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Nigeria court dismisses challenge to anti-gay law

Nigeria court dismisses challenge to anti-gay law

A Nigerian court has dimissed a challenge to the country’s anti-gay law because the man who filed the suit is straight and it does not affect him.

Joseph Teriah Ebah sued the government in Abuja High Court for passing the ‘Jail All The Gays’ law last year, which he said violated the fundamental human rights of LGBTI Nigerians as enshrined in the constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Justice Abdul Kafarati delayed ruling three times before throwing out the case yesterday because he said the law did not directly affect the plaintiff.

Ebah, 42, is married with children and has lived in the UK for the last 14 years.

Kafarati said, ‘This is a fundamental right action and the applicant must show that he has suffered from the action of the defendant or is about to suffer an injury.

‘The applicant in this case has no locus standi to sue on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender community.

‘In the final analysis, the case is accordingly struck out.’

Gay sex is already illegal in Nigeria but the new law not only bans gay marriage but punishes gay couples who marry with 14 years in jail and wedding guests with 10 years imprisonment.

His brother and lawyer, Mike Enahoro Ebah, said they would appeal the ruling.

He said, ‘The court didn’t make any pronouncement on the substantive case on its merit. It only considered the Federal Government’s preliminary objection and resolved that though the fundamental right enforcement procedure rules 2009, particularly its preamble which donates locus/capacity to sue, to the applicant (Teriah) on public spirited litigation, such provision is in conflict with the constitution.

‘In view therefore, the court struck out the suit on the ground of capacity to sue. He claimed Teriah isn’t personally injured by the law.’

Nigerian LGBTI filmmaker Elizabeth Funke Obisanya told GSN, ‘The judge is saying that he would want the LGBTI community to come out and make an application themselves.

‘Personally, I think it’s entrapment as the law clearly states that anyone can file this claim, and the LGBTI community are now illegal so would it even be heard and come to court? Would they not be arrested?

‘I think the judge was influenced by a very Catholic president given the recent Catholic decisions – it shouldn’t have taken three postponements to arrive at a no decision.’