Earlier this year in Abuja, a statement released by the Nigerian Police tells about the arrest of certain gay couple; Addul Lawal (as the groom), and Umar Tahir (as the bride) during their marriage ceremony on February 6 including some of their wedding guests.
A certain gay witness, simply known as Mana, who lives in Jiwa community, Kaduna, shared the ordeal of his friends at the hands of the police.
“That is what they did to some of our friends in Bauchi after they were arrested, they tortured them into naming people they had come in contact with, including friends who weren’t gay.”
Mana, who used to live in Bauchi, said his name was mentioned during interrogation, but he had left town by the time police came to arrest him in 2014.
“I quickly fled as soon as I heard the police are after gay people. Those who were unfortunately arrested said they were tortured and forced to give names and phone numbers of their close friends to the police.”
Meanwhile a human-right activist, John Adeniyi, who has been following the case of Lawal and Tahir closely rejected claims by the police that a gay marriage ceremony had taken place anywhere in Abuja.
According to him, the security officials carried out the arrest in a traditional fund-raising ceremony known in the local Hausa language as Ajo – where some participants ‘socially cross-dress for the purpose of entertainment,’ not a same-sex wedding at all.
“At one point in time when a traditional music was playing and people were performing the cultural dance, police stormed the event premises and caught one of the cross-dressed participants dancing in a close range to one other person who cross-dressed alongside several other persons,” said Adeniyi, who works with the Global Initiatives for Human Rights (GIHR), a small, specialized unit within Heartland Alliance that supports the protection and promotion of human rights, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.
“The two persons presumed to be gay couple were two individuals spotted dancing in a close proximity at the cultural dance performance although one of them was cross-dressed, which was the factor that made the police come to the conclusion without adequate investigation.”
Some human-rights activists have also accused the police of arresting and detaining perceived homosexuals without cause, except for the purpose of extorting money from detainees to allow them to get out of jail.
Adeniyi said the accused ‘gay couple’ and those arrested alongside them were required to pay bribes to the police to secure their release.
“At least one lady confirmed to have paid 70,000 naira (about $350) in order to secure the bail of her girlfriend and herself, while several other people paid different amounts of money to be released from detention.”
As for Lawal and Tahir, both has been released on bail without further actions from the police.
Adeniyi said that both men were verbally assaulted, named, shamed and photographed without consent at the point of release and they now feel helpless to respond out of fear of further escalation.
Whatever the case maybe, it shows how determined the law is to hunt down and thwart all gay practices in Nigeria.