Officers enforce a strict version of Islamic law in Kano
Islamic police in northern Nigeria’s main city arrested 19 Muslims, accusing them of attending the wedding of a same-sex couple.
The force raided the wedding ceremony in Kano after a tip-off, its spokesman Lawal Ibrahim Fagge said.
The couple, who had not yet taken their vows, managed to flee and police were looking for them, he added.
Kano has a majority Muslim population, where an Islamic legal system operates alongside secular law.
Homosexual acts are illegal in both legal systems throughout Nigeria, where those living in the north are primarily Muslim and people in the south are largely Christian.
The Kano Islamic Police Force is popularly known as the Hisbah and enforces a strict moral code.
Mr Fagge told the BBC the police force had no plans to punish the 15 male and four female wedding guests arrested during Sunday’s raid.
Instead, the group – which he said included gays and transvestites – were in the “counseling” stage, and their parents or guardians had been asked to come forward.
“We will explore the path of change before indicting them in court. We first advise them and involve the parents and hope they change their lifestyle,” said the Hisbah spokesperson.
The Islamic courts of Kano have never convicted anyone of homosexuality.
Mr Fagge said 18 people who attended a similar wedding ceremony last year were released after signing a document pledging to ‘change their lifestyle’.
Rights groups in Nigeria have long campaigned for gay rights to be respected, but there is strong opposition in a country where many Muslims and Christians uphold conservative religious values.