While a number of media reports say that a state visit by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been cancelled because of an anti-gay law he recently signed, Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs says "no visit is scheduled."
"As Commonwealth partners, Canada and Nigeria enjoy a shared interest in expanding opportunities for economic, social and security cooperation between our two countries. No visit is scheduled. However, we look forward to the opportunity of welcoming President Jonathan to Canada at a future date," reads the Foreign Affairs statement sent to Xtra by email.
When Xtra asks if there was ever a visit planned for February and then cancelled, as suggested in a Nigerian Monitor report, the same statement is re-sent.
The Nigerian Monitor
report cites unspecified sources in the capital city, Abuja, as saying that the African country's high commissioner to Canada, Ojo Uma Maduekwe, was allegedly told to advise Jonathan that his visit in February was cancelled. Pink News also reported
that the visit was cancelled, adding that Jonathan's media advisor, Dr Reuben Abati, indicated there would be a response from Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Ministry on the matter.
With the signing of the anti-gay measure into law came reports that dozens of people are being arrested
in states in both the north and south of the country. Last week, a man in the northern state of Bauchi received 20 lashes after an Islamic court found him guilty of breaking laws against homosexuality, acts he reportedly committed seven years ago, the BBC reports
According to the provisions of the law that Jonathan recently signed, anyone who "registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisation, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and is liable to conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.” It also makes it an offence to support “the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies and organisations, processions or meetings in Nigeria," the sentence for which is 10 years upon conviction. Anyone who enters into marriage with a person of the same sex faces up to 14 years in prison, and those who witness, perform or aid the solemnization of a gay marriage face a 10-year prison term.