Wednesday, 10 October 2012

If the ALUU 4 victims were gays caught in the act, would the percentage of Nigerians condemning Jungle justice drop drastically?


When I read the story of the 4 students of University of Port Harcourt that were lynched on allegation of theft, I wept for my country one more time. I have not watched the video and I do not ever intend to watch it. It is very difficult getting an online report of the story without graphic images of the victims burnt alive, Nigerian bloggers and news reporters need to understand that such violent graphics should come with a trigger warning! I am already tormented at the thought of a human being burnt alive by a sick mob; I can do without the pictures and violent video.

Following the breaking of this horrible news, many Nigerians expressed shock that such barbaric acts could still so wantonly be carried out in Nigeria and with the tacit cooperation of members of the police force, state security men were said to be present at the scene of the lynching but chose not to intervene. 

Also, there were a few Nigerians who actually tried to justify the murders, they felt if these students actually stole phones and laptops as alleged, they deserved to be lynched, and some even cited their religious books to justify this atrocity.

This ghastly incident also brought to my mind the hideous views many Nigerians hold on homosexuality, and what many Nigerians think should happen to homosexuals.

Many Nigerians threaten Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transsexuals with public stoning. I have lost counts of the many times I have received messages and comments on social networks threatening just that.

Many Nigerians obviously think it is OK to threaten Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans with jungle justice and also think it is their civic duty to send threat messages, sometimes graphic violence messages to LGBT Rights advocates. My public advocacy for decriminalization of homosexual acts and the call for recognition of LGBT rights as human rights have indeed exposed me to this primitive side of Nigerians.

I wonder how many people that are indignantly condemning the lynching of the 4 UNIPORT students would also condemn this action if the accusation was not that of robbery but that of sodomy. What if these students were accused of being gay, would it be OK to lynch them?

I ask this question because many Nigerians often very casually mention that gays should be publicly ridiculed, mobbed and stoned to death. Many Nigerians make it a duty to leave threatening messages on social networks where any gay person, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual is featured.

 When I granted a National newspaper an interview where I condemned the anti same sex marriage bill and called for the recognition of LGBT rights as human rights, many Nigerians left comments calling for gay Nigerians to be lynched. Very few Nigerians ever bothered to condemn such comments. 

When Sir Richard Branson on his blog, condemned the anti same sex marriage bill as cruel, many Nigerians posted vitriolic comments on the blog, many went as far as calling for gays to be publicly stoned to death, they gleefully cited the case of Sodom and Gomorrah to justify this atrocity. As Voltaire said “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”.

Same hate-filled comments were posted under the interview I granted. In fact many Nigerians gossip blogs reposted the interview on their various naija gossips sites with malicious captions encouraging very violent comments. Some bloggers even go as far as publishing pictures unlawfully taken from LGBT Rights advocates’ facebook pages and post these online with malicious comments encouraging jungle justice to be carried out on these activists.

 Why do Nigerians think it is OK to threaten anyone with jungle justice, yet shed crocodile tears when jungle justice was carried out on the Aluu4? Is it that jungle justice is not acceptable when the victims are heterosexuals but acceptable if they are gays? Why the double standard?

Jungle justice is of course barbaric in every sense of the word, no right thinking human being should ever advocate for such an evil action, it is certainly not something we should wish on our worst enemies, yet many Nigerians wish this on gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals even though these people cannot cause harm to anyone with their sexual orientation.

Does anyone deserve to live in fear of Jungle justice?

Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals face the threat of jungle justice every day in Nigeria; they know that getting to court alive would be a luxury. They could be mobbed to death instantly if ever caught in the act or even on mere suspicion. Would the percentage of Nigerians condemning jungle justice drastically drops if it involved gays and lesbians?

Not too long ago, a video was posted online of three female students who were allegedly ‘Lesbians’. They were forced to perform sexual act on themselves by a group of barbaric guys, they were flogged, tortured, humiliated and raped. I wrote an appeal calling for justice and urged people to stop sharing the video. I was indeed surprised by the number of ‘likes’ on the horrendous, violent rape video, and some of these who clicked like on the video were my facebook friends, needless to say I had them deleted shortly after sending them a short message on exactly why I was deleting them from my friendship list.

