No fewer than 57 suspected gays have been arrested by operatives of the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly gathering to conduct initiation rites in the state.
The initiation reportedly took place around 1am on Sunday, August 26, 2018, at a hotel in the Egbeda area of the state.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, said the arrest was based on intelligence from men of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps.
Imohimi said on receipt of the information, the Divisional Police Officers of the Shasha and Idimu divisions, were ordered to investigate the claim that some youths would be initiated into a “gay/homosexual club.”
He said, “The DPOs stormed the venue around 2am. On arrival, young men, numbering over 80, were met in a hall taking different types of drinks, including Tramadol and Shisha laced with substances suspected to be marijuana. As soon as they sighted the police, they ran in different directions. However, the team arrested 57 of them.
“There is something very worrisome about the arrest. Although being a gay contravenes Section 1, sub-section 1 of Same Sex Marriage Act of 2014, it is a threat to the moral fabric of our society. Even though homosexualism is an offence, arranging elaborate initiation rites for young men as homosexuals is, to say the least, very worrisome.”
The arrested suspects, however, denied the allegation, saying they were not gays.
They added that the police did not give them a chance to defend themselves.
One of the suspects, Smart Joel, said he was at the hotel to give himself a treat on his birthday.
The 25-year-old Imo State undergraduate claimed that he had a girlfriend.
He said, “I am not a member of any gay club; I have a girlfriend. I have sex with ladies.
“I had visited the venue two years ago for a wedding ceremony and I liked the environment. Saturday was my birthday. I went there to have some drinks when I noticed that a party was going on in the event hall. Around 2am, I noticed that some guys were running. I had to run because in Nigeria, when you see people running, you have to also run for your life.
“I noticed that the policemen had invaded the premises of the hotel. They gathered everyone from the bar, club and hall. I got to know that it was a birthday party that was going on there. The police did not listen to anyone.”
Another suspect, Obialo James, 20, who claimed to be HIV positive, said the police did not show any concern for his medical condition.
The Imo State indigene said, “I am not a gay; I went there to perform because I am a dancer. Is being a dancer a crime? They have been beating me so that I can say I am a gay. Even when I told them that I was HIV positive, they did not care. I contracted the disease from my mother during pregnancy. Instead, they locked me up. I have not taken my drugs today.”
Another suspect, Odika Emmanuel, 25, said he did not understand why the police separated the ladies from the men during the arrest.
“It was yesterday (Sunday) when we were writing our statement that the police told us our offences. Is that how the police operate in Lagos? I was there for a birthday party. There were a lot of ladies there,” he added.
Meanwhile, family members of one of the arrested suspects, Amaechi Edeh, said the suspect was not a gay.
Amaechi’s younger brother, Ejike, said the suspect had three girlfriends.
He said, “My brother is not such a person. We live together; he has three girlfriends that I know.”
Another 78-year-old family member, who identified himself as Ejeh, said Amaechi could never be gay.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police said all the 57 suspects were being investigated and would be charged to court at the end of investigation.