In spite of protests from some countries, groups and activists, President Goodluck Jonathan has signed into law the Bill which outlaws same sex marriage.
The assent to the bill was devoid of fanfare to reduce diplomatic tension, which it may likely attract.
Some foreign embassies were shocked by the development leading to ‘curious’ inquiries from the Federal Government. Despite the inquiries, the Federal Government said there was no going back.
The signed bill says the gays, lesbians in Nigeria will risk a 14-year jail term if they do not retrace their steps and renounce such marriage.
Also, any person who operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations directly or indirectly will earn 10-year imprisonment. Those who administer witness, abet or aid the solemnization of a same sex marriage are going to bag 10-year jail term.
The Senate previously passed the bill in November 2011. Lawmakers in Nigeria's House of Representatives affirmed the decision by the Senate on May 29, 2013.
The President assented to the Act last week, on January 7, 2014, but the details on this action have just leaked the web.
“I certify that this Bill has been carefully compared by me with the decision reached by the National Assembly and found by me to be true and correct decision of the Houses and is in accordance with the provisions of the Acts Authentication Act Cap. A2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. I assent,” The assent note read.
“The President has signed the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill into law. This has foreclosed any pressure on President Jonathan not to assent to the bill.
“We received inquiries from some foreign embassies on why the bill was signed into law. But we told them that our cultural values do not tolerate same sex marriage.
“Also, we made it clear that since most Nigerians were opposed to the bill, the parliament acted in line with the wish of the majority. We are in a democratic setting, the President has no choice than to bow to the wish of the people.
“These embassies were shocked but there is no going back. We hope they will also abide by the decision of Nigerians,” a source close the President revealed.
According to some abstracts, obtained by The Nation, the Act reads:
“A marriage contract or civil union entered into between persons of same sex: (a) is prohibited in Nigeria; and (b) shall not be recognized as entitled to the benefits of a valid marriage.
The Act also stipulates the volume of the sanctions awaiting the violators of the new law.
“A person who enters into a same sex marriage contract or civil union commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of 14 years imprisonment.
“A person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations directly or indirectly makes public show of dame sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.
“A person or group of persons who administers, witnesses, abets or aids the solemnization of a same sex marriage or civil union of supports the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organizations, processions or meetings in Nigeria commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.
“The High Court of a State or of the Federal Capital Territory shall have jurisdiction to entertain matters raiding from the breach of the provisions of this Act.”