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NGO’s and activists condemn threats against Bobrisky

NGO’s and activists in Nigeria have condemned the harassment and threats made by the head of the  National Council for Arts and Culture against Internet celebrity Idris Okuneye, the Nigerian transwoman who is widely known as Bobrisky.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

Nigerian transwoman popularly known as Bobrisky. Photo Source: Google

By Mike Daemon

In a joint statement on Oct. 24, human rights organizations and other Nigerian activists said verbal attacks against Bobrisky were designed to promote hate and intolerance.

In the statement, the organizations and activists condemned the harassment and threats made by  Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, director-general of the NCAC, against Bobrisky, a former Nigerian cross-dresser who now identifies as a transwoman.

The statement came after last week’s protest  by homophobic Nigerian youths, which was organized in Abuja by the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) north-central region. During the protest, Runsewe publicly pledged to fight Bobrisky and LGBTIQ+ Nigerians.

Actions such as Runsewe’s endanger the lives of vulnerable LGBTIQ+ folks in Nigeria, who are already subject to violent homophobic attacks.

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Read their full statement below:

Joint Statement

The National Council for Arts and Culture Must Stop the Harassment and Promotion of Intolerance Against Bobrisky Idris Okuneye

Nigeria, 24 September 2019 – We, the undersigned persons and organizations, dedicated to advancing and advocating for the human rights of Nigerians hereby declare our support for Bobrisky Idris Okuneye in the face of the harassments and threats being made by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC). The Director General of the NCAC, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, has continuously made inciting statements about Bobrisky, aimed at promoting hate and intolerance.

Runsewe made his first threat in August 2019 in an interview with The Vanguard Newspaper where he stated that: “If he (Bobrisky) is caught on the streets of this country, he will be dealt with ruthlessly”.  Weeks later, after Bobrisky’s birthday party was shut down by armed police men, Runsewe indirectly claimed credit for the operation and said: “We are going to issue a statement very soon; if we catch anybody on the street disgracing this country — there is law and order in this country.” In another statement, he declared that Bobrisky ought to leave Nigeria.

Runsewe’s actions are a violation of the Fundamental Human Rights of Bobrisky; rights which are guaranteed to every citizen of Nigeria. The stated mission of the NCAC according to its website is “The National Council for Arts and Culture shall be dedicated to the development and promotion of the best of the living Arts and Cultures of Nigeria, using it as resources for National integration and Unity as well as to serve as catalyst for sustainable growth and development of the Nation.” By dedicating so much time into harassing and threatening a citizen of Nigeria who has not committed any crime, Runsewe is stepping out of his role and wasting taxpayers’ time and government resources. He is endangering Bobrisky, and putting Bobrisky’s life and wellbeing at risk. We condemn the actions of Runsewe and the NCAC and urgently call on the Federal Government to put an end to the harassment and threat to life of Nigerian Citizens by a Federal Agency that is funded by taxpayers.

Signed by:

The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs)

Women’s Health and Equal Rights (WHER)

Access to Health and Rights Development Initiative (AHRDI)

Life Building Awareness Initiative (LIBAI)

Africa Focus for Youth Development (AFFYD)

Life Building Awareness Initiative (LIBAI)

Initiative for Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Awareness (ISRHRA)

Women Crisis Centre NG

Improved Male Health Initiative (IMH)

International Center for Advocacy and The Right to Health (ICARH)

Eduation as a Vaccine (EVA)

Hope Alive Health Awareness Initiative (HAHAI)

Valor Atte Basi

Chekwube Ibeachum

Lesley Agams

Orugbo Anthony

Olabukunola Williams

Tahir Idris

Xeenarh Mohammed