This horribly violent video did not receive a wide condemnation, the police never acted on it, the National Human rights commission was informed, various Human rights NGOs in Nigeria were contacted, and none felt it would be productive to demand for justice for the ladies. The fact that the tortured students were allegedly lesbians did not earn them much public sympathy, the allegation of Lesbianism already made them sub-humans in the eyes of Nigerians.

So I ask again, how many Nigerians would really stand up and speak against jungle justice if the Aluu 4 victims were gays caught in the act?

 State sanctioned Jungle Justice?

There have been many documented cases of public bullying and torture of gays and lesbians in Nigeria, yet we never heard a public condemnation of such barbaric threats and acts against LGBTs.

Under Shari’a law which has been adopted by 12 Northern states in Nigeria, Sodomy is a criminal offence which is penalize with death by stoning. Hate crimes are not uncommon in Nigeria as can be seen in the following cases and remarks:
 In the international arena, Nigeria has continued its campaign, openly calling for killing people who engage in homosexual conduct. At the UN Human Rights Council in September 2006, Nigeria ridiculed the notion that executions for offences such as homosexuality and lesbianism are excessive. Its diplomat said: “What may be seen by some as disproportional penalty in such serious offences and odious conduct may be seen by others as appropriate and just punishment.”  
(Source- "Recognizing Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at the Human Rights Council Session 2," ARC International (2006); also available on Human Rights Council Website, www.unhchr.ch, cited in This Alien Legacy, Human Rights Watch Report, December 2008, p.62)

Also, recently at the United Nations, Nigeria was one of the countries that voted in support of removing ‘sexual orientation’ as one of the grounds which extra judicial, summary and arbitrary execution would not be tolerated.  Need I point out that extra Judicial, summary and arbitrary execution include JUNGLE JUSTICE? Well, Nigeria actually voted that jungle justice be mete out to Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transsexuals.
 When Nigerians have so much hate for LGBT persons who have not caused them harm in anyway, how can they even have an iota of human feeling for those who actually harm them? Law enforcement agents are not sympathetic to sexual minority cases, the government seeks to further criminalize homosexuals and the majority of the citizens want to stone gays to death, what a country! 

When leaders of our country, our security agents and the generality of our citizens have such mindsets, how can we begin to talk of a social justice conscience and sanity in our nation?

Nigerians must rid themselves of mental slavery, self righteousness and religious stupidity before they can truly empathize with another human being or other earthlings, without a need to justify their actions with quotes from some imported ‘holy books’.

Selective justice is bad and jungle justice has no place in a civilized, sane society. Of course Nigeria is not yet a civilized, sane society, but this is not a reason for us to flaunt our primitiveness. Let us at least make an effort to rid ourselves of these primitive urges, and try to understand that every life matters.

To maintain sanity, law and order in our society, we must learn to rise above primitive urges, and give everyone a fair chance to be heard in a democratic court of law. Some would say it is easy to say this if one had never been attacked by armed robbers. Well, some of us had experienced armed robbery at gun point, we have had horrible people do despicable things to us and our loved ones, but what makes us above these despicable people is because we have refused to drag ourselves down to their evil level. An eye for an eye is never a good thing; it would leave everyone blind.

A nation is as good as the conscience of its citizens; a nation is also as bad as the conscience of its citizens. On the issue of Rights of Sexual minorities, many Nigerians lack a social conscience and no encompassing social justice can come from such a nation.

We can only fairly fight against that which we totally condemn, we cannot on one hand condemn jungle justice and on the other hand advocate or passively accept that it is OK for gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, or Trans to be mobbed and stoned to death.

Where do you stand on the issue of jungle justice; are you totally against Jungle Justice or is it No to Jungle Justice, but…? 

15 comments:

  1. I think I know the answer to this, after all one of my Christian brothers, a self proclaimed Human Rights Activist said along with homosexuals we're not all God's children.

