Canadian government has denied cancelling President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to the country.
Canada through its embassy in Abuja debunked media reports that it cancelled a scheduled visit of the president because he signed the anti-gay law.
In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, the Canadian Counselor in Abuja, Ms. Alexandra Mackenzie said there was no scheduled visit of Jonathan to the country.
Responding to an inquiry from our correspondent, Mackenzie said, “Canada and Nigeria enjoy shared interest in expanding opportunities for economic, social and security cooperation between our two countries.
“No visit is scheduled. However, we look forward to the opportunities of welcoming President Goodluck Jonathan to Canada at a future date.”
Our correspondent, however, gathered that the two countries had for some time been exploring diplomatic channels to arrange a visit for President Jonathan to Canada before he signed the anti-gay law.
A source in government, who confided in our correspondent said, “It is true that the two countries are working towards the visit of President Jonathan to Canada, but the arrangement has not been concluded. You cannot cancel a visit that has not been scheduled. The arrangement is still on but no date has been fixed.”
Jonathan on January 7 assented to the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013 which criminalises same-sex relationships in the country.
On January 14 when it became public that the president had signed the bill into law, the Canadian government openly expressed concerns over the law.
In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja by the Canadian embassy, Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, said the country would continue to speak against the criminalisation of gay marriage.
“We call on Nigeria to repeal this law and to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Nigerians regardless of their sexual orientation,” Baird said.