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Published On: Sat, Feb 22nd, 2014

Police Continues Hunt for Alleged Dangerous Gay Gang Leader in Lagos

news picLAGOS FEBRUARY 22ND (URHOBOTODAY) – The Nigerian police, working off a list of 168 suspects purportedly obtained through torture, are arresting dozens of gay men, human rights activists said in Lagos, Nigeria.

First the police targeted the gay men, and then they tortured them into naming dozens of others who now are being hunted down.

The men’s alleged crime is that they belong to a gay organization. The punishment will be up to 14 years in jail under the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which has elicited international condemnation for criminalizing gay marriage, gay organizations and anyone working with or promoting them.

There were varying accounts of how many arrests were made in Nigeria, and a local law enforcement official denied that anyone was tortured. Nevertheless, the aggressive police action shows that Africa’s most populous country has started enforcing anti-gay measures that are becoming increasingly common throughout the continent.

In this instance, authorities responded to an unfounded rumour that the United States had paid gay activists $20 million to promote same-sex marriage in this highly religious and conservative nation, according to an AIDS counsellor, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear that he would be arrested.

Our source also confirmed that police detained two gay men over the weekend and tortured them until they named others allegedly belonging to a gay organization. She gave no details of what she called torture, but the AIDS counsellor said the two men were brutally beaten until they gave up names.

The names are Shola Olawale Adebayo 28, Femi Amos Samuel 37, Oyebola Oladipupo Oyedeyi 43, and Okievo Tega Andrew 25, are now being hunted by the police. Dozens of homosexuals have fled the country in recent times. It is said that community members helped “fish out” the suspects and that the police are on the hunt for others.”

Nigerian law enforcers are notorious for torturing suspects to extract confessions, and when discriminatory laws like this are passed, they set the stage for violence and ill-treatment in society. But the fact that this law is being enforced so quickly and forcefully demonstrates the full extent of Nigeria’s human rights crisis.”

The new law was passed by the Nigerian Parliament and signed by the president, Goodluck Jonathan when he did so quietly and without fanfare. Jonathan’s office confirmed that the Nigerian leader had signed it.

The United States, Britain and Canada condemned the new law, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying that it “dangerously restricts freedom” of expression and association of all Nigerians.

The UN agency fighting AIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria expressed “deep concern that access to HIV services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people will be severely affected” and that the law could harm Jonathan’s own presidential initiative to fight AIDS. It also said Nigeria has the second-largest HIV epidemic globally with an estimated 3.4 million people living with the virus.

The president’s spokesman, Reuben Abati, while speaking on national television “NTA”, said this is a law that is in line with the people’s cultural and religious inclination. So it is a law that is a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people, Nigerians are pleased with it.”

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