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Dissecting Death Punishment For Gays In Nigeria ―By Joseph Ayuba

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The unconfirmed case of one Kingsley Idowu who was reportedly stoned to death and his alleged accomplice in gay practice, one innocent Ezeoru who escaped lynching to death by whiskers by irate mob in Surulere-Lagos sometime early April, 2017 brings to fore the need to re-examine the whole issue of gay practice in Nigeria.

Nigerian laws, native customs and traditions and overall culture totally abhor same-sex practice and marriage. 

Specific several penalties have been spelt out in our law books for infractions on the anti-gay laws which also stipulate procedures for determining the cases. 

We have to very careful in this country not to pronounce innocent people guilty as gays and abuse the rights and privileges of gays by angry mob such as the callous experience of Kingsley Idowu and Innocent Ezeoru mentioned above under the guise of public obsession and contempt against the practice.

Despite the cultural and legal prohibition of lesbianism, homosexuality, sodomy and same sex marriage and associations in Nigeria, no law empowered anybody to take the laws into his or her hands by either killing, bruising or torturing any suspect of the crime. 

Any suspect is supposed to be charged to court which will thoroughly examine the case and determine the appropriate verdict. 

Condoning mob action against suspected gay is barbaric, wicked and may and always lead to miscarriage of justice. 

We have to avoid any ugly situation where somebody seeking for revenge will hide under the public contempt against gay practice to wreak havoc against an enemy who is an innocent person.

The maximum punishment for both male and female same sex sexual activity in the twelve northern states that have adopted Sharia law is death by stoning. 

The law applies to all Muslims and to those who have voluntarily consented to application of Sharia courts. Homosexuality can fetch man in Southern Nigeria 14 years imprisonment.

On 13th January, 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same-sex Marriage Prohibition Act which the National Assembly passed in May, 2013. 

The law contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison and bans gay marriage, same-sex amorous relationship and membership of gay rights group.

The Nigerian Police on April 20, 2017 arraigned 53 young men at Chief Magistrate Court, Sabon Gari Zaria in Kaduna State and charged with criminal conspiracy, unlawful society and assembly because they attended a gay marriage between Umar and Sanusi, two males.

That is the civilized way of handling Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons’ rights rather than the crude and jejune justice meted out to Kingsley Ezeoru. 

According to unconfirmed reports that filtered into the public domain, late Kingsley Idowu was a known gay in his Surulere neighbourhood whereas Innocent Ezeoru who looks romantic, sexy and attractive was always with the late Kingsley and often found in compromised positions in hotels and hide-outs. 

It was possibly on the 16th of April, 2017 when the public were enraged with the news that both the late Kingsley and Innocent committed sodomy in a hotel in Surulere. 

While both of them were inauspiciously walking in the street in a romantic manner, the unexpected mob bounced on them, lynched Kingsley Idowu to death on the spot while Innocent Ezeoru escaped and the angry mob gave him a hot chase with a view of killing before he luckily escaped to as safer location though heavily traumatized. 

The vicious experience of Kingsley and Innocent is one of the manifestations of the gross violations of the rights of suspected gays in Nigeria.

There is no enacted law in Nigeria prohibiting discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation. This is why the LGBT persons are exposed to the worst forms of public tortures, indignation, molestation, harassment, discrimination and death. 

A female Ijero-Ekiti, Ekiti State Nigerian born and US based Real Estate Mogul, Solar Percy who recently married with her lesbian partner in US celebrated her gay marriage freedom and denounced Nigeria where they could have been arrested, humiliated, harassed and sent to jail.

There are so many pro-and anti LGBT rights consciousness, practices and movements in Nigeria and all over the world. 

Opposition to gay practice is a meeting point of Nigerians irrespective of tribe, religion, class, ideology, etc. the dominant population and majority and in fact 87% of Nigerians according to a survey in 2015 are vehemently opposed to it. 

Not long after that, another survey showed that 30% of Nigerians want LGBT person’s rights in education, healthcare, and housing to be guaranteed. 

Most people in Nigeria do not want to use ear and hear the word ‘gay’. 

In maiden visit of President Muhammed Buhari to Barrack Obama of US, the Nigerian leader pointedly told Obama that there is no room and space for gay practice in Nigeria. 

Nigerian Law enforcement Agents have seriously clamped down on any suspected gay. No Gay in Nigeria will have effrontery to declare his or her sexual orientation publicly. 

If you dare it, the bitter experience of Kingsley Idowu who was allegedly lynched to death and Innocent Ezeoru who escaped death by whiskers will be visited on the person.

Efforts should be intensified to advocate for due process in handling same sex activity issue in Nigeria and for adequate compensation where gay rights are brutally violated.

There are fundamental rights naturally and constitutionally guaranteed for all Nigerians whether Gay or not. 

Taking away other rights because one is a gay is barbaric and wicked. Let us do the cautionary measure we can as human beings reasonably and leave the rest to God.

Joseph Ayuba lives in Onigbongbo, Maryland – Lagos

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