The Nigerian Police have arrested 21 young men under the age of 25 for allegedly belonging to a gay cult.
The men were arrested in Ibadan, Oyo State last week after allegedly being caught at a birthday party with about 122 condoms.
Although the organizer of the event claimed that it was just a birthday party, the policemen accused them of holding an initiation into an ‘evil gay cult’ after the discovery of 122 condoms and the absence of females.
The policemen said that they had received a tip off claiming that the occupants of the room were gay.
The police also said that the absence of females corroborated with the claim of their informant that it was indeed a gay cult.
Homosexuality and Lesbianism are illegal in Nigeria and carry a penalty of 14 years under the Same Sex Marriage Act.
A human rights organisation, The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER) spoke out against the arrest of the young men after receiving a call on Sunday, May 10, 2015.
“At the point of arrest, the young men were physically assaulted and treated in a manner unbecoming of any legal process: they were photographed in their underwear, made to write statements under duress and locked up in an overcrowded cell,” the spokesman of the organization said.
The police at the outset, it is reported, refused to grant the young men bail and were prepared to transfer the case to the state courts until the intervention of a lawyer from the International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights (INCRESE).
They were granted different bail notices from N5,000 to N10,000. The organiser of the party had to pay N21,000.
In spite of the way they were treated, and the seeming support of the Sexual Rights group, the arrested young men refused to appeal against the treatment on order to prevent being branded as gay.
Reports revealed that 11 out of the 21 had been bailed by their family and friends, while 10 were left in detention. INCRESE however provided funds for bail for the remaining 10 detainees and took them to a safe house.
The 21 claimed that the police further extorted money from each of them when they all returned to the police station on May 14, 2015 before they were allowed to leave.
“It is obvious that there is a need to create more public awareness and the need for victims to take up cases with solid support of the movement. Without this, cases like this will continue to occur with limited or no option for proper adjudication for justice”, the TIER spokesman said.