…As Advocacy Group Accuses Security Agents of Rights Abuses in the targeting of Gays and Lesbians.
The efforts by Security Agents to enforce the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2014 in Nigeria have assumed a dangerous dimension as persons suspected to be Lesbians and Gays are daily being rounded up in locations across Asaba Metropolis, ASABAMETRO investigation can report.
The crackdown which has heightened with the recent enactment of the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2014 has been condemned by Rights advocates. In a chat with our correspondent, a gay rights activist, Mr. Philips Nonso Davidson narrated his ordeal in the hands of security agents and irate mobs since the coming into effect of the law.
Speaking, Mr. Philips Nonso Davidson said, “the victimization that the LGBT community suffers in silence across the nation is worse than apartheid and indeed, heart wrenching. Although this disdainful attitude has always been there, it escalated quickly and assumed a frightening dimension since the promulgation of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in 2014. The Nigerian government has clearly demonstrated its hatred for its citizens by declaring war against anyone suspected of being Gay. Gays whose fundamental rights are trampled upon are forced to suffer in silence.”
“A very sad event earlier this year, in March when I was in Bauchi State is a bitter experience never to be forgotten. Some Muslim youths in the community where I was staying began to suspect my sexuality as I did not have any girlfriend. They later got to know that I was gay and that was the beginning of my peril. In March of that year, my partner (name withheld) visited me at my apartment and was spotted by the youths who violently attacked my apartment in the middle of the night. I escaped into a nearby house belonging to one Mr. Nasir Ahmed who we all called Baba Twins, before the youths went ahead and razed down my apartment. My partner who did not know his way around, was not so lucky as the youths dragged him outside and stoned him, hit him with sticks, cudgels and iron rods until his collapse and eventual death. Even after he died, the youths still dragged his corpse along the bush path into a sewage tank. The youths later returned and saw me as I hid in my neighbor’s house, they attacked Baba Twins before dragging me outside. The youths strip me naked and gathered car tyres to set me ablaze and so, lynch me. It was at this point that someone I presumed to be their leader appearing to command some respect, suggested that I should instead be reported to the Police.”
Continuing, Mr. Davidson stated that when he was taken to the Police Station, the officers on duty made jest of him upon learning that he was gay. He was then detained for six days before he was released on Police administrative bail.
Mr. Davidson then immediately left Bauchi State and relocated to Asaba in Delta State all in the bid to escape from a hostile environment where Islamic fanaticism which is rampant in Northern Nigeria and the Federal legislation which proscribed the practice of homosexuality were ranged against him. Little did he know what was in stock for him at Asaba was no better.
As the leader of an unregistered LGBT advocacy network, Mr. Philips Nonso Davidson with his team of volunteers embarked on several engagements with relevant stakeholders on the need to treat the LGBT community with respect and as persons entitled to the fundamental rights as contained in the constitution. These engagements brought him into close interactions with several members of the LGBT community. On one of such engagements held at the Delta Park Hotel Asaba, over 100 members of the LGBT community including Mr. Davidson, were rounded up and locked up in cells with hardened criminals.
Davidson narrated that he had gone to the birthday party to meet with fellow Gays to educate them on their rights. “The session was so engaging as people were free to speak up on several abuses they had suffered for being gays and lesbians. It was while we were about to round off the question and answer section that the Police swooped on us. All efforts to explain ourselves were rebuffed. We were then loaded into awaiting vans and taken to the Police station where we were asked to sign and endorse already written statements admitting to being gay and having anal sex. There was nothing like that. The Police allegedly acting a script rushed to feed the public with that concocted story.”
“We were treated like unwanted creatures less than humans. Some of our family members and friends did not show up to secure our bail. It was indeed a harrowing experience which no one should pass through twice.”
“It took the intervention of the Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa [IDONWA], a regional network of human rights activists and other individuals (names withheld), to ensure the release of the LGBT community members after 4 days in detention.”
In a statement by the Network issued on June 26 2018 and signed by its Executive Director, Davis Mac-Iyalla, it expressed its worry over the “incessant arrest and extortion of young people in Nigeria, by Police personnel and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad popularly known as SARS. On June 9, 2018, the Network got a report from its Country Champion that about 100 young people who had gone to celebrate the birthday of another young person in Asaba, Delta State of Nigeria were arrested by a team of Policemen who claim they were acting on Orders.”
It would be recalled that the LGBT advocacy group led by Mr. Davidson as well as other LGBT groups has severally been denied a legal framework to function by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) pursuant to the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act.
It is also not an option for the LGBT community to take legal action to enforce their fundamental rights which are daily being infringed upon by state and non-state actors. A legal practitioner, Barrister Israel Dankwa while confirming this position lamented that the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act has become a cover for a lot of criminality and rights abuses for which the abused can neither lift a finger nor raise a voice.
Chibuzor, a younger brother to Mr. Philips Nonso Davidson while confirming the report, informed ASABAMETRO that his family members including his aged mother have had their own share of harassment by the Police. In his words, Chibuzor expressed his concern for the safety of his elder brother, “We are worried about his life if he comes back and they arrest him. Nobody has heard about some of his colleagues that were arrested and that is our fear”.
Concluding, Mr. Davidson told our correspondent that after the Asaba incident, the Police stormed his residence in a bid to arrest him again for what they termed as unlawful incitement owing to his advocacy work. Unable to find him, they broke into his apartment and made away with several documents and cash and other personal effects. He stated that he is aware that he has been declared a wanted person and there is now an ongoing manhunt for himself and other LGBT community members.