Segun Awosanya is the face and convener of the #EndSARS campaign that took Nigeria, both online and offline, by the storm months ago, and has endured up until Acting President Yemi Osinbajo finally gave a directive for the reformation of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS).
Awosanya has often been hailed as a fighter for the Nigerian people, with his several forays in issues of police brutality marking him a voice for the people.
However, it would seem as though the civil rights activist recognises not all Nigerians deserving of his campaign.
Over the weekend, reports became public of yet another arrest of young men partying in a hotel, Kelly Ann Hotels in Egbeda, Lagos, in an event that was suspected to be a gay party. Eyewitnesses who escaped the arrest revealed to The Rustin Times that he had narrowly escaped getting rounded up because of a quick bribery given to the policeman who’d chased after him when he fled the scene.
“I got to the party around 10pm, I was among the first people to arrive and things had not kicked off so I went to the outdoor bar with my friends,” the eyewitness said. “Also at the bar were a group of men dressed in black, I overheard one of them tell the group to look at the type of people walking into the hall and he said he felt like using his gun to shoot them because they looked gay. Another man mentioned that this was a common area for gay people and that they had a club they would usually visit close by. I thought it was drunk talk and after a while they left but one stayed behind.
“At midnight the party had started and they were calling names to the high table when I noticed that police men were in the hall. About 8 of them surrounded the hall and started assaulting people. In the panic I ran through the back and hid in the trash but one of the officers followed me and found me. I pleaded with him to let me go and he asked me for my phone, I told him I didn’t have my phone with me but I had one thousand naira so he collected it and asked me to hide under a car. From my hiding spot, I could see them harassing people from the party. The hotel manager and his wife came and told one of the officers that they had no right to come and arrest their clients. The man told them the people at the party were homosexuals and lesbians and showed them a text from an informant who said gay people were having a party at the hotel. I could recognize the man from earlier by the bar, he had come back with 3 danfo buses, 4 police vans and 1 private car. They arrested over 80 people out of the almost 200 persons in attendance, they also went away with phones and money.
“I was with 2 ladies after the police left and people’s started coming out from their hiding places but unfortunately thugs had heard what was going on and showed up to harass the people left. Luckily for me one of the ladies I was with paid the thugs five thousand naira and we left there unharmed. When I left the thugs were beating the other guys and I heard the police would be taking those arrested to Ikeja or Oshodi police station.”
And while local human rights activists are monitoring the case, which follows on the heels of the six men arrested in a hotel room in Aba a few days ago, Segun Awosanya, who was alerted to the issue, took to Twitter to express his take on the issue.
His tweets of course caused a storm on Twitter, with some Nigerians on the micro-blogging site hailing his words as gospel and others slamming him on his bigotry and hypocrisy. The backlash led him to post a new set of tweets.
It is indeed sad that people who are otherwise capable of doing good still come to issues regarding LGBT people and lose their humanity. It is like in Nigeria, there are Nigerians and then there are gay people, and there are human rights and then gay rights.