A federal court in Lagos has struck out charges of homosexuality filed against 57 persons.
The suspects aged between 20 and 33, were initially accused of homosexual acts and arranged before a Chief Magistrate’s court in Yaba in August 2018.
They were arrested on August 26, 2018, at about 2 a.m, at Kelly Ann Event Centre, situated at 3-7, Aderele Street, Egbeda, Lagos.
They, however, denied the charges.
The now popular Nigerian crossdresser, James Obialor aka James Brown, of ‘They didn’t caught me’ fame was one of the youths who was arrested during the raid.
During the renewed hearing, the judge, Rilwan Aikawa, said the charges against the defendants lacked “diligent prosecution” by the police.
He said, the prosecuting counsel, J.I. Ebhoremen, was, for the umpteenth time, absent from court and failed to give a reasonable explanation.
The defence counsel, Israel Usman, also noted that Tuesday’s hearing was the ninth time Mr Ebhoremen did not show up in court since the case started in 2019.
He also drew the judge’s attention to Section 356(5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 which provided a maximum of five adjournments at the instance of the prosecution in a criminal trial.
In his ruling, Mr Aikawa held, “I agree with defendants’ counsel that the prosecution’s attitude to this case is not satisfactory. In my view, this should not be. If the prosecution has a cogent reason not to be in court, he should have communicated in writing to the court and copy the defence counsel.
“For whatever reason, the prosecution is no more capable or not willing to prosecute this case. Consequently, this case is struck out due to a lack of diligent prosecution.”
The 57 defendants were arraigned on one count of “engaging in an amorous gay relationship” contrary to Section 5(2) of the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013
The defendants include Segun Ode, 24; Afolabi David, 20; Azeez Tunde, 22; Adedokun Pelumi, 22; Smart Joel, 25; Iyodun Ehiosun, 20; Rilwan Jamiu, 24; and Raphael Matthew, 38.
Also listed as defendants were Chibuike Emmanuel, 23; Prince Collins, 23; Daniel Aya, 22; Alozie Innocent, 21; Kelvin Nwachukwu, 23; Okekoya Gbemi, 33; Odika Emmanuel, 25; Kojo Emmanuel, 27; Adewole Micheal, 27; Alabi Olamilekan, 21; Oluwaseun Odu, 26; and Oladipo Eniola, 24, among others.
All the defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charge and the court granted bail to each of them in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum.