Nigerian police extort money from man they claim is gay

Nigerian police logo
Nigerian police logo

Ikechukwu, a young Nigerian man, was harassed, threatened and accused of homosexuality by officers of the Nigerian police force, who later extorted money from him.

The incident demonstrates that Nigerian police have interpreted the country’s anti-gay law as an authorization to extort money from innocent Nigerian citizens.

The victim told the NoStrings podcast that, about two weeks ago, he was walking with a friend around Festac town in Lagos when he was approached by police officers who stopped them for interrogation. They then took  his phone, went through its contents, and accused him of homosexuality.

The police later took him into custody, detaining him for five days before they asked him to pay the sum of 105,000 Naira (about US$375) or face homosexuality charges.

Ikechukwu (a pseudonym used here to protect the victim’s identity) couldn’t afford the requested amount, so he agreed to face the charges in court.

The charges were filed, but later were withdrawn by the police after they collected a smaller amount of money from Ikechukwu.

In this incident, police violated several laws. It is unlawful for police to detain an individual for more than 24 hours, ask for bribe, or access the contents of a person’s mobile phone without a warrant.

Police Inspector General Solomon Arase (Photo courtesy of PremiumTimesNG.com_
Police Inspector General Solomon Arase (Photo courtesy of PremiumTimesNG.com_

In a 2015 statement, Solomon Arase, the Nigerian inspector-general of police, warned police officers to desist from indiscriminate checking of personal information on mobile phones of members of the public.

He also reminded officers to ensure the protection of citizens’ rights to privacy and family life as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.Section 37 of the constitution states, “The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations is hereby guaranteed and protected.”

Clearly, Ikechukwu’s right to privacy has been violated.

This is a classic case of a human rights violation. The inspector general of the Nigerian police force should respond by warning police to behave and by penalizing the offending officers.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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