By Kola Ogundipe:
The Nigerian Constitution guarantees the right to life and the right to respect the dignity of the person including the right not to be subjected to torture. International conventions ratified by Nigeria, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations (U.N.) Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, also prohibit the use of torture.
Despite these commitments and obligations by the Government of Nigeria, Human Rights Watch’s research shows a clear pattern of widespread torture of suspects in police custody, sometimes resulting in the victim’s death. The experiences of the death of gay men in police custody in Enugu, Lagos and Kano last month coupled with information from local human rights groups, suggested that the use of torture by the police was routine. During interviews with Human Rights Watch, local NGOs, lawyers and prison officials report little improvement in the treatment of criminal suspects by the police or the reduction of torture since the end of military rule in 1999.
In the letter titled: Gross Abuse Of Human Rights Through A Homophobic Attack On Three Men In Ekwe Area of Imo State, Aborisade condemned the “inhuman treatment” meted out to the men and said being homosexual does not give others the license to trample on their rights.
Blank news correspondent in an exclusive interview in Sagamu reported a case of Abdullahi Oluwatosin Soneye, born in Sagamu, Ogun state. The 28 years old Abdullahi was a victim of torture and inhuman treatment due to his sexual orientation.
The said Abdullahi was having nice time with his partner in his partner’s room when his brother bumped into them and raised alarm. Neighbours and passers by came in, took laws into their hands, beat them up but he found his way to escape that day.
The following morning when he was planning to runaway from the town, about nine men came into his father’s house and kidnapped him to an unknown destination.
His unconscious body were found in a nearby bush the next day before a good Samaritan rushed him to the hospital. Our correspondent also gathered that some anonymous youths in the community boasted that they wanted to show him a lesson that homosexuality is alien to their society and that whoever involves in it should be tortured to death. The extent of torture involved hitting him with sticks, bottles, cutlasses and axe, pushing sticks into their anus etc.
Blank news correspondent also gathered from Abdullahi’s family that his father discharged him from the hospital after 3 weeks in the hospital and took him to a safe place for fear of being attacked or killed all in the name of his sexual orientation.
There were reports that he fled to the United Kingdom by the effort of his parents where his homosexuality will be accepted.
When our correspondent contacted the DPO of the local police station, we were astonished that though the police were aware of the incident but they kept quiet as the police chief claimed homosexuality is criminal.
While acknowledging that several Nigerians find the practice of homosexuality strange and unnatural, we also realize that it does not confer a license to trample on the rights of people who engages in it, with the sort of inhuman treatment that was meted out to these men.
So many informed commentators, including Nobel Prize winner, Prof Wole Soyinka have commented on the scientifically proven fact that more than anything, gays are just victims of biology. According to the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, 97 percent of Nigerian residents believe that homosexuality is a way of life that society should not accept, which was the second-highest rate of non-acceptance in the 45 countries surveyed. Nigeria has been widely criticized by human and civil rights organizations, as well as the United Nations, for failing to uphold, and even violating, the rights of LGBT people.