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By Julius Gular (Delta State based freelance Reporter)
On January 7, 2014, Nigeria’s immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill (SSMPA). The bill which receive widespread condemnation across the globe because of its perceived infringement on human rights is mainly to prohibit marriage between persons of the same sex but in reality, it’s scope is much more wider. The law forbids any cohabitation between same sex sexual partners and bans any show of same sex amorous relationship. The SSMP criminizes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to a report on Wikipedia, “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nigeria face legal and social challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. LGBT rights are generally infringed upon and homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria and punishable by up to 14 years of prison in the conventional court system.”
The Wikipedia report further says “There’s no legal protection for LGBT rights in Nigeria-a largely conservative country of more than 225million people, split between a mainly Muslim North and a largely Christian South. Very few LGBT persons are open about their sexual orientation, as violence against them is frequent. Many LGBTQ Nigerians are fleeing to countries with progressive law to seek protection “
The above Report clearly depict the sickening, pathetic maltreatment faced by many LGBTQ Nigerians. They are tortured, abused & extorted by the security agents & local vigilante groups, effectively making a bad situation worse. There’s increased high level of harassment, physical violence and attacks against LGBT people in Nigeria. Prior to the enactment of the SSMPA in 2014, the general public objected to homosexuality on the basis of religious beliefs and perception of what constitutes African culture and traditions. Now, the law has become a tool by some security agents to legitimize human rights violations against LGBT people. Torture, harassment, detention, extortions , physical abuse etc is now the order of the day. There’s also the rising incident of mob attack -people gathering together and acting with a common intent of committing violence against persons based on their real or perceived sexual orientation.
In July 28, 2021, Onyema Precious Okoh from Delta State (Nigeria) was with his homosexual partner when his father, Joel Okoh walked into the apartment. On sighting them, the father fainted and was unconscious. He was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital where he was eventually confirmed dead by medical team on duty. Angered by the death of Mr. Joel Okoh, a mob quickly mobilize to Onyema Precious Okoh’s place of abode, destroying the house and vandalizing his parked vehicle at a nearby street. He was tortured, beaten but managed to escape that day. On the 10th of December, 2021 during the funeral rites of the father, Onyema Precious Okoh was yet again attacked and shot at by one of his Uncles but narrowly missed the gunshots and fled.
Onyema’s experience is commonplace in Nigeria. Many don’t even live to tell the stories. Mob jungle justice & instant killing is now the order of the day. Others are languishing in prisons, hoping and praying for intervention on their cases which may never come to pass.
Onyema Precious Okoh’s vandalized vehicle
Onyema Precious Okoh