Nigeria: election and LGBTI rights

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On Wednesday morning, Attahiru Jega, the chairman of Nigeria’s National Election Commission, announced that Muhammadu Buhari had officially won the election with 15.4 million votes against Goodluck Jonathan’s 12.9 million.

Late in the afternoon on Tuesday, when the result was almost evident, Jonathan conceded defeat and thanked all Nigerians for the opportunity he had to lead them.

The new President Buhari had previously been the military governor of Nigeria for 20 months, from 1984 to 1985 after taking power in a military coup d’état in December 1983. He survived an apparent Boko Haram assassination attempt.
Former military General Buhari’s victory is a very significant moment in the turbulent Nigerian history. Never before had a governing President lost the election.

Since the independence from Great Britain in 1960 the country experienced numerous coups d’état and most results of the elections were rigged. Obviously many electors are not satisfied with this new result, but this event is a clear sign of increasing democracy in Nigeria.

Let us do not forget that in recent years Nigeria suffered many attacks by “Boko Haram”, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”. This Islamic military group killed thousands of people by pursuing the idea of creating an Islamic State. The new President affirmed that this terroristic organization can be defeated, that he will ask for a wider regional and international cooperation and that he will do his best to put an end to the rebellion few months hence.
This is the reason why many electors declared that General Buhari is the right person to defeat the armed group.

The former dictator has previously ruled the north-eastern Nigeria, which most suffered the Islamist military group’s attacks. In the Borno State, one of the most hit areas by Islamic violence, General Buhari won with 94% of the votes.

However Nigeria’s problems do not concern exclusively terroristic attacks. In 2014 the outgoing President, Goodluck Jonathan, passed one of the worst anti-gay legislations in the country’s history. Besides in 2013 he had signed the “Same-sex Prohibition Act” which forbade homosexuals to get married, punished gay couples with 14 years imprisonment and hindered any form of aggregation to the LGBTI community.

Buhari election 2015
Buhari election 2015

The law provides for up to 10 years imprisonment for those who promote homosexuality as well as arrest for activists.

This is the reason of the struggle occurred last year between Nigeria and the United States, which has not improved the critical situation generated by terrorism.

On March 31st 2015 Steve Stockman, former member of the United States Congress, was sent to Nigeria after the horrible kidnapping of more than 250 female students by the Islamic terroristic group Boko Haram. The congressman declared that U.S. Secret Service had gathered much information to help the Nigerian Army to “crush” the armed group, but Obama’s administration blocked this action.

The reason of this decision was the position of Nigeria concerning “same-sex marriage”. Obama’s politics, based on human rights, aims actually to worldwide equal rights.

Some Pentagon functionaries reportedly confirmed these declarations. In May 2014 Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, allegedly declared that the information gathered by planes flying constantly over the Nigerian territory to find those girls were never shared with the President Goodluck Jonathan.

Obama’s administration had expressly asked the homosexuals’ rights all over the world to be placed on the “agenda” and the decision of Nigeria to pass the “Same-sex Prohibition Act” filled the U.S. leaders with consternation. John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, defined this move as “dangerous” owing to the point of view incompatible with the international legal obligations of Nigeria.

In April 2014 the armed group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 250 girls aged 16 to 18 from the secondary school in Chibok and forced them to convert to Islam. The published pictures show these girls as slaves of the Islamist militaries of Boko Haram, as war trophies, which is a centuries old common practice of Islamic wars.

From 3rd to 7th of January about 2,000 Nigerians were butchered in Baga, North Nigeria. Most of the victims were children, women and elderly persons, who were not able to flee grenades and assault rifles. Most of the city was razed to the ground.

The Islamic group Boko Haram aims to create an Islamic State in Nigeria by sowing violence and terror. At the beginning of March the guerrilla fighters swore allegiance to the IS, the Islamic extremist rebel group in Iraq and Syria sadly known for the beheaded soldiers, civilians and journalists.

What happens in Nigeria is not unusual: aids are blocked in order to put real political “pressure” on the countries. Something similar happened in Uganda after that its President, Yoweri Museveni, passed the draconian “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” in February 2014. In that case the U.S. government immediately withdrew troops and blocked funds of many programmes, such as the ones concerning AIDS and HIV treatment and antiterrorism.

Stockman’s revelation lets us point at the U.S. government on the basis of certain moves of Nigerian Catholic bishops, which accentuate allegedly the U.S. government’s devotion to the support of the homosexual movement in order to create a “cultural imperialism”. It would appear that this is the reason why Obama’s administration refused to Nigeria the aids that the country desperately needed.
Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo declared that “The United States said they would help Nigeria only if this country modified its laws concerning homosexuality, family planning, and birth control”.

Buhari election Nigeria 2015
Buhari election Nigeria 2015

Catholic bishops in Nigeria backed the “Same-Sex Prohibition Act” which forbids same-sex sexual relationships by stating that “Nigerian Catholics do not hate men and women who are of biologically gay orientation, but strongly affirm that gay unions or ‘marriages’ are simply not in conformity with our Christian theology or traditional Nigerian morality”.

This hard situation in Nigeria must not leave us cold. Bishop Badejo pointed out the huge disparity regarding how people reacted when Islamist terrorists killed 12 staff from the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7th and how they reacted when Boko Haram massacred more than 1,998 people in Baga around the exact same time.

We wish that this will not happen never again and that this new government will bring a change, for democracy and homosexual persons, through a common struggle aiming to peace and calmness after all that fear. Because we cannot pass these events over in silence.


Tobias Pellicciari


Federico Rossella



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