Congratulations, thanks and cheers are pouring in for Nigerian LGBTI rights activist Ifeanyi Orazulike and his attorney, Mike Enahoro Ebah, who won a lawsuit against Nigerian police for violating Orazulike’s constitutional rights by arresting and detaining him in 2014. No charges were filed against him.
The Federal High Court ordered Nigerian police to apologize publicly to Orazulike in two national newspapers and to pay him 1 million naira (about $5,000).
Orazulike, the executive director of the Abuja-based International Center for Advocacy on the Rights to Health (ICARH), was arrested at 11 p.m. on the night of Oct. 22, 2014, at the ICARH office while celebrating his birthday with friends, well wishers and staff members, the O-blog-dee blog reported.
Orazulike is an internationally known activist — a board member of African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), secretary of the board of the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF), and a former fellow in the Human Rights Advocate Program at Columbia University.
Orazulike told the court that the raid and his detention were humiliating and dehumanizing. In an affidavit he described the raid:
“I saw men and women of the Nigeria Police Force, about fifteen (15) of them, armed with guns and what seem like bullet proof vest, maneuvered their way into the office premises, despite the fact that the gate was closed and manned by security staff. …
“I was told that they had come to arrest me on the instruction of the commissioner of police and nothing further was volunteered …”
Orazulike also said that police searched the office without a warrant, wrecked it, and removed items that had been donated by USAID.
He said that one of the police tried to solicit a bribe from him in exchange for his release. Orazulike refused and told the policeman he would rather go on to handle this in a court of law. That answer was met with a severe slap to his face, which knocked him to the ground, O-blog-dee reported.
Anglo-Nigerian activist the Rev. Jide Macauley, who said he was “pleasantly encouraged by the case and its success,” praised Ebah for pursuing the case and winning it:
“There is no doubt that this gives the LGBT community in Nigeria more scope and opportunity within the justice system. I am also immensely grateful to Mike Enahoro Ebah, for sticking out his entire career to defend an already stigmatised, rejected and condemned citizens of Nigeria, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people are also humans and citizens of the nation. Where many have avoided the pain, you took charge.”
“Before now, I have not thought of the Nigerian court rooms as a place where LGBTIA rights could stand, be heard and protected, at least for now. But you have shamed my pessimism. And I’m all the more blessed for it, we are all blessed for it.
“I know that the Nigerian LGBTIA rights battle is far from being over. I know that not all the violations will get to court. But the ones that must, must. I have a role model in you sir. And I hope to learn more as time advances. You have just proven to me more that Nigeria is a place where anything and anyone can happen.
“You remind me of a thought that haunted me years back: an activist is not activist for his gifts, opportunities or compliance with the ethics of human rights, but for his stubbornness, resilience and resolution to cross most of the lines. You have crossed this line. This means that we have crossed. This means that we can cross.”
- Nigerian Human Rights Activist Brings Lawsuit After Unlawful Detention (November 2014, O-blog-dee)
- Nigerian activist sues over arrestNovember 2014, 76crimes.com)