Nigerian court remands dozens in prison over alleged gay wedding

By Tife Owolabi

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - More than 60 people arrested last week in Nigeria in connection with an alleged gay wedding, which is illegal in the country, have been remanded in prison, the police and their lawyer said on Monday.

The court granted a remand request from the police following a hearing on Monday in the southern city of Warri in Delta state, where the suspects were arrested following a tipoff.

“The suspects have been arraigned in court today and the judge has ruled that they be remanded in prison for two weeks," Delta state police said in a statement. It did not say how many had been remanded, but police last week said 67 people had been arrested.

In Nigeria, like in most parts of Africa, homosexuality is generally viewed as unacceptable, and a 2014 anti-gay law took effect despite international condemnation.

Defence lawyer Ochuko Ohimor, who is representing 60 suspects, said that while the next hearing will come up on Sept 18, he is working to get bail for the suspects.

He put the total number of those remanded at 69, adding they are facing charges connected to allegations that they were celebrating a gay wedding.

"All we are doing now is to bring up bail applications on their behalf... if it is found meritorious it (the court) can admit them to bail. The bail application can come before the expiration of the 14-day remand order," he said.

The anti-gay law in Africa's most populous nation includes a prison term of up to 14 years for those convicted, and bans gay marriage, same-sex relationships, and membership of gay rights groups.

(Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo, Editing by William Maclean)