“Sex in a car in a public place is not a crime in Nigeria provided: location is not a place of worship; parties are 18 years plus; the act is consensual…”
On Monday December 10, pictures of a young man and woman having sex in a car inside a school compound flooded the social media space.
Since then, the photographs have generated heated reactions. While many have lampooned duo for the ‘public show of shame,’ some others opine that so long as neither rape nor paedophilia was committed, the lovers could have sex wherever they wanted.
Those who saw them were said to have raised the alarm, which attracted other neighbours to the scene. The shocked neighbours embarrassed the randy partners by taking their naked pictures and sharing them almost immediately on the social media.
The viral pictures have since sparked even more debate and questions on whether the Nigerian law permits the act or not. This is not unconnected with the statement credited to the Head, Police Public Complaints, Rapid Response Unit, Mr. Abayomi Shogunle. He had reportedly said there was nothing wrong in the act.
Reacting to a question posed by one Stanley Moses through his Twitter handle @Stanley_Moses13 where he asked, “Oga, please is it a crime to have sex in your car?” The police officer had replied: “NO. Sex in a car in a public place is not a crime in Nigeria provided: location is not a place of worship; parties are 18 years plus; the act is consensual (agreed to by parties); and parties are of opposite sex.
But the Director of Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative (PRAI), Ahmed Adetola Kazeem, argued that the police officer erred in line with the provisions of the law. He maintained that sex in a car in a public place is unlawful.
He noted: “Section 134 of the Criminal Law of Lagos provides thus: Any person who: (1) willfully and without lawful excuse does any indecent act in any public place; or (2) willfully does any indecent act in any place with intent to insult of offend any person; is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for two years.
“Section 136 of the same law provides that “any person who commits any act of gross indecency with another person in public, or procures another person to commit any act of gross indecency in public with him or another person is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years.
“The fact is that sex in a car in public is likely to offend the sensibilities of passers-by and onlookers makes it criminal. Section 26 of the Violence Against Persons Act 2015 also provides that: “(1) A person who intentionally exposes his or her genital organs, or a substantial part thereof with the intention of causing distress to the other party, or that another party seeing it may be tempted or induced to commit an offense under this Act, commits an offense termed ‘indecent exposure’. Whichever way you look at it, the sex in a car in a public place is wrong.”
An Islamic scholar, Abdul Kabeer Raji said such act was clearly forbidden in Islam. The act of sex, he noted, should be hidden from the public view.
He added that people are often attracted by what their eyes see. He said Islam also warned people not to view any act of indecency, which he said the couple had promoted.
“The Quran warns anyone not to pollute the air that Allah has already perfected. It should not be encouraged by anyone. It is one aspect of the moral decadence that we are now facing in Nigeria.
“We are referred to as higher animals which lslam also supports. This means that we should be able to reason and discern between what is wrong and right. This is what lower animals cannot do. So, why will some persons reduce themselves to lower animals by making love where people can see them? Even some animals, whenever they want to have sexual intercourse, they run away from prying eyes.
“When we talk of freedom, Islam gave us freedom but it should have a boundary. This means that your freedom should not become disturbance to other people in the society. Those caught in the act succeeded in constituting public nuisance. It doesn’t matter whether they are married or not.
“Another danger is that minors can see the adults while the intercourse is being performed. And such children may want to practise what they have seen.”
A certified Cambridge Economics lecturer, Mr. Bernard Oluwaseun Ogunbi described the couple’s action as a sexual misconduct.
“It’s not morally good, Sex in the public should be condemned because younger ones will begin to believe that it’s an acceptable act and before you know it, it will be happening in all public places, including religious houses, social gatherings and the school environment,” he warned.
He spoke further: “There is no mistake about it that private parts are made private by God and even the usage should be in private, not in the public. Even sex workers don’t do it in the open because they still maintain some sense of sanity let alone a couple as in this case.
“Even if children should watch something like that, they would like to do it too, it can lead to incest, paedophilia and other corrupt tendencies. Allowing it will be counter-productive to the sex education being taught in schools,” he said.
A Kaduna-based sociologist, Mr. Emmanuel Eshiotse, noted: “It all boils down to the culture of a particular society – the way of life of the people. Sex outside the room, especially in Nigeria is seen as a ‘taboo’ or an ‘abomination’. It’s assumed that sex should be kept inside the room and not for public glare.
“Even though we are right in the modern era in relation to promoting our fundamental human rights, the cultural practices and beliefs regarding sex as a secret affair still hold sway among Nigerians. Hence, the shaming of those partners involved in the act recently.”
In a twist to the issue, the Lagos State Police Command on Wednesday discountenanced Mr. Shogunle’s position. The state Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal warned that having sex in the public, even if in a car, is a criminal offense that attracts severe punishment. The Lagos police boss warned members of the public to desist from the immoral act, asserting that anyone caught would be made to face the wrath of the Law. Edgal, who spoke through the police spokesman in the state, Chike Oti, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) noted: “The attention of the Command has been drawn to an online publication credited to @POLICENG_PCRRU to the effect that sex in a car in a public place is not a crime in Nigeria.”
CSP Oti said sequel to the development, the CP has been advised by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice and the Legal Department of the State Police Command, Panti, Yaba with relevant sections of the law that forbids having sex in the public.
According to him, Section 134 (a) Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015 prohibits any indecent act in any public place without lawful excuse, noting that the law holds that such person is liable on conviction to two years imprisonment.
“Section 136 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 provides that any person who commits any act of gross indecency with another person in public commits an offence and liable on conviction to three years imprisonment.
“It must be noted that section 134 which deals with offences against morality particularly section 134 (a) have it that indecent act in a public place makes both parties engaging in the act liable to imprisonment for two years.
“In the same vein, section 231 of the Criminal Code Act which is a federal law and applicable in states other than the Northern states where Penal Code is applicable also make indecent acts punishable.
“Going forward, the authorities of the Lagos State Police Command hereby declares that the assertion that sex in a car in a public place is not a crime in Nigeria is misplaced as the provisions of the Criminal Law of Lagos State prohibits such acts in public even if it is done with the consent of the other party,” the commissioner said.