Nigeria Federal High Court Justice Rilwan Aikawa has struck out a case against 47 men accused of violating Nigeria’s law against homosexual relationships, including gay marriage, due to “the lack of diligent prosecution.”
The men faced charges relating to public displays of affection with the same sex, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The men were arrested at the Lagos hotel in 2018. Police claim the men were being initiated into a gay club while the men claim they were attending a birthday party.
The court had adjourned the case on several occasions with the prosecution failing to present witnesses. The prosecution also failed to show up to Tuesday’s hearing.
Under Nigeria’s laws, when a case is struck out, it means that the accused can be arrested and arraigned again on the same charge. In contrast, when a case is dismissed, the accused cannot be arrested again on the same charge. Nonetheless, people were heard cheering after Justice Aikawa announced the verdict.