A Nigerian student at Abia State Polytechnic was set up, blackmailed and forced to come out to his family following threats from the blackmailers.
By Mike Daemon
Chigozie (names changed), a student in his early 20s, told NoStringsNG that his troubles began when Obi, a coursemate, started making advances at him. Chigozie turned him down, but it became obvious that Obi was still interested in him.
“While in school, he would make advances at me, telling me he likes me and all, and I think at one time, he tried to kiss me at a quiet corner, but I refused,” Chigozie told NoStringsNG, which he contacted for advice.
Chigozie said that last week, after they exchanged phone numbers, they started chatting on Facebook, and Obi kept insisting that they meet up at his place. Chigozie kept turning Obi down as he was still unsure if Obi was gay.
“After we exchanged phone numbers, he kept messaging me on Facebook about how he needed my company, and how I was not making him happy by not coming over to see him. I did not want to see him because I was not sure if he was gay or not, but I later considered seeing him,” Chigozie said.
He didn’t know that he was being lured to a trap, Chigozie said, but he soon learned what was at stake:
“I did not know that he and his friends were planning to set me up. I went there on the way back from school with my laptop and new phone. When I got there, after a while we started talking and then he started to touch me and we both undressed.
“A few minutes later, another set of guys barged in and started taking photographs. They forced me to admit that I am gay, and after interrogating me, they took my laptop and phone and then asked me to leave.”
It didn’t end there. The blackmailers started leaving messages for Chigozie on Facebook, asking him to pay money or they would release his photos on the internet and out him to his family.
“After I left my course mate’s house, he kept sending me messages on Facebook, threatening that he was going to expose me to my family, and also release my nude photos if I did not pay them. But I did not have any money. They kept my phone line active, and when one of my sisters called my number, one of them answered and told them that they should ask me what I did and why they have my phone.”
Chigozie said he had no choice but to come out to his family. Following his confession, his family told him they were pleased that it happened to him — because they believe it will teach him a lesson and force him to change.
Blackmail and extortion are two of the many things LGBT people suffer in Nigeria. Blackmailers mostly go unpunished. They believe that since LGBT people are not protected under the law, no harm will come to them and their actions are justified under the country’s anti-gay laws.
But blackmail is a criminal offense, and we hope that, one day, homosexuality will be decriminalized in the country and the rights of LGBT people will be recognized and respected.