Rufai, Kano, North West, Nigeria

My name is Rufai, I live in Kano. I had a bitter experience in the hands of Sharia police called Hisbah. I will never forget the harrowing experience I was made to go through in the hands of those Hisbah members. On that fateful evening, I was in my room with some of my friends. We were watching a movie. Kano happens to be a very hot place; the weather was hot, so we all pulled our clothes, and we remained in our boxers, relaxing and watching the movie without knowing that some people on our street have been having plans to deal with us having suspected we were gays.

At a point there was power cut  while we remained indoors waiting for it to be restored.  Not long afterwards, there was a loud knock on my door, and from the way they were talking we already knew they were the Hisbah (Sharia police). They asked us what we were doing. They said they have an idea of what was happening that people have been talking about us and they have kept an eye on us with the intention of apprehending us. We were scared, six of us in the room, and at that moment we all rushed out at once to escape.

All but one, the guy that opened the door was unlucky as they had pointed a knife at him, and he was held down. This was around 11 pm. After about two hours, I got a call from that  friend of mine that was unable to escape that I should return home that they had left and released him. Meanwhile, he was pressured to make that call so that they can apprehend us, but I did not suspect.  He called a second time to find out where I was so that he can join me, and not suspecting anything I told him my location.

Minutes later I was under arrest. One of us too was with me because it was late for him to go home. That night they apprehended four of us. They beat us mercilessly, and forced us to swallow fresh hot chili; we almost choked to death.  The scars are all over my body as I speak (he shows his neck). The next day, only in our boxers, we were paraded round the streets of our area while the beatings did not stop.

They were singing and clapping, at the same time the beating continued. They were singing that we are homosexuals and that we are the one who prevented God from making rain to fall! There were shouts of ‘homo’ homo’ in Hausa language.

The following day, we were taken to a police station where we spent almost a month detained in a dingy cell just because we are perceived to be homosexuals before help came our way. And our parents could also not come to our aid because of the stigma and tag that will stay on them as parents of homosexuals. I left for Jos immediately we secured our freedom, and I can only thank God that I am alive to tell the story.