Former Governor Donald Duke of Cross River State is in damage control mode after his recent statement on same-sex relationship was seen as an endorsement of homosexuality.
Speaking on the web TV show, On the Couch, anchored by Falz and Laila Johnson-Salami, the 56-year-old presidential aspirant had said that he would not criminalise homosexuality as long as it is not exhibited publicly.
“I don’t understand the emotional feelings a gay person would have of their sexuality. I don’t understand it but I will not criminalise them. I will ensure that they have the protection of the law,” he had said.
The statement did not go down well with many Nigerians who have strong views against homosexuality.
Not wanting to let that hurt his political ambition, Duke went on Instagram on Sunday to clarify what he really meant.
“Recently, a statement I made during an interview concerning gay rights and homosexuality has been construed as my affirmation of homosexuality and same-sex marriage,” he said.
“Nothing is further from the truth. Homosexuality is a crime in Nigeria and ought to remain so.
“What I however did say is that I would not go seeking homosexuals for prosecution as this is liable to abuses and as such would rather not delve into the sexuality of an individual.
“For the avoidance of doubt, our law on homosexuality stands in fact and in my moral rectitude,” he wrote.
The maximum punishment for homosexuality in the 12 northern Nigeria states that have adopted Sharia law is death by stoning.
That law applies to all Muslims and to those who have voluntarily consented to application of the Sharia courts.
In southern Nigeria and under the secular criminal laws of northern Nigeria, the maximum punishment for same-sex sexual activity is 14 years’ imprisonment.