“We Have Allowed Our Shame And Fear To Create A Monster.” Bisi Alimi condemns the Nigerian LGBT culture of enabling the corrupt police

“We Have Allowed Our Shame And Fear To Create A Monster.” Bisi Alimi condemns the Nigerian LGBT culture of enabling the corrupt police

In the following Facebook post, Bisi Alimi had this to say about the gay culture of paying bribes to a corrupt police force to get out of arrests.

He says:

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When last year the 42 men case came up, I remember saying that “trying to kill the case and giving the men false hope of safety will not solve the problem”. A lot people accused me of speaking from the comfort of my home.

I heard another case happened over the weekend in Delta, where police hijacked another “LGBT” party and arrested people (I am not even sure if we are allowed to use LGBT for this (sic) cases anymore).

I have kept my cool since the news broke because sometimes sanity demands silence.

Here is the case; I have been here many times. I remember the days in Lagos we will go to parties and have to bail people out the next day. I have been locked up before, I have had to pay police bribe in the name of “bail” and a lot of the time it is driven by wanting the case to just end and so I can get on with my life.

Most of the times, the secrecy is due to shame and the stigma that will follow.

But the unintended consequences of these are that, myself and my friends became a meal ticket for police.

I did not come to pay police bribe, I did not come out to maintain the status quo. I know this is a bitter pill for a lot of LGBT Nigeria (sic) to swallow and I know I have privilege because I live in London now and yes, I am not ignorant of that.

However, accelerating social acceptance for LGBT people in Nigeria is something I have made person (sic) commitment to, but that will never include raising funds for people to pay police so that they can be bailed and I don’t expect you to agree with me.

The reality is simple; we have allowed our shame, fear and pride to create a monster. A monster that is giving us false hopes that maybe if we pay the police, it will go away, I can go home and get on with my life and tomorrow will be another day.

The reality is, it will never go away. If it doesn’t stop you from going to party the following week, it will make you a target of arrest again and you will do the same, a vicious circle.

There is no ending. Finally, it will turn you insular, party is one of the safest ways for Nigerian gay men to meet other men, have sex or kick start a meaningful relationship. I know this because I have been there. Online is a trap, a trap that we have allowed to thrive as well because of shame and fear.

The Delta people will pay the money the police want and they will go home. Home to depression, home to isolation, home to shame, home to rejection and loneliness.

Or you can be that angelic troublemaker and make a decision that it doesn’t matter how long it will take or much it will cost me, I will evoke my constitutional right, the rights that say: I must not pay bribe to police; that I should be taken to court within 48 hours of arrest; that I should have a right to a lawyer; that I have a freedom of association as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I have a right to fair hearing.

I know this sounds like utopia in Nigeria, a lawless and failed state, but goodness me, this can’t continue to be the normal… We have over-intellectualized homophobia in Nigeria that when these cases happen, we spend our time talk (sic) and not a single time to dare the devil and break the circle.

But again, maybe I am privileged but you all know I stood up when I had no privilege and still standing when I do.

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And in the comments, someone else had a differing but equally sound opinion.

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What do y’all think about this? In a country that’s viciously prone to lawlessness especially when it comes to LGBT issues, do we continue to cower in the shadows, self preservative and keen on getting out of trouble as expediently as possible? Or is it time we started stepping out of our comfort zones in order to reclaim our human rights?

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14 Comments

  1. Black Dynasty
    June 13, 06:51 Reply

    As much as i agree with him in theory, it is unfortunately deluded in practice and speaks from a place of privilege where his personal safety is guaranteed.

    To campaign and stand up, one has to be alive first. Self preservation is a natural attribute of the animal species. The issue with things like this is if it gets to court, it will definitely be on the front pages on newspapers and blogs. I couldn’t care less about shame but your professional reputation is dragged through the mud, even if you win, you will never find work again in Nigeria as an ordinary citizen. Your personal safety will always be at risk walking down the street etc.

    The only alternative left will be to flee the country and fight for LGBT rights from the outside. So yes, whilst it sounds great in theory, that doesn’t work in practice and is at best wilfully ignorant to the situation on ground in Nigeria.

  2. Black Dynasty
    June 13, 06:52 Reply

    As much as i agree with him in theory, it is unfortunately deluded in practice and speaks from a place of privilege where his personal safety is guaranteed.

