Some of the 57 men arrested by the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly conducting a ‘gay initiation rites’ at a birthday party in Egbeda area of Lagos have narrated their side of the story.
The young men, at a press conference hosted by The Initiative for Equal Rights, a civil rights group, revealed how they were treated at the point of arrest, what they went through at the Ikoyi Prison and what they had gone through in the past one year of their ordeal.
The rights group called for dismissal of the case since, after five court appearances, the police were yet to establish any substantial evidence against the young men.
The Executive Director of the group, Miss Xeenarh Mohammed, told journalists that the 57 men branded as criminals had incurred travel and legal costs to make appearances in court, while the police continued to give excuses to delay court proceedings.
James Burutu, who was the celebrator at the party where the men were arrested, said the Police stormed the venue at about 2am, rounded up his friends, separated the women from the men, and then took 57 men away.
“People were in the hall and suddenly at about 2am, I was in my room and the next thing I know, the DJ stopped playing the music and I asked my friends who were with me what was happening. They said they didn’t know.
“I was just going to put on my clothes and join my guests downstairs, when I heard ‘sit down there, don’t move’. So I decided to stay back. We peeped from the window and I saw Police vans and they were telling all the guys and the girls to stand separately .
“I tried to call the hotel manager but he didn’t pick up, so the police asked the girls to go and they took the boys”, he said.
Burutu added that, as a result of the incident and the bad publicity it generated at the time, he lost his job and his sister threw him out of her home.
“Ever since, many of my family members have not been talking to me. They said they didn’t know me to be gay and why would police come to my party and said it’s a gay party. I have not been myself ever since.”
One of the suspects, Smart Joel, said he was at the hotel to celebrate with his friends after celebrating his own birthday the previous day.
“For me, before that fateful day was my birthday. I decided to go for the party, I went with three of my friends, along with our girlfriends .
“We were in the hall. The party had just begun when I saw people running. Before I knew it, I saw many policemen. They brought everyone out, asked us to kneel down and separated the ladies from us. They said they didn’t have any business with the ladies; that they were there for the guys, after they got an information that we were having gay and cultism initiations.”
“I just told my girlfriend to inform my family of what happened. The police left with 57 of us. They took us from one police station to another and the Task Force office in Oshodi and back to another police station. Then they landed us at anti-cultism police station, at Charley Boy Gbagada. It was very saddening.”