Alleged Same-sex Offence: Lack of space in courtroom forces judge to adjourn arraignment of gay suspects

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A lack of space in court on Tuesday stalled the arraignment of 57 persons the Nigerian police accused of engaging in homosexual activities.

The planned arraignment before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos could not continue as the courtroom was too small for all the defendants.

During proceedings, the defence counsel, Israel Usman, informed the court that 46 out of the 57 defendants were in court and ready for arraignment.

In response, Justice Aikawa said only 36 names were listed before him as defendants.

“I am going to record that most of the defendants are present in court because I only have 36 names before me,” the judge said.

“We cannot have 57 persons in this court. We have to look for a day we can use Court 2 so it can be convenient for all.”

He also said since the defendants were all on administrative bail, the adjournment for arraignment would not be unfair to them.

Mr Aikawa adjourned the case till November 22 for arraignment. He asked the prosecuting counsel, Joseph Eboseremen, to serve all necessary documents on the defence to enable them to file all necessary applications on the adjourned date.

The defendants face a one-count charge of “making public show of a same-sex amorous relationship with each other in hidden places within said Kelly Hotel.”

They were arrested on August 26, 2018, at about 2 a.m. at Kelly Hotel in the Egbeda area of Lagos State.

The alleged offence is contrary to and punishable under section 5(2) of the same-sex marriage (prohibition) Act 2013 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The defendants had earlier been arraigned before a Lagos State Magistrate Court at Yaba on a three-count charge bordering on cultism and cultist activities.

In August, a lawyer representing some of the accused demanded that the police drop all charges against them after failing to prosecute them one year after arrest.

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