    To campaign and stand up, one has to be alive first. Self preservation is a natural attribute of the animal species. The issue with things like this is if it gets to court, it will definitely be on the front pages on newspapers and blogs. I couldn’t care less about shame but your professional reputation is dragged through the mud, even if you win, you will never find work again in Nigeria as an ordinary citizen. Your personal safety will always be at risk walking down the street etc.

    The only alternative left will be to flee the country and fight for LGBT rights from the outside. So yes, whilst it sounds great in theory, that doesn’t work in practice and is at best wilfully ignorant to the situation on ground in Nigeria.

    Excuse any typos, running to work.

  3. Mandy
    June 13, 07:12 Reply

    Bisi is right. But I believe that the Nigerian LGBT have to be inspired to be bold. Shouldn’t these NGOs (Hello, Bisi Alimi Foundation) make a move that shows they are actually threatening the existence of the law, as a sign to the general LGBT public that they are braced to fight the system, before expecting us to fight as well and put ourselves out there? How come that law has remained unchallenged? How come no one, none of these establishments have ever done anything to begin a process of repealing it? How are we expected to exhaust ourselves in fighting for our rights when the corporations with actual responsibilities to us aren’t doing the main job or aspiring to? Are there legal technicalities stopping them from taking on the single most important obligation they owe the Nigerian LGBT?

    • Q
      June 14, 10:59 Reply

      My thoughts exactly, nice comment

  4. Delle
    June 13, 07:52 Reply

    He made salient points no doubt but his suggestions on how to salvage the situation isn’t totally palatable. I think the Mary lady has a point. Now we know this, how do we implement it?

    Our problem isn’t in acknowledging our problems, it’s in effecting solutions proffered.

  5. Legalkoboko
    June 13, 07:56 Reply

    I do recall the conversation I had with a friend who is also a colleague in the legal profession. It was about Bisi’s planned fellowship for lawyers.

    For those who don’t know, the Bisi Alimi Foundation started organizing what it called “the Media Justice Fellowship” and “the Legal fellowship”.

    After the Media fellowship was successfully concluded, the organization advertised the Legal Fellowship and asked interested lawyers to submit their statement of interest.

    A friend drew my attention to it, so I applied and was subsequently shortlisted.

    I eventually discovered how terribly unprepared they were for the event.

    First, a few weeks to the event, I emailed to ask if there was anything we were expected to come along with, only to be informed through bulk email that the young intern handling the arrangements for the event recently stopped working with them.
    They had to reschedule to an indefinitely time.

    Then, after a very long period of time (several weeks) emails started raining down my mailbox asking me to indicate whether I was still interested or not. I reapplied. Then raised security concerns.

    Long story short, the event never took place. And no notice was emailed to us as to why.

    You may want to check it out yourselves at their website.

    So I ask myself; is this how the legal battle is to be fought?

    Its not enough to churn out LGBT platitudes out there.

    Yes, people should take a stand and fight the police.

    But when that message is coming from someone whose group can’t even deliver on their promise to organize lawyers for a battle, I think we should all take that advice with a pinch of salt.

    • Breeze
      June 13, 14:43 Reply

      First, your comment is false. The Fellowship worked. More than 10 lawyers were trained for more than a week by legal practitioners from around Africa and some global lawyers (some even from the LGBT community in London, America and everywhere else).

      Second, that there was a minor set-back with an intern that stopped coming does not mean there were not serious. I have worked with international organizations where some things were re-scheduled because a staff member handling something was not available, until someone else took over. Minor set-backs happen to everyone of us.

      I’m saying this as someone that attended the Legal fellowship in Lagos, Nigeria, and worked with the team as a Media Assistant, so I know that there was a training in Lagos for lawyers who were selected to participate.

      And yes, just so you know, one person cannot change or effectively speed up the social acceptance of LGBT in Nigeria. Personally, I was going to ask you what you have contributed to the struggle, but then, I won’t because…

      Rather than tarnish someone’s image or try to bad-talk their struggle, why not support them, lend them hands, where you can. That’s how to win a struggle, not coming here to talk bad about someone trying to make something work.

      Mind you, I’m talking as a straight ally of the LGBT community in Nigeria.

