FG reaffirms its stand on Sex Marriage, death penalty, to submit formal report to the UN

By The Citizen

The Federal Government of Nigeria today reaffirmed its stance on Same Sex Marriage, adding that it will submitt formally a report on the controversial issue to the United Nations in October this year at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, said this was the decision taken at the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said the committee chaired by the Atorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, was set up and is in charge of preparing a formal report.

Nigerian Lawmakers had in May this year passed the anti-gay bill, calling for a 14 year jail sentence for same sex marriages as well as witnesses to the marriage.

'Persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract, or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison.

'Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison”, the bill says.

The bill is now waiting for Presidential assent.
The Minister said a committee had earlier been set up to work on a draft report to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the draft report was “presented to the council today and council deliberated extensively on the report”.

Maku said from the report submitted to the UN in 2009, 32 issues had been raised and Nigeria had so far dealt with 30 of them. He said Nigeria has been able to succeed in area of press freedom and women representation amongst others.

“However the issue of same sex marriage is one of two areas it was still deferring with other countries. The other issue is that of the death penalty”.

Maku said in relation to same sex marriage, there were fundamental differences “within our country and so we are trying to look into it and see what really position Nigeria will take. But definitely, the problem with same sex marriage as at now is that both sections of Nigerian society, traditional society, Muslim community, Christian community that virtually make up nearly 100 percent of the Nigerian population are still opposed to the idea of same sex marriage. And in nations, it is not easy for you to enforce a value that is strange to your own society. We believe that Nigeria should be able to work on its own position particularly that reflects both segments of the Nigerian society. So we have set up a special council committee to again look into these issues so that we can come up with a final report, which will then be forwarded to the united nations human rights council”.

The Council also approved that Nigeria to submit its Second Cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report to the United Nation’s Human Right Council.

Maku explained that every country that is a signatory presents a report every four years stating the profile of the human right situation and what government and communities are doing to promote the enforcement of universal human rights across the world.

Nigeria’s first report to the United Nations Human Rights Council was submitted in 2009 and  the second phase is already due.

On the death penalty, Maku noted that substantial progress had been made, but there were issues within “our statutes that we need to resolve and it is not only Nigeria, but even the United States and several other countries have not yet abolished death penalty. It is something to be pursued and it is also something that we need time, change in attitude, change in perceptions, and change in laws for these to become reality”.

He also added that there were still philosophical, fundamental differences of opinion on the matter of the death penalty and it was something of a national consensus.

Maku said Council also discussed on the issue of constituency projects.

He said the the Cordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance,  Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had reminded Council that N50 billion has been set aside in a separate account for that purpose and urged MDAs handling the implementation and execution of constituency projects to get ready for procurement.

This, he said is to ensure that  there is a proper monitoring of these projects.