An Abuja Federal High Court has been asked to stop the Federal Government from enforcing the ban on same-sex marriage and relationships in the country.
The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013, which criminalised the practice, was recently signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The development drew the ire of the international community, with the United Kingdom, the United States and several other countries condemning the law while asking the Federal Government to reverse it.
The United Nations also frowned at the law, and in a recent visit to Nigeria, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, spoke against the anti-gay law and tried to get the Federal Government to reconsider it.
The Federal Government had stood its ground, insisting that there was no going back on the law.
But a Nigerian citizen, Mr. Teriah Joseph Ebah, who described himself as “a happily married man with a son,” has dragged the Federal Government to court to challenge the law.
In the suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/197/2014, the plaintiff, through his lawyer, Mike Enahoro Ebah, asked the court to declare that the provisions of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013, particularly sections 1 (1) (a) (b), 2 (1) (2) and 3 violated the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens as enshrined and protected in section 42 (1) (a) (b) and 2 of the 1999 Constitution, as well as articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Asking the court to declare the anti-gay law as unconstitutional, null and void, the plaintiff equally asked the court to make an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Government “from further enforcing the provisions of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013, particularly sections 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the said Act.”
The court was asked to determine whether the law did not violate and contravene the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens, and also, whether it was not an impediment to the freedom provided for Nigerians in the 1999 Constitution, and therefore inconsistent with the intentions of the Constitution.
In an affidavit in support of the originating summons, the plaintiff, Teriah Joseph Ebah, gave his address as House 48, 24 Crescent, Off 2nd Avenue, Gwarimpa, Abuja, and No. 74 Stockport Street, Derby, DE22, 3WP, United Kingdom.
He explained that he holds a BA degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Derby, UK, as well as a Masters degree in Strategic Financial Management from the same institution, and is also a registered member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting of Britain.
Ebah further explained that he is currently working with the Department for Works and Pension under the employment of the British Government.
According to him, his close relationship with Nigerians at home and in the UK had given him an insight into the worrisome plight and predicament the anti-gay law “has brought to bear on these citizens.”
He noted that while while there is no law that stops a citizen of Nigeria from registering an association to protect the interests of animals in the country, the anti-gay law prohibits the registration of a union to fight for the rights of Nigerians who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
Ebah informed the court that he was aware of the fact that, since the signing of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2014, about 32 persons have been arrested in different parts of the country on the basis of their sexual orientation.
He described the arrest and prosecution of the suspected gays as genetic genocide.