Nigeria: Two men charged with ‘homosexual behaviour’ face up to 14 years in prison
Two men have been arrested and charged with “homosexual behaviour” in Nigeria.
Emeka Eze, 35, and Jonathan Akatin, 22, were charged on Thursday in the city of Jos, and face a potential prison sentence of 14 years.
The pair were arrested by police following a tip-off from neighbours, who alleged that they had been engaging in homosexuality, Premium Times reports.
The prosecutor, Gokwat Ibrahim, told the court that the accused committed the alleged offence at 10pm on 7 September.
“The accused have been committing the offence in their compound publicly, which is against the order of nature. During police investigation, the suspects confessed to the crime,” Mr Ibrahim said.
The prosecutor said that the pair had committed an offence contrary to Section 284 of the Penal Code (Northern States) Federal Provisions Act, which outlaws “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” and applies to all states in northern Nigeria.
Section 284 carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment as well as a fine.
Mr Eze and Mr Akatin have reportedly plead guilty to the charges, but claimed that they did not know they were committing an offence.
Mr Ibrahim added that the pair could be sentenced quickly because of their confessions.
“The court should rely on Section 157(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), that stipulates quick judgment for anybody who confesses to his or her crime,” he said.
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The presiding officer, Mustapha Hassan, has adjourned the case until Thursday 10 October and ordered that Mr Eze and Mr Akatin be remanded in custody until then.
In May, the Nigerian Government passed a new anti-gay law, which stated that same-sex couples who attempted to cohabit or get married would face imprisonment of up to 14 years, while anyone “witnessing” or “abetting” such relationships would face custodial sentences of up to 8 years.
David Cameron said in June that he would raise the issue of the new law with the Nigerian Government, arguing that as a country with strong links to Britain, “nothing should be off the table” during discussions.
Nigeria is a member of the Commonwealth, and one of the 41 members which criminalise homosexuality.
Nigeria is split between a conservative Muslim north and a conservative Christian south. In both parts of the country same-sex relations are illegal. In areas where Sharia Law is in affect, a person convicted of homosexuality can face the death penalty, while in areas where Sharia is not in affect a person can face up to 14 years in prison and a fine.
A Pew Global Attitudes Project in 2007 found that 97% of the country’s population view homosexuality as unacceptable.
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