Police in Asaba, Delta State, Nigeria have arrested 21 students who they allege are homosexuals. We have not independently verified this report. Several agencies are reporting and it originated in PUNCH News. According to Punch News, a reliable source reported that the suspects were arrested at two state-owned polytechnics (names withheld). It is alleged that homosexual acts were were popular due to financial gain. Police Public Relations officer in the state, Celestina Kalu, confirmed the arrest of the suspects. She noted : “We had it on good authority that the male students allegedly engaged in anal sex. The suspects, upon interrogation, made useful statements to the police while investigations are ongoing.”
Given the anti-homosexuality milieu of Nigeria we have quoted the biased rhetoric used by Press there to further persecute LGBT Nigerians: HERE is the insidious reporting by PUNCH:
"It was reliably gathered that the two state-owned polytechnics (names withheld) where the suspects were arrested, were a beehive of perverse sexual acts as male students engage in same sex activities for financial gains.
Investigation revealed that homosexuality has been on the rise in the two institutions and culprits were also members of various cult groups.
Meanwhile, the police in Obiaruku have arrested the leader of a notorious cult group who allegedly had been terrorising the community in the last one year.
The cult member, it was reliably gathered, had allegedly led other members of the group to attack unsuspecting residents of the community and inflicted injuries on them.
Confirming the arrest, the state PPRO, Celestina Kalu, identified the suspect as Ikechukwu Azubuike, a 19-year-old school dropout. She said he would be charged to court on completion of investigation." ***
Nigeria is a conservative country of more than 170 million people, split between a mainly Muslim north and a largely Christian south. Very few LGBT persons are open about their orientation, and violence against LGBT people is frequent.
Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Nigeria. The maximum punishment in the twelve northern states that have adopted Shari'a law is death by stoning. That law applies to all Muslims and to those who have voluntarily consented to application of the Shari'a courts. In southern Nigeria and under the secular criminal laws of northern Nigeria, the maximum punishment for same-sex sexual activity is 14 years' imprisonment. The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act criminalises all forms of same-sex unions and same-sex marriage throughout the country.
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. By 2015 this percentage decreased to 87%. As of the same period the percentage of Nigerians who agree LGBT persons should receive education, healthcare, and housing is 30%.
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.
I would not be surprised if these charges are trumped up. The association with alleged cults is a certain way to demonize gay people through enraging the populace. One also must be concerned with the interogation techniques and the fact that often confessions and implicating others in exchange for freedom is quite common. Hopefully the young people will receive legal representation. Though often in these circumstances lawyers who help suffer danger as they also become the targets of an hostile anti-gay populace.