LIFFE pushes for justice in the case of a man robbed in Delta State

LIFEE has worked with the police in Delta State to apprehend a suspected homophobic robber in the Ibusa area of Delta State. He is charged with robbery and attempted murder of a local man whom he and his associates suspect is gay.

Sign for the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Ibusa, Delta State, Nigeria.

The arrest came a week after Delta State police met with representatives from Levites Initiative for Freedom and Enlightenment [LIFFE] to discuss working together to combat crime.

Stanley Nwabueze, the suspect, was identified as a member of an anti-gay criminal gang in Ibusa town in Delta State. He was nabbed by officers of the Ibusa divisional police after a successful undercover operation.

The victim’s wallet at the crime scene.

The arrest happened on March 14, immediately after the police received a report from LIFFE about a man who was beaten, extorted and accused of being gay by the gang.

LIFFE had previously informed the police of similar criminal activities in the area perpetrated by a gang of criminals who parade themselves as anti-gay.

Building where the gang takes its victims to be robbed.

According to police, Nwabueze disguises himself as a commercial motorcyclist for hire. He usually drives his victims to an isolated part of  Ibusa town, where his gang waits to carry out their crimes.

When the police visited the scene of the robbery — an old, unfinished, haggard-looking building — they found no one there, but did find the victim’s empty wallet dumped at a corner with all its contents removed by the criminals.

The suspect being taken to court.

The robbery victim, a resident of Enugu, had been lured to Ibusa on March 13 by a friendly-sounding invitation on Facebook.

So far, Nwabueze has been charged to the Chief Magistrate’a Court, Ibusa, and remanded at Ogwuashi Uku prison on five count charges of robbery, attempted murder, attempted suicide, attempted escape from custody, and conspiracy.  He is scheduled to return to court sometime in April.

LIFFE’s advocacy visit to traditional ruler and commissioner of police in Delta State

On March 5, delegates from LIFFE visited the obi (traditional leader), Senator Nosike Ikpo of Ibusa town, and the Delta State commissioner of police, Muhammad Mustafa, to inform them about a group of local criminals.

Delegates from Levites Initiative for Freedom and Enlightenment (LIFFE) visit with Senator Nosike Ikpo the obi (traditional leader) of Ibusa town. For security, the LIFFE members’ faces are not shown.

That gang repeatedly lured people, including gay men, to their hideouts in Ibusa town, where they would beat them, rob them, extort them of their valuables, and then leave them naked on the street. In many African counties, closeted gay men are frequent victims of such crimes, with blackmailers threatening to out them unless they turn over their valuables and drain their bank account.

In a recent incident, a young man [name withheld] was lured to a location where the criminals beat him, raped him, robbed him and withdrew money from his bank account using his ATM debit cards. After the incident, he tested positive for HIV.

The issue was reported to Levites Initiative for Freedom and Enlightenment (LIFFE), which advocates for human rights for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. The organization resolved to discuss the problem with local authorities in hopes of putting an end to the menace and bringing the perpetrators to book.

In response to the visits from LIFFE delegates, the commissioner of police and the obi of the town both pledged their support.

Some police staff members at the meeting and the chief at his palace acknowledged that they were already aware of the crimes.

Samuel Uchenna, executive director of Levites Initiative for Freedom and Enlightenment, presents an award to Muhammad Mustafa, the police commissioner for Delta State, Nigeria. The award honors him as an effective and friendly police officer.

The commissioner officially introduced the delegates to the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to lay the groundwork for a possible partnership. Those delegates included Uchenna Samuel, LIFFE’s executive director, and Mike Daemon, activist, journalist and publisher of the NoStringsNG advocacy website.

Uchenna emphasized the importance of ending the extortionists’ reign:

“It is very pertinent that people know that blackmail, extortion, and all related offenses are crimes — regardless of the victim’s sexuality. Perpetrators should be held responsible and brought to book by the appropriate authorities. It is based on this fact that my organization has taken steps to address this issue.”

Levites Initiative for Freedom & Enlightenment (LIFFE) partnered with Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa for the project.