The judgement followed a suit filed by Pamela Adie who established the initiatives in 2017.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit challenging the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) over its refusal to register a same-sex group under the aegis of "Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives".
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba held that where the proposed name of a company or its aims and objectives are caught by the provisions of Section 30 (1) (c) of CAMA, the Respondent (CAC), is duly empowered to reject such an application for reservation of name or registration.
The judgement followed a suit filed by Pamela Adie who established the initiatives in 2017 with the aim of advocating for Nigerians who have inclination to same-sex relationship.
In her bid to legalise the group, Adie lost her appeal twice at CAC on the ground that the name of the group was misleading and contrary to public policy. She approached the court for redress following the refusal by CAC.
In the suit filed by her lawyer, Mike Enahoro-Ebah, she wrote, "Whether having regard to the express provisions of sections 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Article 10 (1) of the African Charter on Human And Peoples' Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation on Nigeria 2004, the Respondent's rejection of the registration/reservation of the Applicant's proposed name of an Association – Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives is a violation of the Applicant's right to Freedom of Association.
"Whether having regard to the express provisions of Sections 39 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), and Article 9 (2) of the African Charter on Human and People's Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Respondent's rejection of the registration/reservation of the Applicant's proposed name of an Association – 'Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives', is a violation of the Applicant's rights to freedom of expression."
Justice Dimgba, while acknowledging the right of the applicant to freedom of expression, held that "in exercising its discretion to reject the name sought to be reserved, the Respondent has not violated the right to freedom of expression since the proposed name itself is in collision with an existing and operational law".
He held that the case must must fail "so far as the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act is still much operative in Nigeria and has not been repealed".
Nigeria's anti-homosexuality law
In 2014, then-president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill (SSMPA) into law. At that time, existing legislation already criminalised consensual same-sex activities in the country.
The law forbids any cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners and bans any 'public show of same sex amorous relationship'. The law also prohibits Nigerians from registering, operating, or participating in gay clubs, societies and organisations, or supporting such activities. Punishment for violations of the provisions in the law ranges between 10 to 14 years imprisonment.
The law has been criticised for violating fundamental human rights and endorsing physical violence, aggression, arbitrary detention and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the country.