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Court adjourns case of 47 men on trial for alleged homosexuality

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After months of delays, Nigerian prosecutors began presenting their evidence against 47 men charged with public displays of affection with members of the same sex but asked for an adjournment after calling one witness.

Prosecution lawyer Ilyas Abdulrahman said their lead witness, the police inspector who led the raid in which the men were arrested, would appear on Wednesday.

The trial in Lagos is seen as a test case for a law that criminalises homosexuality, which is outlawed in many socially conservative African societies where some religious groups brand it a corrupting Western import.

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On Tuesday the prosecution called police Inspector Ade Adegboye, who said he knew three of the defendants from his “anti-cultism” work. He declined to answer questions from the defence and said nothing regarding the charges against the men, who face up to 10 years in jail if convicted.

The men were arrested in a police raid on a hotel in the Egbeda district of Lagos in August 2018. Police said they were being “initiated” into a gay club, but the accused said they were attending a birthday party.

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Their case is seen as a test for a Nigerian law that bans gay marriage, punishable by a 14-year jail term, and same-sex “amorous relationships”.

The law caused an international outcry when it came into force in 2014. Nobody has yet been convicted under the law, prosecution and defence lawyers in the case have previously told Reuters.

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The trial was previously adjourned twice without opening remarks because the prosecution did not bring its witnesses to court.

Crime

Amotekun arrests Chinese nationals for illegal mining

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Not less than three Chinese nationals, suspected to be illegal miners in Osun have been apprehended by the Western Nigeria Security Network, code-named: ‘Amotekun Corps.’

20 locals were also arrested by the Corps during a sting operation led by its Director-General, Amitolu Shittu, who stormed Ido-oko, an agrarian community in the Ilesa axis.

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It was also gathered that the sting operation was a follow-up on an intelligence report, which indicated that illegal mining activities were being carried out within the community.

Those Nigerians rounded up at the site include 16 northerners and four southerners, as a serving senator in the state, Francis Fadahaunsi was allegedly fingered in the sabotage, through an Abuja-based businessman, popularly known as Eng. Paul.

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The Amotekun boss later handed over the three Chinese Nationals to Commissioner of Police, Undie Adie, late Thursday night.

Newsmen learned that the Chinese Nationals were later moved to the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) in the Command.

Meanwhile, as at the time of filing this report, the Chinese Nationals were yet to produce their working permit and other documents requested by the Police.

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Speaking with the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Yemisi Opalola, she said the case has been forwarded to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), adding that investigation has earnestly commenced.

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Police killed five suspects, shot three others in my presence, alleges man arrested over Offa robbery

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Offa bank robbery suspects

A suspected armed robber, Salawudeen Azeez, on Friday narrated how policemen allegedly shot dead six suspects in his presence to coerce him into admitting he participated in the 5 April 2018 robbery incident in Kwara State.

Azeez also told the State High Court in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara state, that the police shot three others in the legs ad threatened similar fate awaited him if he did not role in the robbery incident that left 18 people, including policemen, dead.

He dismissed his confessional statement has extracted from him under duress and with threats to his life while under interrogation.

All the accused persons, Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salahudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran, were present in court.

Azeez, the fourth defendant, had said earlier during cross-examination in the trial within trial:

“That same day, Inspector Hassan directed Officer Vincent to go and bring five people from somewhere. They asked me to watch what they would do to the five persons and that they would do the same to me if I didn’t cooperate with them.

“They killed the five persons in my presence. They also shot Akinnibosun, Adeola and Ogunleye in the legs in my presence. They threatened to kill me but I started begging that I didn’t do anything wrong.

“They said Ogunleye and I robbed in Offa and I denied this, but they insisted. They beat me mercilessly inside a generator house otherwise called theatre.

“It is a lie that they interrogated me in a conducive environment.

“On the second day, I was brought out again from the cell. They showed a man to me and asked me whether I knew him. The man is Michael Adikwu. I said I didn’t know him.

“They also asked him whether he knows me but he said no. They killed him in my presence.

“I pleaded with them not to kill me because my children are still young.

“They tied me down and hung me again. I then asked them what they wanted from me when the torture became unbearable.”

Salawu further claimed that he was forced to thumbprint a statement already prepared by the police against his consent.

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This was even as defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe, prayed the court to order the exhumation of the corpse of a principal suspect in the robbery, Michael Adikwu, who allegedly died in police custody in Abuja.

This, he said, was necessary to determine whether the cause of Adikwu’s death was natural or otherwise.

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He said that attempts by the prosecution to impress it on the court that there are only five suspects in the case amount to suppression of facts.

He recalled that when the case first came up in October 2018, six suspects were listed on the charge sheet, including Michael Adikwu, who the police later claimed to have died in their custody.

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Mr. Emeribe, therefore, urged the court not to rely on the confessional statements of the suspects.

He added that the contradictions in the evidence of prosecution “are not witnesses of truth,” urging “the court to hold that the prosecution is lying.”

But prosecution counsel, Prof Abdulwahab Egbewole (SAN), said that contradictions in the dates when the suspects claimed they were interrogated and the police records showed that they were only cooking up stories about their alleged torture and coercion.

He, therefore, urged the court not to admit the confessional statements by the suspects.

The presiding judge, Justice Haleema Salman, adjourned the case to July 22.

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Troops eliminate bandits, recover cache of arms in Taraba

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The Defence Headquarters says the troops of “Operation Whirl Stroke,” on Friday, eliminated two notorious bandits who had been attacking communities in Benue and Taraba.

The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, in a statement on Saturday, said the success was a result of the troops’ aggressive clearance operations in the states.

Enenche said the operation was sequel to actionable intelligence on the infiltration of armed herdsmen on July 10 at Chambe community in Logo Local Government Area of Benue where two villagers were killed.

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He said the troops, swiftly deployed to the scene, adding that the bandits had fled the area before their arrival.

According to him, troops tracked the assailants to a makeshift camp at the outskirt of Arufu in neighbouring Taraba.

“On sighting the troops, the armed bandits opened fire, troops overwhelmed the criminals with high-intensity fire, killing two of them while others fled in disarray with gunshots wounds.

“In the process one AK 47 rifle as well as 10 rounds of 7.62mm Special were recovered.

“Additionally, the gallant troops have dominated the area conducting clearance patrol from Arufu to Akwana in order to rid the general area of any untoward activities.

“The High Command of the Armed Forces of Nigeria congratulates the gallant troops for their dexterity and encourages them to remain resolute in curtailing the activities of criminal elements in the North-Central Zone of the country,” he said.

NAN

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