Nigerian Sharia court frees 2 suspected homosexuals

There are sharia courts in 9 of Nigeria's 36 states, but Sharia rule is restricted to nine states only

There are sharia courts in 9 of Nigeria's 36 states, but Sharia rule is restricted to nine states only

LAGOS – A Sharia court in Nigeria's northeastern Bauchi State has freed two men suspected of engaging in homosexual acts after finding no evidence to support the charges.

"The prosecution has failed to produce any concrete evidence to prove its case against the accused," Judge Aliyu Elyaqub said in a court hearing that lasted barely 20 minutes.

"Also, no witness has been able to say he caught them in the act. And neither did they own up to such an abominable act," the judge added.

"I hereby dismiss this case for want of diligent prosecution. The accused are hereby set free," he ruled.

On Friday, a Bauchi Sharia court released seven men accused of committing homosexual acts following a closed-door trial that ended with a ruling in their favor.

And on March 6, four men were sentenced to fifteen lashes and fines of $125 each after the court found them guilty based on their own confessions, for which the court reduced the sentences.

Of the dozens arrested by the Bauchi Sharia Commission, one is being tried in a conventional court because he is a Christian and not a Muslim.

Christians arrested in any of Nigeria's northern states under Sharia rule may choose not to stand trial in an Islamic court. 

Sharia courts are recognized by Nigeria's constitution.

There are Sharia courts in at least 19 of Nigeria's 36 states and in capital Abuja, but Sharia rule is restricted to nine states only, including Bauchi.

Homosexuality is met with a minimum 14-year jail term under Nigerian law, which bars gay marriage and any form of same-sex union.

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