Reports indicate that a popular Nigerian gay rights activist,Emmanuel Olaoti, has gone into hiding, as the police intensify effort on its planned clampdown on same sex relationships in Nigeria.
Emmanuel, who is well known for conducting health outreaches and other activities for gay men and lesbians in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria as well as speaking for gay rights, has been off the radar for several months, according to reports.
Emmanuel had previously granted press interviews on health issues and the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria especially during the commemoration of the annual World AIDS Day.
When reporters visited known gathering spots for their activities in several parts of Lagos, the erstwhile bubbly venues have been deserted with community members expressing their appreciation to security agencies for the clampdown as Emmanuel and his group members have always constituted a nuisance in the communities during their so called health outreaches.
Community members interviewed said they are traditionally against all forms of gay practice; saying Emmanuel’s group have been claiming that they were implementing health programs for all and only realized they were gay groups after they were granted entry into the communities.
When our news correspondents put a call through to his mobile phone number which is well known in the health community at various times, the number was unreachable. Text messages sent to the number were also not responded to.
This incident might be unconnected to the clampdown on gay activities in Nigeria which has been intensified over the last 3 years in line with Nigeria’s Same Sex Prohibition Marriage Prohibition Act (2014). The law recommends 10 years jail term for allies of gay people in Nigeria.
Just recently, a high-ranking Nigerian policewoman has warned gay people living in the country to leave or risk criminal prosecution. Dolapo Badmos, a Chief Superintendent and spokeswoman for the Lagos State Police Command, made the comments on her personal Instagram account, which is set to private and has 125,000 followers.
“If you’re homosexually inclined, Nigeria is not a place for you,” Badmos wrote last week. There is a law (Same-sex Prohibition Act) here that criminalizes homosexual clubs, associations, and organizations with penalties of up to 14yeats (sic) in jail”, she added.