The arrest and parade of about 100 suspected gay men arrested during a wedding party in Delta State has sparked mixed reactions among concerned Nigerians, opinion leaders and human rights groups.
DAILY POST recalls that on Monday, men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Delta State Command, announced the arrest of over 100 suspected gay men.
According to the Delta police spokesperson, DSP Bright Edafe, the arrest was made after they got a tip-off about the wedding ceremony and raided the hotel where the event was taking place.
In the parade, some of the suspected gay men whose names were not given, and who all look to be in their 20s and early 30s denied being homosexuals.
Three of the suspects, while fielding questions from journalists, claimed that they were models and fashion designers attending an All-White and Award party.
One of the suspects, who was dressed as a female, said he was a model, while another said he was an ambassador and was invited to the event as a guest. The third suspect identified himself as a fashion designer who was showcasing his outfit at the event.
“I am a model, I came for an event in Warri here for a fashion show and while I was going for an event and I wanted to perform on stage for the modelling event, on my way going to the event, some police people attacked me and took me to the police station. I dressed as a female because I was a model, and I wanted to perform on stage. I did not dress at the venue because the venue was occupied and I had to lodge in another hotel close to the hotel.
“I don’t know if cross-dressing is an offence or if it is against the constitution of the land. I am not gay, the event was an all-white party,” one of the suspects said.
It is unclear what charges the men are facing, but homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria which carries a 14-year prison sentence if found guilty.
And while some members of the public are applauding the arrest, others are condemning it as a violation of human rights.
The video of the parade which went viral on social media sparked polarised outrage and mixed reactions.
Advocates for the arrest contend that homosexuality conflicts with Nigerian cultural and traditional beliefs. They assert that the two men should be penalised for their alleged conduct and that the government is merely enforcing the legal system.
They argue that the police’s action against the suspected gay men was necessary to not only uphold societal norms and values but to also curb the spate of criminality festering among today’s youths.
The supporters who spoke to DAILY POST claimed that it should serve as a deterrent and a strong statement on the societal stance against immoral behaviour in the country.
For Onyeka Ani, a psychologist, who applauded the arrest of the suspected gay men, he urged parents to be alert in protecting their boy child.
He said the guy suspects need mental treatment and reorientation.
“Gayism seems to be the latest trend in our society now. The gay wedding, said to have been disrupted by the police in Delta State, raised a lot of questions. Because I have been wondering who their officiating ministers are. Does that mean they have their churches, with pastors?
“In as much as I know that these people are not Nigeria’s economic problem, I believe they’re constituting societal menace. They should be arrested.
“ How can a man say he now wants to be a woman and start wearing makeup and dressing in women’s attire? It is disturbing to the psyche; people like that need psychological help.
“Our society must realise that gone are the days when mothers were tasked to be more careful in raising their daughters so they don’t spoil or fall victim to street vices. With what is happening around us now, we must ensure equal attention to our male children.
“I remember those days when mothers would give their male children free hands to go out and mingle with their friends ‘cos men don’t get pregnant, but the girls will be asked to stay at home so they don’t make mistakes and bring unwanted pregnancies to their families.
“These days, the reverse seems to be the case as young boys are recruited and groomed to become gays by their friends. You see a group of boys and think they’re best friends but you’ll never know that they’re into deep negative behaviours and activities.
“Some of these homosexuals are all over social media promoting gayism under the guise of skit-making and content creation. So let’s give our male children equal home training and proper upbringing that is rooted in high moral standards,” Ani added.
Also, Clarence Adebowale, a journalist, described the development as ‘disturbing’, adding that it requires immediate spiritual assistance.
He said, “The arrest of 100 suspected gay men in Delta is a very disgusting and disturbing development. I don’t think this is about psychological treatment, I think this calls for spiritual intervention.
“I am more shocked that some people and groups are criticising instead of praising the police officers for exposing this societal mess. So for me, I have come to believe that these evil acts are a sign that we are approaching the end times”.
Mrs Joyce Agozi, an accountant, affirmed that the arrest of the suspected gay men is plausible.
“I am shocked that 100 men in Delta were arrested for homosexuality.
