Lack of evidence stall trial of 57 men arrested for homosexuality
The Nigerian Police Force have been accused of stalling the trial of the 57 men arrested for homosexuality in Egbeda, Lagos.
The men were arrested at a hotel where it is stated that they were carrying out gay initiation ceremony.
The lawyer representing the accused men, Oludara Falana stated that the case is dragging because the police are yet to present their proof of evidence before the court.
“If you’re going to charge people to court, you must give us the proof of evidence,” Mr Falana said at press conference on Monday August 26.
“The proof of evidence is everything you were able to gather together during your investigation which informed your decision to charge them to court.
“From my understanding and my interaction with some of these boys, they were in a party, so how do you prove to the whole world that they were engaged in same-sex? We have 57 boys, who is having sex with the other? How were they doing it?
“It’s been exactly one year that these boys have been arrested and detained, and I can tell you, as at the last time we were in court, not a single charge has been preferred against them.
“I was in court personally myself on the last adjourned date and I tried to move the magistrate to strike out the case because as far as I’m concerned, there is no case before the court because there is no charge. But in her wisdom, she said no, that she is going to adjourn.
“Counsel to the police mentioned that they are trying to put heads together and charge them before a federal high court, that it was a federal offence.”
Nigeria’s anti-gay law criminalizes same-sex relationships, and persons caught in the act risk spending 14 years in jail.
Acknowledging the law, Falana reportedly lashed out at police for stalling the trial of the 57 men despite parading them in the media
“The question here is this, if the Constitution has guaranteed their freedom of association, freedom to assemble together, that fundamentally-guaranteed freedom cannot be taken away at the whims and caprice of anybody including the state.
“Anybody can gather, that is what the Constitution says, the Constitution never mentioned that boys must not stay together or girls must not assemble” he said.
“These boys have been shown to the whole world as homosexuals, as criminals. At the end of the day, if the state cannot prefer a charge against them in one year, it tells a lot about whatever is wrong with their investigation.
“Secondly, how are you going to make up for this stigmatisation? Are you going to take them back on air and say we are sorry these boys are not whom we thought they are? How do you ameliorate their pains in terms of re-creating the wrong impression you have given the whole world?” he added.
Xeenarh Mohammed, the executive director of The Initiative for Equal Rights, lamented the demonization of the men by the media and also how they are being deprived the right to clear their name.
“The reason we are here today is because of the miscarriage of justice that has been done here in Lagos State both by the police and the entire legal system,” said Ms Mohammed.
“Today is exactly a year since the people at a birthday party were arrested, detained for days, maltreated and they’ve still not seen justice. They’ve been branded as criminals, displayed to the rest of the world and they have not had a chance to clear their names.”