Nigeria: Whether a Commissioner of Oaths or a notary public would notarize a statement or swear an affidavit in which an individual admits to being bisexual or homosexual, or to knowing of someone's sexual orientation; documentation taken by police upon arrest for same-sex activity (2014-December 2015)
1. Affidavits Regarding Sexual Orientation
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, sources gave the view that it is not a standard practice in Nigeria for a Commissioner of Oaths to swear an affidavit regarding a person's gender or sexual orientation (Population Council 14 Nov. 2015; QA 1 Dec. 2015; CIRDDOC 18 Nov. 2015), or for a notary public to do so (ibid.; Population Council 14 Nov. 2015). Two sources stated that they have no knowledge of instances in which a person would have a need to obtain such an affidavit within Nigeria (QA 1 Dec. 2015; CIRDDOC 18 Nov. 2015).
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative of the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) of Nigeria, an independent non-profit organization that protects and promotes human rights and women's rights, including through activities such as research, litigation, counselling, and legal advising (CIRDDOC n.d.), explained that "it would be strange" for a person to swear to an affidavit about sexual orientation because these are crimes in Nigeria and would "amount to ... reporting himself or herself to the law" (ibid. 18 Nov. 2015). Similarly, in correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Country Director for Nigeria of the Population Council, an organization that conducts research on HIV prevention, care, and treatment responses among vulnerable groups, including men who have sex with men (MSM) (Population Council n.d.), stated that
[h]igh levels of homophobia and the criminalization of same-sex practice and relationships would prevent LGBT individuals or allies from swearing such an affidavit with a Nigerian notary public/commissioner of oaths. They would likely fear outing (which can lead to loss of family, friends, work, education), violence, arrest, blackmail and extortion. The Nigerian notary public/commissioner of oaths may also refuse to participate in such an activity due to the same homophobia and criminalization. (14 Nov. 2015)
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Organizational Director of Queer Alliance Nigeria (QA), a "youth-led human rights and health advocacy organization for Nigerian citizens marginalized on the basis [of] sexual orientation and gender identity," stated that "affidavits are not used in Nigeria for things [such] as swearing to ... being homosexual" and gave the view that the "embarrassment and stigma associated with getting such [a] document deter people from obtaining it" (QA 1 Dec. 2015). He said that there is no "need for this particular kind of documentation in the country, since there are no benefits to claim using" such documents within Nigeria (ibid.).
In reference to whether an LGBT person's family member would seek to obtain an affidavit about that person's sexual orientation, the CIRDDOC representative gave the opinion that the situation would be the same as that of an individual seeking one, and that this would be unusual and amount to reporting that person to the law (18 Nov. 2015). The Country Director of the Population Council stated that family members would likely be "unwilling" to swear to such an affidavit due to criminalization and homophobia, but may be more willing "if the LGBT individual/ally is guaranteed absolute confidentiality or security" (14 Nov. 2015). The QA Organizational Director similarly stated that families of an LGBT person "first want to save themselves the embarrassment and stigma associated with homosexuality" and would thus avoid obtaining or swearing to such an affidavit (1 Dec. 2015).
2. Documentation by Police Upon Arrest for Same-sex Activity
According to the QA Organizational Director, when arresting a person for same-sex activities, police obtain a signed statement from the individual admitting their same-sex activities, which carries the stamp of the police station, the prosecuting or investigating officer and that of the station commander or divisional police officer (1 Dec. 2015). The Country Director for the Population Council similarly stated that, based on information received by partner organizations,
[u]pon arrest and detention, the police would usually demand/request the victim to write a statement explaining his/her activities that led to the arrest (this statement most times is [obtained] under duress), and this is filed with other information or facts, e.g., printed suggestive photos, chats, etc., documented against the victim as evidence.
Usually, the statement ... is signed by the victim and the arresting officer or the [officer] in charge of the case … the signature may be ... handwritten ... or stamp. Such documents are kept at the police station and not given to the victim (Population Council 16 Dec. 2015)
The QA Organizational Director similarly stated that
[t]he signed statement obtained by the police is not provided to the victim. …People are not compelled to give statements. But most statements collected are collected under duress. … [T]he statement can be used as evidence in a court of law and by the police as it usually carries the signature of the victims. These statements are usually obtained at the point of detention through interrogation. (6 Jan. 2016)
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) Nigeria. 18 November 2015. Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.
Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) Nigeria. N.d. "About CIRDDOC Nigeria." [Accessed 15 Dec. 2015]
Queer Alliance Nigeria (QA). 6 January 2015. Correspondence from the Organizational Director to the Research Directorate.
Queer Alliance Nigeria (QA). 1 December 2015. Correspondence from the Organizational Director to the Research Directorate.
Population Council. 14 November 2015. Correspondence from the Country Director for Nigeria to the Research Directorate.
Population Council. 16 December 2015. Correspondence from the Country Director for Nigeria to the Research Directorate.
Population Council. N.d. “Key Populations at Risk for HIV.” [Accessed 29 Dec. 2015]
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Legal Defense Assistance Project; The Initiative for Equal Rights; Women's Health and Equal Rights Initiative.
Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; ecoi.net; Human Rights Watch; UN – Refworld.