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 is no going back.
The signed bill says the gays in Nigeria will however 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.
Investigation by our correspondent showed that the President assented to the Act on January 7, 2014.
The assent note, obtained by our correspondent yesterday, reads in part: “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.”
A reliable source said: “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.”
The details of the new Act was obtained yesterday by our correspondent.
The Act reads in part: “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.
“A marriage contract or civil union entered into between persons of same sex by virtue of a certificate issued by a foreign country is void in Nigeria, and any benefit accruing there-from by virtue of the certificate shall not be enforced by any court of law.
“A marriage contract or civil union entered into between persons of same sex shall not be sole nixed in a church, mosque or any other place of worship of Nigeria.
“No certificate issued to persons of same sex in a marriage or civil union shall be valid in Nigeria. Only a marriage contracted between a man and a woman shall be recognized as valid in Nigeria.
“The registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, their sustenance, processions and meetings is prohibited.
“The public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly is prohibited.”
The Act also provides details of the sanctions awaiting the violators of the new law.
It adds: “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.”