The recent arrest of six young men in Nigeria for the ‘supposed crime’ of homosexuality has once again demonstrated the misplaced priorities of the Buhari-led government. The arrest casts serious doubt on its supposed commitment to transforming Nigeria.
Going by recent developments, hope is fading very fast and disillusionment is setting in as many people are beginning to realize that the change mantra may end up being a ruse, a strategy that was used to win an election. The proposed change is a farce, at least when it comes to the dignified treatment of gay persons otherwise, how does one explain the current detention of some young men by police in Benin for engaging in homosexuality? As if the arrest of these adults was not disturbing enough, the police further paraded them before the public and humiliated them.
The clearly laid back Assistant Inspector General of the Police, Musa Daura, issued a statement that would make an external observer cringe. Daura made it seem as if the arrest had more to do with breaking religious and traditional taboos, not state laws. His statement has literally foreclosed any chances for just and fair hearing for these young men. Is that what change is all about? The ‘suspects’ have been declared guilty even when the investigation has not been concluded and the trial has not commenced. What kind of policing is this?
The government of Buhari, which came into power on the platform of change, must realize that Nigerians are yearning for a forward, not a backward looking change when it comes to the treatment of homosexuals. The Buhari change project must be in tandem, not at odds with the wind of progress that is sweeping across the world. In executing the change project, the Buhari government must think globally while acting locally. It must think love not hate.
This global wave of change does not sanction the arrest and prosecution of young adults for same sexual relationships. No, not at all. It does not condone or endorse homosexuality as a crime. Instead it is demanding a change of attitude towards homosexuals and homosexuality. Yes, the current wave of change urges the decriminalization of homosexuality and the recognition of the rights of homosexuals as human rights.
The process of change in the world demands that people be sanctioned for engaging in homophobic acts not homosexual practice. It calls for an end to homophobic policing as is the case in Benin and in other parts of Nigeria.
Thus if one considers the enormous security challenges that Nigeria faces at the moment including the pervasive cases of violent crime and conflict across the country, it is evident that devoting the limited police force to investigating and prosecuting consensual sexual relationships and to monitoring what adults do in their bed rooms is obviously misguided. It is fiddling while the country burns.