By Esther Onyegbula, Victor Ajiromanus, Amaka Opakala & Onyedika Ofule
THE Lagos State Police Command has arrested 57 suspects, who were allegedly being initiated into a homosexual club at a hotel in Egbeda area of Lagos.
The Police at Shasha and Idimu divisions arrested the suspects following a tip-off.
It was learned that when the Police stormed the venue, they found no fewer than 80 young men in the hall taking different types of drinks including banned substances like tramadol and shisha laced with a substance suspected to be marijuana.
As soon as they sighted the Police, they ran in different directions. However, the team was able to apprehended 57 of them.
Parading the suspects, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, said: “It should be a thing of worry that on a Sunday, (August 26), at about 12:30a.m., the Police received reports that some youths (males) will be initiated into a gay/homosexual club at a hotel in Adenrele Street, Egbeda, an action contrary to Section 1 sub-section 1 of Same Sex Marriage Act 2014.”
One of the suspects, James, a 20-year-old dancer, who publicly declared he is HIV positive, said: “The Police have no proof that we are gay.
‘’I am a 20-year-old dancer. I only went to that hotel because a birthday celebrant had called for my services. The truth is that the Police have no proof that we are actually gay.”
On his HIV status, the suspect said: “I am HIV positive and was infected via mother-to-child in the womb. Since my arrest on Sunday, I have not been taking my drugs, which is very dangerous.”
Another suspect, Amaechi, an indigene of Enugu State, said: “I live at Okoko. I was coming back from a wedding on Saturday when, because of the traffic jam at Egbeda at about 11:30p.m. and because I didn’t know anywhere in that place, I asked a bike man that I was looking for any nearby hotel to lodge for the night.
“On my way, I met some girls, who were going to the hotel for a birthday party. When I got to the hotel, the receptionist said their rooms were filled up. So I bought a bottle of coke and sat down at the bar.
“I was asleep around 2a.m., when a man held me and asked me what I was doing, telling me that I was under arrest. I asked for what, and he said that some guys are there doing petty stuff. He told us to stand up and asked the girls to leave.
“He gathered all the boys and asked us to follow them to the station. When we got to the station, they didn’t ask us anything but accused us of holding a gay party. I feel it is illegal for them to arrest somebody like that without committing any offence.”
Amaechi’s parents react
Lamenting bitterly, Amaechi’s parents said: “The allegation is false. It can’t be true; we have never witnessed such a thing about him. How can he sleep with a fellow man, when there are women everywhere?
“He went to a party and the person that invited him is still alive, let them ask him. Our son sells phone accessories at Alaba.”
Also, Emmanuel said: “I feel it is a false accusation. I was arrested because there were suspects involved in a crime. I obeyed them and went to the station. Yesterday, while we were writing our statements, they told us about the allegation.
“I gave my statement about the allegations being made and I don’t understand anything about it. I spent a night and then they moved me to Oshodi task force office to write a statement without being told of my crime. It is frustrating that citizens no longer have rights and are to be judged like animals. We were arrested late in the night at the hotel. I was invited to a birthday party.”
‘I am a chef’
Another suspect, who identified himself as Onuoha, aged 24, said: “I am a chef with Special Kitchen. We have branches in Lagos and Ibadan. I was hired by the celebrant to cook for his birthday party.”
According to Olasunkanmi, a 25-year-old graduate of Mass Communication from the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye: “It was a birthday party and majority of us don’t know one another. I was invited by my friend Muyiwa for the party.
“There were also ladies at the party. The Police just barged in and arrested people. I was outside the hall buying a drink when I was arrested. They also arrested few ladies, but later let them go. The Police didn’t tell us our offence until we reached the station yesterday.
“At first, the Police told us that they found some illegal drugs on us such as shisha, tramadol and others. But those that owned them came out and claimed possession of them.”
Another suspect, Rotimi, 22, said: “We were verifying gate passes for the party, when the policemen emerged. It was a birthday party and there were ladies there too; we are not gays.”
Brown, 20, said he went to perform at the party when he was arrested.
His words: “I went there to work and get paid. The party was on Saturday and it was meant to be overnight. I was arrested and have been denied access to my drugs.”
Jones, another suspect, said he had gone to have fun on Saturday night and on seeing the activities in the hotel, decided to go in.
“I am not gay and I don’t know any of them. It was even when we got to the Police station that I got to know that it was a birthday party.”
‘I am just a lodger’
Sokari, 23, said he went to the hotel to lodge on his way back from a pageant, Mr Tourism Nigeria, which held in Lekki.
“I left there (Lekki) at 6p.m., but there was traffic jam due to the Third Mainland Bridge closure. So we took a longer alternative route, which was why I got to the hotel late to lodge.
“I live in Rivers State and only came for the pageant. I was at the reception when the Police came and told me to lie down, which I gladly did since I knew I had not committed any crime. But I was accused of being gay.
“All efforts to explain to the Police and show them the evidence of my invitation to the pageantry and pictures proved abortive.”
One of them, China, said he accompanied his friend, a caterer, to deliver food at the party.