Nigeria: Trial of men accused of being gay suspended due to ‘mob justice’ fears
Two Islamic courts in Nigeria have suspended the trials of 10 men accused of breaking laws against homosexuality over fears stones will once again be thrown at the defendants.
An angry crowd last Wednesday pelted stones at several men suspected of breaking Islamic law banning homosexuality after their hearing was adjourned at the Upper Sharia Court in the northern city of Bauchi.
Police were forced to use teargas and fire shots in the air to disperse the mob, who were demanding summary trial and execution for the defendants.
After dispersing the crowd, the men were returned safely to the prison, and Judge El-Yakubu Aliyu closed the court following the disruptions.
The seven men had been due to reappear in court on Tuesday.
But an official told AFP: “We can’t continue with the trial in view of the security breach we had during the last court session.
“The court will have to suspend the trial pending the review of the security situation with relevant authorities to avoid a repeat of the mob action we saw last week.”
A separate trial of three other suspects at another sharia court in the Tudun Alkali area of the city was also put on hold.
“The trial has been suspended because of the stoning incident in the other court, which we are trying to avoid here”, said judge Nuhu Mohammed Dumi.
“The remand notice for the suspects expired today [Tuesday] but we will have to extend it.”
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Predominantly Muslim states in Nigeria introduced Sharia law, a legal system based on Islamic theory and philosophy of justice, in 2000.
It sanctions severe physical penalties for violating its code.
Anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union may be jailed for up to 14 years. The law also bans people who register, operate or participate in gay clubs, societies or organisations, or who publicly show that they are in a same-sex relationship.
Same-sex relationships were already illegal in the country prior to the new law passing.