The persecution of the Nigerian LGBT community is very much alive and well.
I was in court a couple of days ago, before Hon. Justice H.O. Ozoh at the High Court Ogidi, when the sixth case on the court's list of cases for the day was called up.
Nzube Okonkwo was accused of what the law calls: "Indecent Practices Between Males.”
I was struck with terror and embarrassment at the same time. It was all so surreal to me.
Section 199 of the Criminal Code Law of Anambra State provides that:
"Any male person who, whether in public or private commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years.”
I don't know all the facts of that case. But it was revealed in court on that day that:
1. The accused person has been in prison custody since 2010 (Seven donkey years!) for an offence that carries a penalty of a 3-year jail sentence. (This is very bad!)
2. The complainant in the case has already died
3. None of the witnesses called by the prosecution was willing to come and testify against the accused person. (Phew!)
The presiding judge admonished the accused to "be of good behaviour", “focus on girls” and “leave his fellow men alone”. He even suggested punishment for women who engage in "gross indecency with women" (the state law has no punishment for such apparently) and also cracked a joke off record by suggesting castration for men in such offences.
The court subsequently discharged the accused. (Lucky chap.)
However, he was discharged, but not acquitted. This means he was not found to be innocent of the charge against him. There is still the (unlikely) chance he may be charged to court again on the same facts.
I provided these details so that you can get a certified copy of the court proceedings if you feel like.
What do we do as a community to put an end to this nightmare?
Written by Legal Koboko