Could he have been a target because the Nigerian Court refused to nullify the new Nigerian Anti-Gay law?
By Melanie Nathan, November 03, 2014.
A well known Nigerian activist in the field of human rights and sexual health, who was detained without cause or charge by Nigerian police, is requesting an order of enforcement against two Nigerian Government agencies for violating his constitutional rights. The detention of the activist came mere hours after a Nigerian Court threw out a case seeking to squash the new Nigerian Anti-Homosexuality law, The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, known as the ‘Jail the Gays’ law. The attorney who brought that case is now representing the activist.
Nigerian Ifeanyi Orazulike, the Executive Director of International Center for Advocacy on the Rights to Health (ICARH), as well as the Chairman of KAP, a Board member of AMSHR, Secretary of the Board of Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF), who was also a Fellow at the Human Rights Advocate Program (HRAP) at Columbia University in 2011,was arrested at 11.00 pm on the night of October 22nd at his office in Abuja, while celebrating his birthday together with 10 friends, well wishers and staff members.
Ifeanyi tells the story of the raid and his detention in an Affidavit attached to a motion filed in the Nigerian Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division, alleging he was arrested detained and dehumanized, without charge. The Motion was brought on October 24 by attorney Mike Enahoro Ebah, of Enahoro and Associates, based in Abuja, representing Ifeanyi, against The Inspector General of Police (1st Respondent) and Abuja Environmental Protection Board ( 2nd Respondent.)
The Motion was brought pursuant to Order II Rules 1 and 2 of The Fundamental Right Rules 2009 as Preserved by Sec 315 of the Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria. 1999 (as amended); Section 34,35,40 and41 of the Constitution; Articles 6,9, (2), 10(1), 11 and 12 of The African Charter of Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) ACT, CAP 49, Laws of Fed of Nigeria.
In his affidavit Ifeanyi asserts:
“I saw men and women of the Nigeria Police Force, about fifteen (15) of them, armed with guns and what seem like bullet proof vest, maneuvered their way into the office premises, despite the fact that the gate was closed and manned by security staff.”
Ifeanyi said that this was very strange and was completely without cause. Ifeanyi says he approached the police and introduced himself as they “barged into my office”:
“I was told that they had come to arrest me on the instruction of the commissioner of police and nothing further was volunteered,” by them.
Ifeanyi describes that he was physically lifted up by the armed men and taken to their pick up truck which was parked outside the gate.
“They chased members of my organization who were present, staff, friends and well-wishers who had come to visit me, and made to scamper about like common criminals.”
Ifeanyi then goes on to tell how the police searched and wrecked the office, without a warrant and removed items which had been donated to the organization by USAID. They removed condoms, DVD player, speakers, DSTV decoder, took laptop computers and some files which were labelled USAID.
Ifeanyi had no idea why he was being detained or if he was being arrested. He was not told what he had done to cause such treatment.
Some friends followed the police truck to see where he was being taken. The police continued to drive around town arresting “street girls” along the way, until finally he was taken to premises identified as Area 3, Garki, Abuja, the premises of 2nd Respondent, being Abuja Environmental Protection Board. He was left there until the police returned after arresting more people.
Ifeanyi said the experience was horrific as he was humiliated, embarrassed and degraded. He said that one of the police tried to solicit a bribe from him in exchange for his release. Ifeanyi refused and told the policeman he would rather go on to handle this in a court of law. His answer was met with a severe slap to the face, which knocked him to the ground. He says he was forced to remain on the ground.
When the other officers returned, they were told which of those arrested had provided bribe money and that he had refused to pay up. Ifeanyi asked several times for a reason for his detention. He asked why he had not been taken to a conventional police station. No answer was provided. When the police realized he would not pay a bribe they released him. His friends were waiting outside the gated area and were able to help him retrieve some of the items which had been taken.
Infeanyi asserts that his health and well being has been negatively impacted by the undue detention and he is holding the authorities responsible for violating his rights.
In the Motion he alleges his constitutional rights were violated and seeks an order of court, requesting “enforcement of his fundamental rights, so as to respect of the dignity of his person, personal liberty, freedom of movement, right to peaceful assembly an association.”
Ifeanyi and the human and civil rights law office of Mike Enahoro Ebah, representing him believe that unless relief is granted in this case, Nigerian government agencies, such as those in this cited as Respondents in this case, will continue to violate people’s fundamental rights with impunity.
Ebah, the attorney, who brought the earlier case to squash the ‘Jail the Gays law’, which was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, earlier this year, and which was struck by the Court on the very day of this incident, wonders if those targeting Ifeanyi may have been empowered by the ruling of the Court earlier that day. In that case the Court refused to invalidate the Anti-Gay law, on a technicality, stating the Plaintiff in that case, did not have locus standi. The Plaintiff in that case was a Nigerian man living in the United Kingdom.
READ MORE ABOUT THAT CASE HERE