“They said they will teach me a lesson for being gay. I told them I was not but they did not listen. The first night I was taken to prison, three of the inmates took turns to rape me.
“I begged them but they refused to leave me. They beat me up with different sticks, injured me and kept making mockery of me.
“Even the officers at Badagry prison were I was locked up for over two months kept calling me gay. I want justice. I feel wounded and very hurt. I have lost my self-esteem, suffered isolation and depression. I am even afraid of what tomorrow holds.”
Those were the words of 24-year-old Ayomide Idowu, a Lagos chef, a victim of Nigeria’s dysfunctional criminal justice system. Idowu’s travails began on June 10 when he was arrested by policemen attached to Olodi-Apapa Division while he was returning home from rendering his service as a chef at a private party.
It was around 11pm and he was in a commercial bus with about 20 others when the policemen stopped the bus and bundled all of them to the station.
Idowu told The Nation that he had showed the cops his identity card but they threw it away, and insisted all of them must get to the police station.
“At the station, they said each person should bring N20,000 for their bail. I told them I have only N5,000. They said I should call my family members to bring the money or they will take me to prison for being gay but I told I didn’t have any family member in Lagos.
“I honestly did not have the money and so I resigned to fate since I knew I have committed no crime. Those who could paid and were released. We were kept at the police station for three days before they took me to the Mobile Court in Alausa.
“I was not wearing female clothing. I was properly dressed as a man and I am not gay. I have never been gay. I think the problem is that I have a feminine outlook.
“At the Court in Alausa, I pleaded not guilty but I was taken to Badagry Prison where I stayed until August 20 when I was discharged and acquitted after an activist took up my case,” Idowu told The Nation yesterday.
According to him, the ugly experience he had in prison has marred him and he was constantly battling with himself to regain his confidence.
Asked if he could name any of the inmates who allegedly raped him, Idowu said he never bothered to find out what their names were, adding that he kept to himself almost all through his stay in prison because he was a laughing stock there.
“The pain was just too much. Two of them were later granted bail and released but one was still in Custody when I was freed. I was never interested in becoming friends and I did not report it out of fear.
“I am sharing my story now so that young people can learn. Once you go somewhere and it is late, just remain where you are. Do not bother going home so that you do not have the kind of experience I went through.
“Nobody knew I was in prison. My friend I was squatting with said he was trying my number and could not get me. It was after my release that I shared my experience with him.”
“The court discharged and acquitted me because there was no evidence from the police. It is very painful for a struggling young man like me to have gone through such an experience. I could not even move about freely inside prison because everyone including the warders would call me gay.
“It still hurts narrating the experience. I cannot even say everything. I feel so bad each day.”