On the 1st of June, 2017, A speculated news spread viral on social media that Nigerian writer, poet and gay rights advocate, Chibuike Obi has been kidnapped at his home town Owerri, Imo State.
According to what GYOnlineNG.COM, gathers reported that he was kidnapped for writing about his experience on queer-phobia in Nigeria, which was published on Brittle Paper on 17th of May, 2017.
As at the time of writing this report, Chibuike Obi has regain freedom from the kidnappers camp, he had even reported to have done a Facebook Live session with his friends and fans, in order to show them that he’s back at home, safe and sound with his family.
The Brittle Paper writer, Chibuihe Obi, who was kidnapped
on Thursday has been released. He is now with his family.
— BRITTLE PAPER (@brittlepaper) June 5, 2017
Chibuike Obi is a writer for online literary magazine platform Brittle Paper, where he’s well-known for his essays on LGBTQ-themed poems. Before he regain his freedom from the kidnappers camp, there are reports social media that he was kidnap by a group of ” homophobic thieves ” for “ spreading Satanism ”.
According to information reaching us, reported that the group allegedly responsible for the kidnapping Chibuike Obi is also targeting other LGBTI writers, threatening to ‘hunt them down and kill them.’
Anonymous friend had something to says about the kidnapping of Obi:
” The last time a friend of mine spoke with him, he was in Umuahia where his mother lives. But someone said he was in Owerri on 1 June, the day we lost contact with him. This second info is speculation; we use it because nobody knew his movement for sure. ”
He further said that the kidnappers had contacted several people connected with Obi. ”Three of those people happened to be with us when they got the messages – that’s when we knew what had happened. Half of their messages are homophobic, death threats, promises to hunt down other queer writers.’
Here is an excerpt from his last post on Brittle Paper detailing the previous threats and attacks he and others have been faced with.
It is over a year now since we started publishing LGBTIQ-themed poems. Threats have been coming. Thick-brained humans come to your Facebook inbox and write long sermons peppered with hate and warnings. They’d tell you to get ready for them. One asked Romeo (Oriogun) to send him some money or he’ll send policemen after him. Another actually reported him to his superiors. One Sunday evening in April, Romeo contacted me to say that someone has reported him to the police near his new post. The officers called to inform him that they’d be at his post to arrest him. Although we were able to avert the purported arrest, because it was baseless and out of question, the threat, the harassment, was psychologically draining to Romeo.
Last August, a random number left a message in my WhatsApp inbox. There was something curious about the name which made me ignore the content of the message. But I have stopped making public my locations on social media. I register my presence long after I have left the place, and if there is need for that. I try to keep my movement discrete. This way I have been able to forestall any premeditated attack.
Romeo ignored this, made light the threats and, last week, he was attacked.
I’ve longed to find the queer body in Nigerian literature documented with dignity, with respect. To find the queer body portrayed as being wronged, as deserving justice,’ Obi wrote in that essay for Brittle Paper.
‘For to search for one’s self in literature and not find it or to find it perpetually twisted and shunned and vilified is also violence, a different kind of violence. Nigeria’s literary scene has not been fair to the queer body. It has not been fair to the queer narrative. There are holes and gaps, gullies even, that no one is willing to close.’
Indeed, Nigeria’s queerphobia extends beyond the literary scene. The Nigerian government’s 2014 law prohibiting same-sex marriage also criminalized public displays of affection between same-sex couples and halts the work of organizations looking to help LGBTI individuals.
According to Human Rights Watch, ‘The law imposes a 14-year prison sentence on anyone who “[enters] into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union,” and a 10-year sentence on individuals or groups, including religious leaders, who “witness, abet, and aid the solemnization of a same-sex marriage or union.”
It imposes a 10-year prison sentence on those who “directly or indirectly make [a] public show of [a] same-sex amorous relationship” and anyone who “registers, operates, or participates in gay clubs, societies, and organizations,” including supporters of those groups.’
‘I am shocked and the increase of abuse against the LGBT people in Nigeria,’ says Reverend Jide Macaulay, an openly gay African theologian and founder of House of Rainbow.
‘The LGBTQ people are suffering and now there is a new crime of kidnapping those who dare to speak up, especially activists like Chibuihe Obi who use the media platform and blog to write about the abuses of LGBTQ people in Nigeria.’
‘This is not good, he states. ‘LGBTQ people in Nigeria deserves the full protection of the law, and not be terrified. It’s time to challenge the homophobia and ignorance of the society on the existence of lesbians and gays.’
Romeo in the excerpt post overview was the winner of the 2017 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. He won the £3,000 for his “beautiful and deeply passionate” writing on masculinity and desire in the face of LGBT criminalisation and persecution.
Chibuike Obi is back at home, but what’s the fate other queer-phobia writers.