“This is exactly why there is scarcity of husbands even when we have men everywhere in the community. Most times I wonder why men would choose not to be attracted to women.
“Could it be that they are trying to avert marital responsibilities? Just look at men who have turned themselves into sodomites. Just look at the youths of my country. Please nobody should condemn the police for exposing the level of rot in our society,” she said.
Another respondent, Festus Motunrayo, a legal practitioner, called on the police to ensure due diligence in the prosecution of the arrested gay men.
“This same sex wedding is total madness. And I hope the police have got enough evidence before charging the suspected gay men in court. They must be able to prove Sodomy before charging these men to court because if not, the whole raid and parade would just be an effort in futility,” he cautioned.
Even with this outpour of support for the police, others are calling for the immediate release of the suspected gay men, tagging the arrest as a ‘misplacement of priority’ and ‘hypocrisy’ by the Nigeria police.
Popular rights group Amnesty International, while condemning the arrest, called for the immediate release of the suspected gay men.
In a statement issued on Tuesday via its X handle, the group called on the Nigerian government to respect the rights of all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation.
The post read, “Amnesty International is calling on the Nigeria’s Delta State police command to immediately release the over 100 men, arrested and paraded to the media, over allegedly organizing gay marriage and put an immediate end to this witch-hunt.
“The arrests violate a range of human rights and discriminate based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
“In a society where corruption is rampant, the law banning same-sex relationships is increasingly being used for harassment, extortion and blackmail of people by law enforcement officers and other members of the public. This is unacceptable.
“Delta State police command claimed the men were arrested for allegedly planning same-sex marriage. It is mind-boggling that the mere act of dressing style, hair or sitting in a pair can assume criminal proportions.”
Another rights group, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) also criticised the public parade of the suspected gay men, calling it an ‘abuse of due process and double standards’.
In the statement signed by RULAAC executive director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, and obtained by DAILY POST, the group acknowledged that homosexual relationships are criminalised.
It, however, faulted the police’s neglect of established legal procedures for the treatment of persons accused of crime.
Nwanguma argued that persons accused of committing any offence under the law are entitled to be presumed innocent until they are found guilty following a fair trial in a court of competent jurisdiction.
He stressed that suspects are entitled to be treated with dignity.
“The point has been made repeatedly that parading suspects before the media is illegal, unconstitutional and prejudicial to fair hearing and fair trial.
“It is an illegal and unprofessional law enforcement method that violates human dignity and subverts the Constitutional right to presumption of innocence.
“It amounts to convicting the suspects without trial. We condemn the abuse of legally established procedures for handling crime suspects by parading the gay suspects before the media thereby flagrantly violating their due process rights,” the group stated.
Also, Nollywood veteran actress, Georgina Onuoha berated the police for the arrest of the young men.
She called on the police to leave gay people alone, stressing that they should focus their investigations on politicians and pastors responsible for the anger and poverty ravaging the country.
Onuoha said, “Leave these people alone. They did not kill, steal or harm anyone. They are not the cause of Nigeria’s demise and predicaments. Let them live their lives.
“You that are busy committing fraud, sleeping around with married men and women, lying, etc, you are no better than these folks living their lives.
“Until many of you work in the medical field and understand the mechanisms behind sexual orientation, you will continue to live by the preachings of hate many con artists who call themselves pastors have poured into you as preachings.
“I laugh at the stupidity of some Nigerians who still believe that sin has categories and being ‘gay’ is the worst of them. You are only deceiving yourself. In the eyes of God, sin is sin and many of you indulge in worst sins.
“I have a poignant question for you Nigerians. Do you think God will give you a trophy if you harm or kill any of these people he created in his image and likeness? You will be hailed for committing murder? And you think God will welcome you with his open arms?
“What most of you practise is not Christianity. You are practising hate and bigotry.
“If for any reason you think this is a ‘western culture’ being brought to Nigeria, then you are the most ignorant of them all.
“Hold your politicians and pastors accountable for the anger and poverty you are facing and leave these people alone to live in peace.
“This is not an endorsement of how they live their lives, rather this is about their humanity. Let them be.”