Collins Gideon, a Nigerian gospel minister whose naked photos were published online by blackmailers, has spoken out about what truly happened and how the incident affected his life. He was labeled as homosexual, disowned by his family and forced to drop out of university.
In November of last year, Gideon’s nude photos were circulated on blogs and gossip websites, which labeled him as gay and ignored his side of the story.
Gideon, a gospel singer, spoke to NoStringsNG about what really happened: He was blackmailed and set up by a close friend whom he had known and trusted. He said:
“It all came as a shock to me. The person who leaked the pictures online was a very good friend of mine whom I have known for a very long time. I did not know that he was that bad until he did what he did to me.”
His then friend, the blackmailer, wanted money and had everything planned together with his friends.
“He invited me to his house; it was actually my first time visiting him since we became friends as I have always been busy with school and all. At first, when I arrived, there was no one around except him. After a while, a group of other boys came around and, after a few minutes, they started asking me a lot of personal questions. They asked about my phones and gadgets and why I did not come along with them. It was strange, as I did not know them and I was surprised about how they got to know that I had the things that they were asking for.
“One of them closed the door, and they forced me to remove my clothes, I refused and they pulled it off by force. They started taking pictures with their phones and said that they were going to release them online if I do not pay them to have them deleted. I did not have the amount of money that they wanted so they released them.”
At first, Gideon said, he was unaware that the pictures had been released online and his family had already seen them. Not until one of his cousins called to notify him did he find out what was going on.
“My cousin saw it on my [online] wall and called me. I had been offline because I did not have internet data at the time. But when I subscribed, I went online and saw that it was already posted on my wall and it had already gone viral. The comments broke my heart.
“My family called a meeting and disowned me. They said that they do not want to have anything to do with me and withdrew all their support, including from my education. I was in my 200 level at the Delta State University, but now I have dropped out and moved to Lagos, where I am living with a friend.”
Gideon said that ever since the incident, things have been very difficult for him. He tried to reach his family several times to apologize, but they have refused to forgive him.
“It has now become clear that my family does not want to have anything to do with me anymore. Things have become very difficult for me. I hope to go back to school if I have the support. But right now, to survive, I just started teaching in a private school,” he said.