The Abia State University gang rape video hit the Internet on Wednesday, August 17. Since then, the rage it generated nationwide has grown by leaps and bounds.
Citizens, non-governmental organizations and a minister have called on security agencies to unmask the five male students who raped a female student of the university.
But while the security agencies dawdle, Nigerians have taken it upon themselves to fish out the five unidentified young men involved in the rape.
The video, which PUNCH METRO watched on Monday, shows five laughing young men having brutal sex with a helpless female.
While the face of the girl could be seen, the faces of the men in the clip are blurred. The lady begged to be either left alone or killed, but the men threatened to detain her indefinitely in the room if she resisted. The incident supposedly took place on Tuesday, August 16.
But while the police, the school authorities and the state government have denied the report, a growing number of Internet users have launched initiatives to unmask the rapists and help the victim.
The search and reward
An Internet site, ipetition.com, is asking Nigerians to help investigate the incident by sending helpful tips and other information to it.
A blog, /okshorty1.wordpress.com, has offered N200,000 for information that could lead to the identification of the five rapists. The blogger wrote, “We all heard about the heinous rape of a young girl purportedly carried out by five students of the university. The supposed students made a video of the crime which eventually made its way to the Internet. People have expressed outrage at the rape but few could do anything about it.
“So, I decided to offer a financial reward to anyone who could provide information that would lead to the arrest of the suspects. A few other Twitter friends who were as incensed as I was are also helping. For the sake of their privacy, I won’t mention their names.
“So, if you have any information that can lead to the arrest and prosecution of all five suspects please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The identity of anyone who provides such information will be protected. The reward for providing this information is N200,000. You can read the tweet at my Twitter handle @OKshorty1. Together we can make a difference.”
A rights group, Change.org, posted a link asking people to sign an online petition for justice to be done in the matter. The link is: http://www.change.org/petitions/find-these-five-men-and-bring-them-to-justice.
Nearly all those who have watched the video have expressed indignation. A comment left on a popular blog says, “And do you know what her offence was, why this girl was violated? She supposedly insulted one of the boys. In the violation video, which lasts for over an hour, the girl cried her eyes out and tried to fight them off in the first few minutes, after a while they subdued her by slapping her, rough handling her, threatening to kill her and having rough sex with her. After a while she gave in instead of fighting.
“Then, she starts mentioning names, and in between, you will hear her scream out in pain as one guy stands up and another penetrates her, and all the while, these boys are laughing.”
Another blogger, who identified himself as Nnajiofor, wrote, “I watched the video here in UNIBEN. From their discussion, the girl seemed to know about three of the boys. Let government encourage her to come out and fish out those fools and ragamuffins.”
But another blogger, Emmanuel, took a different position. He wrote, “I have no comment but questions. Was she dragged to the room or forced? We watched the video here in Imo and from the look of things she willingly went to their house. It is assumed nobody was present when she insulted the guys, so how sure are we it was an insult? I am not in support of the rape but I need the true story of what led to the rape.”
But in response to Emmanuel’s questions, a blogger, Tolulope Bada, wrote, “Mr. Emmanuel, are all those reasons you listed above enough to commit that sadistic animalist act? Imagine for a second that the lady in question were your sister, niece, cousin or daughter! Be objective in your criticisms.”
Many Nigerians have expressed hopes that the names mentioned by the victim, in the video, would lead to the rapists. The rapists let out their names inadvertently as they called out to one another to take their turns. The names called out are Uchenna, Wisdom, Zaki, Chisom and Ifeanyi (or Ugbanyi) all believed to be students of ABSU, Uturu. Also, one of the rapists boasted he was a Part 4 Law student of the university , while another revealed he was on industrial attachment.
Ministers, others react
Although the video has caught the attention of government, observers say it has not moved fast enough. Only the Minister of Youth Development, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, appears to have given the incident the attention it deserves, watchers say. The minister posted on Twitter that he had spoken to ABSU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Chibuzor Ogbuagu, and the state police command on the matter.
Abdullahi, who said he contacted the VC on the telephone,tweeted, “Just spoke with VC ABSU. He was categorical that it did not happen in his university. He challenges the authencity of the story.”
Abdullahi said he had also spoken with the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade (retd.), and got assurances that the police would investigate the incident.
“Just spoke with Hon. Min of Police Affairs who is now speaking with IG on the ABSU gang rape case. Justice will be done!” he said.
Meanwhile, female rights activists have started mobilising for a protest walk in ABSU’s main campus in Uturu on Wednesday. They said they would like the university authorities to act decisively on the matter.
All through Monday, there were claims and counter-claims on social media on whether the incident actually happened in ABSU.
Denials and revelation
The Abia State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Bala Hasan, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone on Monday, said the incident did not take place in the state. He said the crime was committed in one of the hostels of the university located in Imo State.
The police boss explained the offence was not documented by his command because the scene of the crime was not within his area of jurisdiction.
He said the British Broadcasting Corporation had called him on the incident. He said, “I told them that the crime is not in my record. The incident did not take place in Abia. It must have happened in Imo State. You know some hostels belonging to the university are located in Imo State.”
Our correspondents tried to reach the Commissioner of Police, Imo State Police Command, Mr. Abubakar Mohammed, to speak on the incident but he was unavailable.
The police commissioner’s line was switched off when one of our correspondents called at about 6.20pm on Monday.
However, a statement issued by the Abia State Government through the Special Adviser to the Governor on E-Governance, Mr. Nnaji Asiegbu, on Monday, denied claims that the video emanated from the school.
It reads, “The Abia State Government has carried out an investigation on this matter and the truth is that, the alleged video never emanated from the university.
“The victim and the perpetrators are not students of Abia State University. Those associating ABSU with such barbaric video should please desist from such.”
But the convener of Project Alert, a gender-based human rights group, Dr. Josephine Chukwuma, flayed the government’s claims that neither the perpetrators nor the victim were students of the school.
She said, “If you watched the video, you will see that though it showed the girl’s face clearly, the rapists carefully covered their own faces. So, how can the government for sure say, the boys are not students of the university?
“The onus is now on the police to conduct their own investigation and tell Nigerians and women especially the truth. The video is a complete debasement of womanhood and should not be dismissed without proper investigation.”
Chukwuma said the number of cases of violence and sexual assault on women was increasing drastically, adding that the police needed to be more serious with such cases.
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