By Melanie Nathan, October 22, 2104.
Preliminary reports, yet to be verified by the Court, indicate that the Nigerian Abuja High Court has delivered a ruling striking down the case where the Court was asked to nullify the new “Jail the Gays” Act, signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan in January of this year.
My source indicates that Justice Abdu Kafarati struck the case, after several postponements. He did not rule on the human rights claim or any merits, as he asserted the claimant had ‘no right to file the claim.’ I am not clear on the all the reasons for this and will report as soon as we hear more. Details and the exact ruling will follow in an update.
“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 denotes 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 down the suit on ground of capacity to sue. He claimed Teriah isn’t personally injured by the law.”
We are informed by the Attorneys that will be appeal the ruling.
Prior to enacting this law, Nigeria already had laws criminalizing its LGBTI population. However the new law provided for harsh sentencing, and also, in essence, serves to persecute Nigeria’s LGBTI community, through tacitly encouraging “mobs who engage in what amounts to “queer cleansing” — the violent and systematic eradication of any expression of LGBTQ identities and culture.” (Huffington Post)
Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Nigeria. The maximum punishment in the twelve northern states that have adopted Shari’a law is death by stoning. That law applies to all Muslims and to those who have voluntarily consented to application of the Shari’a courts. In southern Nigeria and under the secular criminal laws of northern Nigeria, the maximum punishment for same-sex sexual activity is 14 years’ imprisonment. The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act criminalizes all forms of same-sex unions and same-sex marriage throughout the country.
IMPORTANT NOTE AND UPDATE::
The Judge has held that the Plaintiff, a straight Nigerian man is not injured by the law himself and therefore does not have capacity to sue. Although this is being appealed, I asked the attorney if it is too late for aggrieved parties, possibly new plaintiff to join the case and he says it is not too late. But I understand the fear of those in Nigeria to come forward in that climate to admit they are gay and to bring the lawsuit. Hence we are looking for LGBT Nigerians who left Nigeria after the January law was signed and any Nigerians in Nigeria willing to be a party to this lawsuit and other actions which will be filed concurrently. I have already been contacted by several people showing interest. Please contact me and I will put you in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org