Setback for prosecution in Nigerian sodomy case

The prosecution of two Nigerian men who face the death penalty after being accused of sodomy suffered a setback on Thursday when a second police witness said that he had not actually seen the pair having sex.

Police Constable Garba Umar was the second officer to admit that he had not witnessed the alleged act and, as northern Nigeria’s interpretation of Islamic Sharia law requires four eye-witnesses to convict in a sex crime, his testimony was seen as damaging the prosecution case.

“While I was on night duty on June 19 at around 11.30pm a man came and reported that he saw two men in a toilet having sex and I was sent along with two of my colleagues to arrest them,” Umar told the Upper Sharia Court in the northern city of Katsina.

“They were still inside the toilet when we arrived and we arrested them. I didn’t see them having sex but my colleague Corporal Nuhu was the one who saw them in the act and alerted us because he was the first to reach the scene and peep through the

window.

“Although we met Yusuf with unbuckled trousers I didn’t see any sign that they had had sex on his trousers because I was not the one who searched them at the police station. They both denied committing sodomy,” Garba said.

Kabiru Yusuf (40) and 18-year-old Usman Sani, have been accused of having sex in a public toilet less than 100m away from the Sharia courthouse.
If convicted, they could become the first alleged homosexuals to be stoned to death since Katsina reintroduced Islamic law.

The judge adjourned the case to October 19 when the prosecution is expected to produce its remaining two witnesses. The accused were remanded in custody.

The case has attracted the concern of gay lobbyists in France, Democratic lawmakers in the United States and a senior United Nations human rights envoy, who have all called for Nigeria to show tolerance towards homosexuals. - Sapa-AFP

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