Taiwo Oluwadare, Ibadan
A homeless man who was later identified as a returnee from Europe escaped being lynched to death by a mob in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, over suspicions that he is a homosexual.
An eyewitness account at the scene said the man was targeted and subsequently attacked by the local vigilante and some youths in the area on suspicion that he was a homosexual.
A resident of the area where the incident happened told Daily Sun that an abandoned building where the homeless man had been squatting was also a local homosexual hangout, which the police had raided on many occasions and made several arrests.
Preferring anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, the resident seemed to be in agreement with those who carried out the action on the man, saying ‘they [homosexuals] are engaged in a very devilish act that is alien to our cultural values.’
Another eyewitness who gave his name as TJ said the community leaders have been on the lookout for the homosexuals in order to deal with them ruthlessly.
When our correspondent reached out to the Chairman of the Landlord and Residents Association, he declined to comment on the matter, instead referring us to the security agencies. He said he had nothing to say because the security agencies have done what had to be done and whatever happened was not without their knowledge.
The victim of the attack was traced to the clinic where he was receiving medical attention. At the clinic, access to him was initially denied. However, our reporter identified himself and was subsequently allowed a few minutes of interaction.
The man begged to have his full name withheld for security reasons but said he can be known as L**** M**** O******. He still had bandages and plasters on him but was recovering gradually.
He spoke of the many challenges he has faced after his return to Nigeria. He said he has found it difficult re-integrating into society as many people do not want to be associated with him because they heard information from different sources that he was in a same-sex relationship.
‘Homophobia in Nigeria is real my brother. When I arrived, friends and family who would have been sympathetic to my cause simply avoided me because they claimed I am involved in what is a taboo. Nobody wanted to have nothing to do with me,’ the victim said.
The man said he has had to go from place to place in search of shelter and support but none was forthcoming.
‘I left Lagos to come to Ibadan and stay with an old friend but by the time I got here, he simply told me he could not provide shelter for me because I am homosexual,’ he told our reporter.
According to him, he had no other place to stay and only resorted to living in the abandoned property, a site of raids and attacks by residents and local security.
‘They called me culturally non-conformed. It is true that homosexual lovers came to the building to hang out because it seems a bit removed from the prying eyes of the security agencies.’
He said the people who came to spend time in the building did so because they do not want to be arrested and prosecuted, which may lead to as much as 14 years behind bars.
On how he has been coping, he said it has been difficult as he lives each day in perpetual fear of the unknown.
‘I am more or less on my own. My family do not want to have anything to do with me. My case is not helped by the fact that they are mostly radicals and have declared Jihad against me because of my sexual orientation and my new found religion. I don’t feel safe so I have to go from place to place to avoid falling victim of their bloodlust owing to our differences.’