Daily Champion (Lagos)

13 December 2011

Nigeria: Same-Sex - FG Threathens to Jail U.S. Citizens

Abuja — When the Bill on same-sex marriage eventually becomes law, any United States (US) citizen who lives in Nigeria and is found guilty of the law, would be jailed, the federal government said yesterday.

Political Adviser to the President, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak told journalists yesterday in Abuja that Nigerian laws must be respected by everybody in this country and no nation, however powerful, can dictate to Nigerian the laws that are appropriate for the nation.

He said: "This is Nigerian law; it is not American law and if you are an American and you come to Nigeria, you must subject yourself to our law and if you are caught violating this law or any other law, you will be prosecuted accordingly".

He said what the United States government and citizens failed to appreciate is that Nigeria has different culture and that the law passed by the National Assembly is in consonance with the culture of Nigeria.

He said: "No community in this country supports same sex marriage. I have not had any community in Nigeria that supports gay or lesbianism or what have you. So, our laws are for our country and not for the Americans.

"If Americans like, they can go and be marrying themselves as men and women; that is their problem, that is their culture, but in Nigeria, our laws are that no same sex can marry; we have said no to same sex marriage. And if you are discovered to have done that, there is a penalty for that".

US President, Barrack Obama and the West are opposed to the passage of the anti- same sex marriage bill by the Nigerian Senate and it would be recalled that President Obama had shortly after the passage of the bill issued a Presidential Memorandum directing "all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons".

The Federal Government through its Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku in reaction to the Presidential Memo issued by Obama, last week also said Nigeria is an independent nation and so the West has no business dictating to it with regards to making laws that aim to preserve its culture and values.

Maku while also citing cultural differences also warned that Nigerian as an independent country reserves the right to make its laws without apology to other countries because "we live in a democracy and in every democracy as you know, there are institutions, there are laws and also there are cultures, there are beliefs and values."

The proposed law among other punitive measures, provided that witnesses or anyone who helps same sex couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. The bill also makes it illegal to register gay clubs or organizations, as well as criminalizing the "public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly."

Alhaji Gulak also while making his position known equally debunked claims in some quarters that government has shut its Amnesty programme on rampaging doors against Niger Deltan youths who were not initially captured in the exercise.

He said President Goodluck Jonathan will still attend to the agitating youths after the present crop of beneficiaries would have completed their programme.

He said: "Amnesty programme is on going, the programme is not a one year programme oven two years thing. It is not closed.

"You could agree with me that a time lapse was given for people to come and surrender their arms and get registered and many of them registered. So when you come after that period, you have to follow the queue.

"In fact the government gave an ultimatum, about six months for the militants to surrender their arms and get registered before they benefit from the amnesty programme. A lot of them did that and got registered.

"So few people saw that the amnesty programme is succeeding; some of the youths are being send abroad for training, there are skill acquisition centres being constructed all over the Niger Delta region. They have the reality; they have seen that the government is living to its promises; now they are coming and saying we too we are part of this.

"Where were you when the government said drop your arms and get registered? We are not saying that we are closing the door on them, no, but what we are saying is join the queue. Amnesty programme is not for government to train you and give you job, it is for self reliant, to be self employed so that you too can employ others.

"What happened last week is just that some people felt that they are being excluded; these are the people that did not heed to the pleading and warning from the government".

Alhaji Gulak also said removal of subsidy will usher a prosperous Nigeria, "a Nigeria that will not mortgage the future of our generation".

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