Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali yesterday expressed displeasure with the mounting pressure being exerted on Nigeria by the United Nations (UN) to reverse the anti-gay law.
Wali, receiving the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, in his office in Abuja, told her that gay rights were contrary to the culture and religious values of Nigerians and it would be difficult for the people to succumb to such pressure.
He said: â€œSome of the issues that you raised are on the issue of same-sex marriage. We do not want it. It is not that we don’t have the laws against same-sex marriage. We have it in the common law, in Sharia law and customary law.
“Therefore, I think when you look at the culture of our people, 99 per cent will not accept the same-sex marriage. It is a reality.
â€œI do believe all the time this law has been there. The law is there. Holistically, we cannot assure you we can accept the same-sex marriage. There is no way we can do that. Nigeria is fundamentally a very religious society and our people cannot accept.â€
Pillay had earlier said the UN would continue to pressurise Nigeria to reverse the anti-gay law, saying that it contravenes the fundamental human rights of the people. She said she came to seek the minister’s collaboration on the issue.
Pillay also took her campaign for Nigeria to revisit the Same-sex Act to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), saying this was necessary because the law violates the Nigerian constitution, the African Charter on Human Rights and other treatises signed by the Nigerian.
She also demanded updates on the various human rights cases being prosecuted by the federal government.
She also appealed that Adoke should persuade the Edo State Government to observe the moratorium against death penalty as assented to by the Nigeria.
Although she admitted that Nigeria is leading in the fight against corruption and human trafficking, she urged the government to intensify its effort in prosecution of human rights violation cases.
“Nigeria is leading in the fight against child trafficking by putting relevant legislative in place, more resources should be deployed. We also demand update on prosecution of human rights cases and ensure that trials are carried out without delay,” she said.
Responding, Adoke explained that that the Same-sex Act was enacted as government’s intervention to prevent Nigerians from taking law into their hands.
The minister added that majority of Nigerians believed that same-sex relationship is against the country’s cultural belief and thereby should be dealt with carefully.
He added that the issue was capable of. generating uproar and bringing down the government if not well handled.
“The government had to step in with punitive measures so as to prevent citizens from taking laws into their hands. So it is a win-win situation. It is an issue that majority of the people, at the moment, do think it is contrary to our belief and cannot be tolerated. It is a very sensitive issue. Should the government toy with opinion of the vast majority of the people, it is capable of bringing down the government,” he said.
Speaking on the death penalty, Adoke said capital punishment was part of Nigeria’s law, but added that said the government would respect the order of the ECOWAS Court of Justice which granted an injunction restraining the federal government from executing condemned persons.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said the Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, has launched an investigation into the recent attack on a Nigerian, Clement Emekereo, in Cape Town, South Africa.
It said the high commission had also sent a strong-worded letter to the South African foreign affairs department, expressing its displeasure with the ugly development.