Death by stoning is the sentence for three men convicted of ‘engaging in homosexuality’ in Nigeria, just two weeks after their arrest.
The state of Bauchi in northern Nigeria is under Sharia court law. While a regular criminal court handles matters like theft and murder, the sharia courts handle ‘morality’ crimes, such as adultery, blasphemy, or homosexuality.
Three men, one of them 70 years old, were arrested on June 14th by the Hisbah religious police. None of them were allowed lawyers, but according to head of police Adam Dan Kafi, all three men confessed to the crime of same-sex physical relations.
Judge Munka’ilu Sabo sentenced the three to death without hearing any counterargument. The three condemned have 30 days to appeal (still with no counsel), and after that the death penalty will have to be approved by the state governor, who has approved such sentences before.
Nigeria’s secular laws allow sentences of up to 14 years imprisonment for homosexuality, be it male or female same-sex sexual activity, public displays of affection, or attempts to marry a same-sex partner. In 12 states, Muslim citizens (and those who have “voluntarily consented” to follow sharia courts) are subject to the death by stoning sentence.
If the sentence is carried out, the victims will be made to stand or kneel in a shallow pit, and an organized crowd will throw stones at them until they die of blunt-force injuries. In a ‘merciful’ execution, one very large stone will be dropped by two or more people directly on the back of the subject’s head.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with more than 200 million people in a space about twice the size of California. While on paper, sharia law is supposed to only apply to the Muslim members of the population, religious police effect the majority of all law enforcement.