‘Mob law is the most forcible expression of an abnormal public opinion; it shows that society is rotten to the core.’ Timothy Thomas Fortune.
Your Excellency sir,
Please kindly permit me to draw your attention to a disturbing occurrence that happened in Ondo town on February 17, 2016 at which a young man, Akinnifesi Olumide Olubunmi, met his untimely death in the hands of a mob, allegedly beaten to death for being a homosexual. Reports surrounding his death suggest that he was caught having sex with his partner who is now on the run.
At best, this information is hazy with no definite corroboration. However, several individuals have ascribed to the plausibility of the narrative citing several eye witnesses. Earlier today, I was in touch with one of your senior aides who confirmed to me that your government is already investigating this incident.
I thank you sir, for this prompt response, as we await the outcome of your investigation. However, kindly permit me to make a little demand of you sir, as the Chief Security Officer of Ondo State and as a proud son of Ondo town. I am also relying on the memory of a personal encounter I had with you at your office in Akure few years ago, when I visited with a respected friend. The impression I took away of you is of a passionate humanist genuinely concerned about uplifting the plight of the people. During that visit, we had inspected some of your projects, and one stood out. I refer to the Abiye mother and child hospital. I realised that your passion for life, to save lives, to ensure we don’t lose one life to have another is profound and stuck in my subconscious till date. Today, I will appeal to that passion, to that philosophy you subscribed to and that you freely shared.
Your Excellency, Akinnifesi Olumide Olubunmi’s life has been cut short, prematurely, but it should not be in vain. This is important for so many reasons, and I hope you will permit me to touch on a few of them.
Firstly sir, the manner of this young man’s death has sent shock waves across the world regarding the texture of our humanity, the value we attach to life, and the nature of our society and of ourselves as a people. Secondly sir, and quite importantly too is the reason, the justification given for lynching him to death. Nowhere did our laws prescribed death as penalty for our sexuality, and assuming it does, which it did not, there is nowhere that any Nigerian is permitted to die extra judicially. Section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) provides that no person shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment. Section 33(1) of the Nigerian Constitution also guarantees the right to life for every Nigerian and states that no person shall be intentionally deprived of their life except in execution of a court order.
We may then ask what is happening! And I think we should sir. We can go a bit further to ask why this is happening in Ondo town, and in particular in Ondo State. Ondo State is populated by people of pride, deservedly so. Ondo people come with taste, they are civilised and wowing the world with their civility. What then has gone wrong? These are questions we must find answers to sir. Meanwhile, what must be done sir, and as a matter of urgency is to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to book, wherever they may have run to. I know this is not beyond you sir, and I trust this will be your immediate line of action.
Your Excellency, the world looks up to you, Nigerians are looking up to you, the people of Ondo looks up to you. Please show the whole world that Nigerians are better than this, show the whole world that Ondo people are not what these criminals are projecting them to be.
On a last note, Your Excellency, do kindly allow me to use the opportunity of this letter to send a message to Nigerians as a whole about the futility of our denial of homosexuality and of homosexuals. This is important sir, because the only route available to us here is for our nation to boldly acknowledge that homosexuality is real and that instead of our hatred, the only way we can deal with this phenomenon is by showing love and understanding. This is what we have to do. It is also important to state that no Nigerian deserve to die or locked up as a result of their sexuality.
Beyond this, as a nation, we owe our people a redefinition of appropriate community conduct, we need to demonstrate that the value of respect for diversity, peaceful coexistence and strength of character at the heart of the founding fathers of our nation exist still and is taken seriously enough by our leaders. Kindly send a strong message by getting to the heart of this issue and bring the perpetrators of this crime to account for their deeds, for the sake of our collective humanity and for the sake of justice to the dead.
I thank you sir, and hope you will offer more reason to justify my confidence and the confidence of the good people of Ondo State, and of Nigerians in you as a worthy leader that you are.
I thank you sincerely sir.
With very profound respect,
February 14, 2016
*Projekthope is a non-governmental organisation working to advance the rights of Nigerians.