

After the backlash from several quarters, the UNFPA through its director, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, swiftly responded that the agency does not promote abortion but encourages reproductive health and supports the provision of modern family planning services. He also explained that UNFPA offers psycho-social counselling to internally displaced persons, including women and girls, but certainly not abortion.

This is clearly a lie; realising that the term abortion is repugnant to the cultural and religious views of many Nigerians. The United Nations and its agencies which include UNFPA always use euphemisms like “sexual and reproductive health” and “modern family planning services” in their documents, but it is an accepted fact that this includes abortion.

On page 36 of In its state of the world population 2014, UNFPA, concurring with a statement from the WHO, complained that millions of adolescents and young people lack access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, and to complement this knowledge, young people require a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services, including for the prevention of adolescent pregnancy, ………….safe abortion care. It is worth noting that Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin wrote the foreword of this document.

One of the resolutions of the Bali Global Youth Forum Declaration 2012, which was organised by UNFPA was that “governments must provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services that include safe and legal abortion…………..’’.

Also it is on record that the 48th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) which took place in April of this year, for the first time in history ended without an outcome document. Because the African group objected to the multiple references in the propose text to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and reproductive rights (a term used to promote abortion). Prof Osotimehin who participated was said to have been disappointed.

So who is Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin fooling?

It is clear that anyone calling for the girls to abort their children doesn’t have the girls’ best interest in mind. Since rather than focus on how best to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into the society, by offering them free maternity homes and rehabilitation centres where they can give birth to their babies safely and decide later on how to take care of them, they intend to make these girls pass through the excruciating trauma of abortion.

Apart from the trauma, Dr. Awotoya Waheed a member of Doctor’s Health Initiative (DHI), disclosed that girls who have abortion at an early stage are at high risk of having breast and cervical cancer later in life, and Jerry Okwuosa added that, “it is scientifically proven that a girl that aborts her first pregnancy before 18, her chances of getting breast and cervical cancer increase by 260 percent.”

Abortion is illegal in Nigeria, so publicly stating that the girls should have an abortion is an indirect call for the abortion law to be repealed. As such, it is clear that several interests groups (western countries, the UN and its agencies) want to exploit this situation to legalise abortion in Nigeria. This is an unholy tactic that is not unknown to pro-lifers. It was used in the United States in Roe v. Wade 1973, and many more countries. This same tactic was also tried this year in Paraguay and Uruguay. So we have to be alert.

I realise that these girls’ pregnancy was as a result of rape and violence, which excludes any form of consent or choice on their part. It is very painful no doubt. But this pain should not blind us to a medically established fact that these women are carrying human beings, who are the weakest and most innocent of the parties involved and who also have a birth right to be born. The wrong has been done, but we must realise that two wrongs can’t make a right and that violence cannot be erased with more violence.

The value and dignity of life should not be downplayed or defined by age or circumstances under which one was conceived. In fact it is trite knowledge that these external factors do not define the future of a child. These children can grow up and be of help to the society at large.

As such we should all realise that both the girls and their unborn children are victims of Boko Haram barbarism and they both need access to all necessary medical efforts and also the support of the state and society. It therefore follows that resulting to abortion makes us no different from members of Boko haram sect, who derive joy in harming innocent, harmless and weak citizens.

We must resolutely state that never, never does killing a person resolve a problem, and abortion in this case is no different.