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    1. Not all animals are equal in Nigeria, some are more equal than the others. Homosexuals are way down the ladder of equality in Nigeria. Many Nigerians do not even think Homosexuals, Bisexuals and Transsexuals are Humans. Your average christian in Nigeria would proudly say that 'God' did not intend the Love thy neighbour rule to cover Gays and Lesbians!

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  2. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
    By Martin Luther King Jr.
    Your steadfast attitude to this cause is worthy of praise. I only wish our people would open their eyes and realise how naivity is taking its toll on the progress we sought so much. Be strong. Never waiver in your quest. Your legacy would outlive these morons.

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    1. Thanks. We should strive to do what is right even if it means standing alone. Let us keep doing what we can to make our society a better place for all.

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  3. I read your blog and while am against any form of brutality against any human, I will also like to take my stand against homosexuality,bisexuality and transexuals.I really do believe the world is coming to an end with the rising tide in wars,slavery, envtal change and sodomy in the world right now. To think that we are even debating this issue and hrearing pple talk abt modernisation and naivity is sad. These practices are clearly against the law of nature and I can't phantom a Nigeria were men will marry one another and the females too. As a parent my heart bleeds that my kids have to grow amidst such negative influences. While you reserve your right to life, I pray God touches your hearts so you can see the truth and re-order your lives to how He meant it to be in the first place. Please love right,same sex is absolutely wrong!!! R.I.P Aluu4 I'ld have still sympathised with you had you been gay too, NO ONE deserves to die in such a cruel manner. May God help us all!

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    1. Since your stance on homosexuality has nothing to do with facts but myths, I shall disregard it. If you'd like to get educated on the subject of sexual orientation, feel free to read my triology posts on DEBUNKING THE MYTHS.

      For any rational thinker to take you seriously, you'd need to base your comment on facts not myths. To make any valuable comment on rising tide, environmental change, law of nature, homosexuality or the planet earth/universe coming to an end, you'd have to make reference to Scientific, evidenced based books, not from books of fiction like the 'Holy books'.

      You probably missed the big banner on my blog, I AM AN ATHEIST and unless you want to engage on facts, your comments on the mysterious workings of your nonexistent deity are not welcomed on my blog.

      BTW, I don't take life advice from people who based their understanding of the universe on a book of fiction written 2,000 years ago by some probably famished dessert men, heavily edited by monarchs with political interests; I certainly do not take advice from adults who believe there was a talking snake and a talking Donkey because their bible says so.

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  4. I thought about this point some days ago and asked if this compassion would have been the same if the situation was different i.e homosexuality. Unfortunately, (personally) I dont think people would have shown this much concern because many would have justified the mob action but spiritualizing sexuality .I survived a similar attack in 1992 and when I saw the video is could relate completely to those boys in the mud being hit and abused (and eventually killed). I was lucky help came to my rescue ( a friend) but if not for him, maybe I would not have been here today. My crime then was my "suspected sexuality"..... and to be honest the sympathy I got was not great. Please stop jungle Justice and make Nigeria a better place for our children to grow in. RIP uniport 4 may God bless your souls.

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    1. You were indeed lucky to survive such an attack, i know such episodes don't just go away, they leave scars and the deepest cannot be seen with the eyes. Speaking from personal experience and the experiences of fellow LGBTs, many Nigerians would gladly participate in lynching a suspected homosexual and go to church/mosque the next day to give thanks to God for the atrocity. Let us continue to speak out, because if we do not protest our own oppression, no one else will.