  6. Kritzmoritz
    June 13, 08:42 Reply

    I also think that at some point, the system needs to be tested; needs to be challenged. Right now though, that represents merely as an ideal and a minority Ideal in a viscious, unforgiving society is only as good as the paper it is expressed.

    But I refuse to condone the suggestion that unfortunate incidents like these should be used as willing test cases when all these people want to do is survive each day. It doesn’t work that way.

    The system needs to be collapsed from within but changing perspectives is a marathon. It needs a plan; it needs endurance and it needs patience. It also needs laws and public engagements.

    If the quest is the search for test rats, then they must fit the defined profile of Privilege, Immune to the system and Have the security of a second passport. Am sorry but those rats will not be found in the tragic situations of these unfortunate lot.

  7. Bisi Alimi
    June 13, 14:16 Reply

    I try not to comment on issues becuase to be honest it is a waste of time, but sometimes, when people make side talks, it creates a burden to either challenge it and settle it once and for all, or ignore it and allow it to be news, and in this case I have chosen to challenge some of the assetion made here, and goodness me, a lot of what I will say here will possibly sound like old news to a lot of you, but it is an important old news;

    @Legalkoboko talked about his friend and the challenges of the legal fellowship; well sad news, the fellowship went ahead and here is the list of the fellows and the work they are doing; http://bisialimifoundation.ywd.ca/Justice-Fellows-2018

    Becuase here is the thing, some of us are more concerned in getting the job done than in gossiping, no serious minded person has time for small talks and side talks. Yes we had issues, yes it was challenging, but we turned it around and we made it happen, that is what a fighter looks like, if your friend is indeed serious about the fellowship and the program, he is be concenred more about how to make it work and not about how to judge it. To people that have been invited to our events, Pink Panther include can testify to what we are doing. Our programs are giving courage to people who otherwise never thought they could do it, and that is what I am about, I am not here to bring others down, my life is too busy for that and I leave that work to lazy minded people.

    2- I have the case of Ifeanyi to show that unless we test the system it wont work in our favour. Ify sued the police in Nigeria and won N1m. He was scared but he did it. There will never the right time to do the right thing, we only have the time and it is easy to bring others down when you are too lazy and too scared to get another down.

    I am not here to throw shade, but for goodness sake, more of you should stand up and be counted than just acting as it the world owe you a debt.

    End of.

    • Wytem
      June 13, 22:21 Reply

      @Bisi, your response above is totally devoid of class and refinement.
      In your bid to talk down at whoever it is (totally unnecessary), you descended to a new level of low.
      You’d have just made your point and moved on.
      I applaud your foundation for the work (though still in infancy) . I understand the constraints believe me.
      I’m sure you know that it’s not very easy to champion the legal cause the way you want down here. .. Come back and try if you doubt me. We need people to bell the proverbial 🐱 not keyboard warriors. …

      #cheers

    • Legalkoboko
      June 14, 04:04 Reply

      Let me start by expressly congratulating you on the work you’ve been doing for the community. It was never my intention to throw any aspersion on your work.
      Far from it.

      Indeed I wanted to emulate you and support your work. Which was why I applied to be a fellow in your organization’s legal fellowship, albeit without success.

      May I also add that since the website you furnished us with as of last year is different from the website wherein you published to me the news of the legal fellowship, I couldn’t have known that the event actually took place this year. Especially considering the fact that as at the time I made my first comment, the information was not there at the original website.

      Be that as it may, I took the liberty of going through the new website, especially the section on the legal fellowship.

      Chukwuma Martin Chiaha has a particularly impressive CV.

      It says there that “Martin is currently part of the strategic legal team working on the on-going litigation challenging the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2013”.

      I find that part of his CV particularly fascinating.

      Please I hope you don’t mind if I ask you to furnish me (us) with the relevant particulars of the said “on-going litigation”. Particulars like the suit number of the case, the Judicial Division wherein the case was filed and the Judge before whom the case is pending.

      These details will come in handy for those of us who would like to get the certified true copies of the court proceedings so far, and would enable us attend court on the next adjourned date for moral support and for first hand lessons on how such epic battles are fought in court.

      I look forward to your response. In the mean time, please accept my warmest regards and gratitude to you Bisi.

      • DeadlyDarius
        June 14, 07:16 Reply

        On going litigation? That’s fantastic! I’d love to know more precise details about it.

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