Nigerian Sharia court orders 15 lashes for 4 'homosexuals'

LAGOS – Four men have been sentenced to 15 lashes and a fine of $122 each by a Sharia court in Nigeria's northeastern Bauchi State for committing homosexual acts.

Justice El-Yaqub Aliyu of Bauchi Upper Sharia Court said Thursday that the four men had confessed to the acts "long before they were arrested based on rumor."

The four had been arrested and arraigned alongside four others by the state's Sharia Commission for alleged commission of homosexual acts.

"This light sentence was because the prosecution did not provide any verifiable proof to back its allegations," said the judge. "Also, no one testified to seeing them commit the act."

"The convicts had confessed to the offence themselves while also saying that they had since stopped it," Aliyu noted.

The sentence shows that the convicts were not prosecuted under the new law which imposes a minimum 14-year jail term for anyone convicted of homosexuality, according to Anadolu Agency reporter.

Nigerian laws are generally not retroactive, another reason the judge may have exercised his discretion since the new homosexual law came to force only in January.

Bauchi is one of the nine northern Nigerian states that enforce the sharia legal code.

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