Law enforcement in Nigeria have arrested at least 67 people who were believed to be celebrating a same-sex wedding in Delta state’s Ekpan town.
Police raided the event at around 2am on Monday (28 August) and initially arrested more than 100 people before scaling it down to 67 suspects who will be prosecuted for “allegedly conducting and attending a same-sex wedding ceremony”, police spokesperson Bright Edafe told local media.
This marks one of the country’s largest mass arrests in recent years targeting homosexuality.
Homosexuality is entirely outlawed in Nigeria and can be met with a punishment of up to 14 years in prison, or 10 years for accomplices.
In a live broadcast, Edafe stated: “On 28 August, about 100 suspects were initially arrested. The majority of them all dressed like females and we saw the two main suspects, one dressed as a bride and one as the groom.
Homosexuality is entirely outlawed in Nigeria and can be met with a punishment of up to 14 years in prison. (SimonMaina/AFP/AFP/Getty)
“There is a video recording where they were actually performing their wedding ceremony.
“After screening them, we have about 67 suspects that we are parading today.
“We are still investigating and we want to assure Deltans and Nigerians that they will be charged to court soonest upon completion of the investigation.
“We are bringing this out to the world to know, especially Nigerians, we are in Africa and we cannot copy the Western culture because we do not have the same structure and tradition.”
Standing behind the spokesperson was a group of the suspects, who were later allied to speak to journalists as part of the broadcast.
A police statement seen by CNN noted that a number of prohibited items were obtained during the raid, including: “One codeine bottle, three cups of refined Canadian loud, five sachets of SK, one sachet of tramadol, four tablets of molly drug, one crusher, gay marriage ceremonial dresses.”
It added that law enforcement officials were first tipped off about the wedding when they came across an attendee during their routine patrol.
“Upon interrogation, he confessed that he is a member of a certain gay club and that he was on his way to join his fellow members for a gay marriage ceremony,” read the statement.
In a post to X (formerly Twitter), Amnesty International Nigeria condemned the mass arrest and called for an “immediate end to this witch-hunt.”
“The arrests violate a range of human rights and discriminates based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity,” the organisation stated.
“In a society where corruption is rampant, the law banning same-sex relationships is increasingly being used for harassment, extortion, and blackmail of people by law enforcement officers and other members of the public. This is unacceptable.
“Delta state police command claimed, the men were arrested for allegedly planning same-sex marriage. It is mind-boggling that the mere act of dressing style, hair or sitting in a pair can assume criminal proportions.”