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Nigerian judge throws out homosexuality charges against 47 men

Nigerian judge throws out homosexuality charges against 47 men

  • Police arrested the men when they raided a hotel in 2018.
Busy street in Lagos, Nigeria.

A Nigerian judge has thrown out a case against 47 men who police charged with public displays of affection with members of the same sex.

The case was a test of Nigeria’s anti-LGBT+ law – one of the toughest in the world. The law against ‘gay marriage’ punishes any kind of same-sex ‘amorous relationships’ and even friendships with up to 14 years in prison.

In this case, police raided a party of around 80 men at a hotel in the Egbeda district of Lagos, Nigeria’s capital city, in 2018. Some managed to flee the scene but police arrested 57 of the men and 47 have waited over two years since for a court to hear their case.

The defendants say they are innocent and were merely attending a birthday party.

Moreover, prosecutors didn’t even bother to show up at the hearing at the federal high court in Lagos on Tuesday (27 October). They had already managed to adjourn the case several times.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa struck out the case. He said he acted due to the ‘lack of diligent prosecution’.

‘This has caused a lot of damage in my life’

Outside the court, taxi driver Onyeka Oguaghamba, a father of four who said he merely drove people to the court told Reuters he was happy the judge struck out the case. But he said he was disappointed it wasn’t dismissed entirely.

He said: ‘I am not happy, because I’m looking for the matter to end in a way that people will see me and believe what I have been saying from the beginning.’

This way, he added, the authorities could charge him again.

Likewise Chris Agiriga said even the judge’s decision wouldn’t help him reconcile with his family. They rejected him over the allegations.

He said: ‘Since the past two years, this has caused a lot of damage in my life.’

However dancer James Brown, another of the 47, said: ‘I am free. It means a lot of good things.’