600 thousand naira.

5 million naira.

10 million naira.

30 million naira.

No, these figures are not the salaries of our notoriously-overpaid politicians. These are the amounts of money extorted from gay people who fall victim to the vastly-spreading cankerworm that is kito in Nigeria. In fact, calling it “kito” seems to diminish the fact that these people targeting the gay community are actually criminals.

The Christmas season of 2023 was undoubtedly a very festive period for most Nigerians, especially those who returned from many places abroad. It was unfortunately also a period plagued with rampant stories of gay men getting set up here and there; Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja – basically, any metropolitan area that attracted the bustling energy of (diasporic) Nigerians looking to let loose and have all sorts of holiday fun, also yielded report after report of queer people getting entrapped, assaulted and robbed. It was a constant stream of complaints and panicked cries about someone who’d gotten kitoed in Lekki, another in Port Harcourt, someone in Abuja, yet another person in Ajah, and someone else in Asaba.

Frustratingly, it was the same old faces, mostly the same people that’ve been exposed before, that were still getting reported as the perpetrators of these victimizations. In some cases, there were new people recruited by the old bosses, fresh new faces to front the operation and lure their targets to their trap, where the gang lies in wait.

The story is almost always the same. A match on Grindr or Tinder. A more prolonged conversation on WhatsApp. A suggestion for a physical meet-up. The target then goes over to the rendezvous and gets ambushed by the rest of the gang.

The kito story follows the same pattern. The only thing that has changed is what these criminals extort from their victims before they let them go. Gone apparently are the days of 50 thousand naira and 100 thousand naira. These guys now operate with the remunerative sophistication of 419 scammers, aiming for the kind of ransom amounts that glows them up to the levels of yahoo boys.

Kito has long since ceased to be a homophobic consequence of the SSMPA, and is fast becoming an enterprise, a crime syndicate, maybe even a criminal way of life.

And the targets?

The very marginalized queer Nigerians. The minority whose identity is so criminalized, we can’t even boast of fighting back with the law on our side. The average Nigerian likes to joke about how the police is not your friend. The queer Nigerian KNOWS that the police is NOT our friend.

And so, where you have a conned Nigerian relying on the recourse of the police to help get them the justice they deserve, where we are routinely updated with news of the EFCC making sweeping arrests of online con artists, the same cannot be said of the queer Nigerian labouring under the scourge of kito.

Instead we are faced with very grim, limited options of paying up and hoping our humiliation can be managed, or paying up and still getting outed to the communities we’ve been closeted from, or paying up and then scrambling for futile ways to get any form of justice.

In the end, we suffer, and we suffer heavily.

This is sad.

This is painful.

And it is untenable. Something has to give. At some point, the Nigerian society has to shake itself out of its conviction that we are the problem, and start to help us fight for the justices we deserve. At some point, the actions we take after a kito incident should no longer be to enter into a Kito Diaries DM and say, “I was kitoed and I’d like to report what happened,” but instead to enter a police station and say, “I was beaten, kidnapped and robbed,” and have help guaranteed to us.

Something has got to give. Because even when we do fight for ourselves, the “justice” can only last so long. In September 2022, all of the Nigerian Gay Social Media jubilated when the video was released of a well-known kito criminal getting beat up, along with his cohorts, in a retaliatory attack. Today, that same person is out on these streets, thriving and serving as the mastermind behind some of the setups currently being reported.

In that same year, another very notorious kito scum was recorded getting his violent comeuppance, following his attempt to victimize someone who’d come to see him. By the following week, he was out of detention, free to pick up his criminal activities from where he left off.

There is only so much that a civilian-funded reprisal can do or pay for, before we have to let them go and watch as they return to their operations.

These are the actual criminals, the real menace to society.

Yet, it is gay Nigerians, who are simply trying to live, that get arrested, are held in jail cells, are paraded in front of media cameras, and get harassed with the judicial system.

It is sad.

It is painful.

And at some point, Nigeria has to realize that we are not the enemy, and start doing right by us.

Written by Pink Panther

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  1. Bernand
    April 06, 23:05 Reply

    Just get a gun and shoot them🤷‍♂️😏 or how else do you want to go about it.

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