By Suzan Edeh
Nigerians demonstrated their disdain for same-sex relationships last week when an angry mob almost lynched seven suspected homosexuals who were brought for trial before Sharia Court 4 in Anguwan Jaki, Bauchi State.
This is coming less than a month after President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law, the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that criminalises gay marriage, gay organisations and anyone working with or promoting them.
The presence of the seven suspected homosexuals at the court premises sparked off an uproar from the crowd who came to witness the trial. The suspects are facing trial for allegedly engaging in gay activities, an action that contravenes the Islamic laws, which the Bauchi State operates.
Security personnel had a hectic time trying to rescue the endangered seven. They fired tear gas canisters and several gunshots into the air in a bid to disperse the mob.
Tension started brewing around the court premises when the suspects who were brought n a Hilux van, alighted from the court room.
The suspects - Ibrahim Marafa, Shehu Adamu, Yusuf Adamu, Aliyu Dalhatu, Abdulmalik Tanko, Usman Sabo and Hazif Sabo Abubakar were hurriedly taken back to prision by the security personnel as the angry crowd hurled stones at the van. A few people sustained various degrees of injury in the process.
The crowd which gathered on hearing about the trial, rained abuses on the suspects and pelted them with stones. The charged atmosphere compelled the trial Sharia Judge, Yakubu Aliyu, lawyers and the horde of journalists to run for their lives.
Earlier, inside the rowdy court, the Counsel to the Sharia Commission, Danlami Ayuba, told the court that one of the suspects identified as Ibrahim Marafa, is the Principal of a Government Secondary School.
But Counsel to the suspects, Abdul Musa told the judge that he was not ready and sought for bail for his clients to enable them study the charges. The bail application was however opposed by the Counsel to the Sharia Commission.
The trial judge, El-Yaqub Aliyu refused to grant the bail application and adjourned the case to a later date to enable the prosecutors present their witnesses.
In a related development, the State Sharia Commission also arraigned six other suspects before the court.
When their case was mentioned, the Judge cautioned the Commission’s Counsel to ensure that they have proper evidence on the accused persons before arraigning them in court.
He decried a situation where an accused had pleaded guilty of the offence he committed four years ago and had repented but was brought to court after he had repented.
Quoting sections of the Hadith, he said the accused remained innocent until proper evidence is established that he had committed the offence again.
Counsel to the Sharia commission presented two witnesses against two of the suspects but under cross examination, none of the witnesses said he saw them while they were committing the alleged offence.
The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Haruna Mohammed, said that the suspects were arrested by the Bauchi State Sharia Commission.
In a similar incident, a young man convicted of sodomy by an Islamic Shariah court in northern Nigeria was whipped 20 times.
20-year-old Mubarak Ibrahim, an artisan, pleaded guilty to the gay crime carried out seven years ago.
He said he was tricked into the act by the principal of the High School he was attending and has not since committed a homosexual act.
Mr Ibrahim was spared a sentence of death by stoning because the incident occurred many years ago and because he had shown “great remorse,” Judge Nuhu Mohammed said.
The lashes were given using an animal skin whip in the packed public court. Mr Ibrahim was also ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 naira (around £20). It was not clear if he was able to immediately pay the fee and go free.
Some residents of the State who spoke with VM expressed their disgust with the seven gay suspects, saying that they deserve to die because they have no fear of God and respect for humanity.