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Court orders arrest of surety for gay suspect


A Federal High court in Ibadan has ordered the police to apprehend and produce in court at the next hearing date a suspected homosexual arraigned in 2016.

The court gave the order after non appearance of a defendant Seyi Akinloye, male of 38 year-old  in the last five consecutive sittings, an indication that he might have jumped bail.

However,  the court ordered that the defendant’s surety should also be brought to the court on the next sitting slated for January 17th 2020.

It would be recalled that the suspect was arrested in Ibadan in 2016 on allegation of having an affair with a fellow 45 year-old man identified as Olawale Kolawole who has been at large after a warrant of arrest issued against him.

The judge in his ruling said the police should get the defendant arrested and make him appear in court or get his surety to appear before him in the next adjourned date.

Just last week, forty-seven Nigerian men pleaded innocent on to a charge of public displays of affection with members of the same sex, an offence that carries a 10-year jail term, Reuters reports.

Homosexuality is outlawed in many socially conservative African societies where some religious groups brand it a corrupting Western import.

The Nigerian men, who appeared at a court in the commercial capital Lagos, were among 57 arrested in a police raid on a hotel in the impoverished Egbeda district of the city in 2018.

Police said they were being “initiated” into a gay club, but the accused said they were attending a birthday party.

The trial is a test case for a law banning gay marriage, punishable by a 14-year jail term, and same-sex “amorous relationships”. It caused international outcry when it came into force under former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014.

Nobody has yet been convicted under the law, prosecution and defense lawyers in the case told Reuters. But Human Rights Watch and other activists say it has been used to extort bribes from suspects in exchange for not pursuing charges.

“Police officers will stop you and then get you arrested, extort money from you and begin to call you names,” Smart Joel, one of the defendants, told Reuters before the hearing. “I just wish the case will be quickly dismissed as soon as possible,” added Joel, 25, who runs a laundry and dry cleaning business.

Spokesmen for Nigeria’s police and ministry of justice did not respond to text messages and phone calls seeking comment on the extortion allegations.

Activists working to protect rights of sexual minorities in Nigeria said they were tired of harassment.

“The vagueness of the law makes it impossible to get a conviction,” Xeenarh Mohammed, executive director of the Lagos-based Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS), told Reuters. “What does ‘amorous showing of same-sex affection’ mean?” she added

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