An Abuja-based Islamic cleric, Abdulkadir Apaokagi, has advocated death penalty for gays in Nigeria, saying they are perverts who do not deserve to co-exist with right thinking and decent people.
Speaking at the weekly prayer session of one of Nigeria’s fastest growing Islamic organisations, Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society of Nigeria, NASFAT, Mr Apaokagi said gays are worse than murderers, and deserve stiffer penalty than those accused of killing fellow human beings.
“Homosexuality and lesbianism are just too dirty in the sight of Allah,” the cleric told an animated congregation of not less than 2,000. “Those who engage in them deserve more than capital punishment. When they are killed, their corpse should also be mistreated.”
Mr Apaokagi, the deputy chief Imam at the Abuja branch of NASFAT, who spoke on the topic, “The position of Islam on gay marriage” said gay people are mentally unstable and could bring severe instability to the society in which they live.
“None of them can pass a psychiatric test, because they are not normal,” he said.
Mr. Apaokagi sermon is against the background of a recent strict law passed by the Nigerian senate banning same-sex marriage and public display of affection by gays in Nigeria.
The bill – Same Sex Marriage (prohibition) bill 2011 – also prescribes 14 years jail sentence for convicted gays in Nigeria.
Quoting copiously from the Quoran, the cleric praised the Senate for passing the law, saying Allah decreed marriages only between members of the opposite sex, and that any society that tolerates gay marriage would come to destruction the way God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for sodomy.
“They are criminals,” Mr Apaokagi said. “Allah himself describes them so, and it is great that the Senate has crininalise what they are trying to do.”
He urged the lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, to take a cue from the Senate, and pass its own version of the bill without delay so President Goodluck Jonathan could sign an harmonized version into law.
Mr. Apaokagi also urged Nigerians to ignore criticisms from the West, and come together as one to fight practices that might bring destruction on their country.
“When God wrath descends, it will affect us all except we speak out against this evil practice.”
Another cleric, who spoke after Mr. Apaokagi, AbdulHakeem Bello, told the congregation, “Whenever any of you see something that is indecent , change it with your hands. If you cannot change it with your hands, use your tongue to condemn it.”
The anti-gay law is very popular in Nigeria because it aligns with popular religious, cultural and moral principles of majority of citizens.
But it has drawn the ire of some western nations such as the United States and Britain whose Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently threatened to withdraw aids from countries which do not recognise gay rights.
Nigerian political and religious leaders however appear resolute in getting the law passed.
Shortly before the law was passed, the President of the Senate, David Mark, scorned at countries that are displeased with Nigeria’s stance against same-sex behaviour.
“Countries who would prefer not to give Nigeria aids on the account of its aversion to same-sex marriage should keep such aids to themselves,” Mr Mark said. “Our values remain our values.”
Even as western nations and gay activists kick, a popular Nigerian church has written to Mr Mark for calling the bluff of critics and presiding over the passage of the law.
“We receive with joy the Senate passing on Tuesday November 29 a bill outlawing same-sex marriage in Nigeria as well as banning public display of affection between homosexual couples,” an Enugu-based Pentecostal church, Amazing Love Assembly, said in a December 1 letter to Mr. Mark. “The jail term attached to the bill is the icing on the bill. Congratulations to you, the leadership of the Senate and the entire member of the Senate for this monumental decision.”