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  5. I asked this question when I saw the pictures that very saturday,I must say I was among the people that screamed for justice, you never know what it feel like till you ve experienced it, I share same feelings with the man who was beaten in 1992, mine was in secondary school, I was loved by many but just because of suspected homosexual conduct I suffered the greatest torment of my life, I was beaten by my colleagues who had the mind set that homosexuality is a sin and unafrican, another question I ask is who gave themm the right to judge me when many of them stole and went away without punishment,I was unable to speakout because the punishment for it by the school management was suspension or possible expulsion,and I never wanted such reputation, so I had to deal with blackmail,bully and extortions from both my mates and my senior who felt I deserved such punishment because I was a persived HOMOSEXUAL, so now you can imagine what happens in a junior secondary school, where little children are already partaking in the act of jungle justice in Nigeria and the effect of these acts on those that ve been beaten and that ve to deal with it, I weep at memories of those days and I don't ever pray it for an enemies child because it is even happenning in the universities, I happen to have been threatened by the host community of my university several time on basis of sexual orientation, that they re muslims and do not like the idea that men will dress/act like women and women like men, and it goes on and on. I must say that ALUU4 isn't the first of this act but many ve been swept under the rugs, we must all respect human life and advocate for rights of our fellow humans.
    If little children can do such thing is secondary and tertiary schools,which mine is one out of a thousand,then howbe the saying that children are the leaders of tomorrow??? I pray for my country Nigeria and its citizens that we all will rise above this level of evil acts and love one another as the bible and the holy koran commands us to do. Love is God and anyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. Love thy neigbour as thy self. All we need is Love.

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    1. I feel your pain because it is part of my pain. The innocence of a child is amazing; their mind is like a blank canvass waiting to be brushed with paintings of love or hate. When the seeds of discrimination and the cancer of religion is planted, tribalism, gender discrimination and homophobia start germinating as they grow, give or take a few years, they would be torn by conflicting messages planted in their young hearts by adults around them. Hence the hate directed at their peers whom they perceive has 'different'.

      University environments are no different, a university is supposed to be a citadel of learning and diversity, yet universities in Nigeria are places of discrimination, willful ignorance and oppression, I speak from experience.

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  6. Probably the reality of my difference makes me always see things differently. But intelligent and a real Godly minds do not deny reality. I have often felt that the consciences of 95% of Nigerians are dead. There is no way a country can make a meaningful progress where the sense of wrong and right is significantly skewed as it is in Nigeria.
    This is not the first lynching party held in Nigeria. I also believe it will unfortunately not be the last, because an issue moves Nigerians to desire change only for one day and the next day it is back to life of hopelessness and lawlessness.
    I heard on BBC’s interview of two Nigerian correspondents/activists that the dehumanization of the four young men went on for three hours before their eventual death. I also read the testimony of the sister of one of those men who said she heard a police give order to the mob to burn them. I read in another piece that says tough looking police unit is now deployed to Aluu for protection of property and people. Where were those in the course of three hours before the killing? This incident was caught in video and pictures, yet there are no arrests! Put all these together I am not surprised that arrest had not been made. Nigerian sense of process is demented. There will be none or there may be none unless the internationals communities intervene to carry it out for Nigeria; a process that may require resurrecting Mary Slessor from her grave to accomplish. (That is to express how I view pursuit of justice in my country. It is just not going to happen.) That said, it means the jungle justice will continue unabated.

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    1. As i wrote "A nation is as good as the conscience of its citizens; a nation is also as bad as the conscience of its citizens. On the issue of Rights of Sexual minorities, many Nigerians lack a social conscience and no encompassing social justice can come from such a nation." We must not give up hope, every little helps, let us keep speaking out against injustice and actively demand for a better society.

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  7. Nice article Yemisi. My heart bleeds whenever i read about the going-ons in Nigeria especially as it regards homosexuality. As a gay Nigerian in Europe i can't help but wonder if we'll ever get to the level of most Western countries in this regard.

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    1. Thanks.It is so sad that many Nigerians are glad to be part of a jungle justice/homophobic mob. LGBTs in western countries also fought hard for the recognition of their human rights and in some cases they are still fighting for full recognition,. Together we can make a difference in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.Let us keep demanding for a change wherever we are. Every voice truly counts.

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  8. Fuck Nigerian Lawmakers.Do they think LGTBs is the problem they're having?They're just chasing their shadows.Amongst all the issues at hand in Nigeria they think sexual orientation is the problem they have,even most of the so-called lawmakers voting for the anti-gay bill to be signed are involved in the act,this is a high level of hipocricy.If Nigerians could focus the zeal been looked on LGBT on their issue of insecurity,then they would have achieved something better.Nigerians can't even place their priorities right.God bless Nigeria,God loves LGTBs irrespective of whatever.

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