No Nigeria amnesty guarantees for gay dating app victims

By Chris Ewokor
BBC News, Abuja

  • Published
A person with their hands around a rainbow heart cut-outImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The name of the dating app has not been made public by the police

Police in Nigeria have urged victims of a same-sex dating app scam to come forward to give evidence.

But they have refused to offer them the assurance of an amnesty in a country that criminalises gay relationships.

People can face up to 10 years in jail for being part of anything considered a gay social club or group - and up to 14 years if in a same-sex relationship.

On Sunday, six people were arrested for allegedly blackmailing those who signed up to the gay dating app.

Its name has not been made public by the police in the central state of Nasarawa, which is investigating the case.

The arrests were made after someone complained that he had been blackmailed - police say the fraudsters threatened to publish nude photos of him on social media unless he paid them some money.

The suspects detained in a sting operation on Sunday have since confessed to luring at least eight people from around the country on a date and then taking them hostage, the police say.

Their modus operandi has been to beat up their victims until they give their pin numbers.

"Their bank account is then wiped out before they are let go," police spokesperson Ramhan Nansel said.

Initial investigations have confirmed that up to $3,260 (£2,700) has been extorted from eight people - but the police suspect more may have fallen victim to the scam.

Mr Nansel told the BBC he understood that people might fear they could get into trouble if they came forward to the police, but it was not up to him to offer an amnesty.

It is not clear if the first complainant will face prosecution - this was something the police commissioner would have to decide, the police spokesperson said.

But the police did intend to pursue a case against those behind the fake match-making app, he said.

The LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria faces a huge amount of discrimination - and often face threats and blackmail.

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Media caption,

Gay in Nigeria: 'Everybody sees me as an abomination'

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