Saturday 8 October 2011

#ABSURape: It is now justice or bust on Social Media

They walked

I should have gone to bed but after reading the news story that the police were of the opinion that the ABSU gang rape (Twitter hashtag #ABSURape) victim agreed to be raped [1]; all gloves had to come off.

On the 5th of October 2011, walks to protest the #ABSURape were organised to take place in Umuahia, the capital of Abia State, Abuja and Lagos, the walks were seriously militated against by the Abia State government with radio jingles advising people not to support the initiative, the walkers were then briefly harassed by the security services.

In Abuja, the walkers got to meet certain ministry officials though much was done to prevent it from happening but in Lagos, they did walk to the Abia State Liaison Office where forceful representations were made on this matter.

My reports of these walks were gleaned from postings made on Twitter, other participants can provide more detailed information about what they experienced, we have to address a more serious burning issue.

So, he watched that DVD

The Abia State Police Command has apparently suspended investigations into the gang rape with the view that the girl victim consented to the rape.

Now, I find it impossible to get it round my little head from what has been reported by those who have viewed that video that the said victim was looking forward to a sex orgy by any stretch of the imagination.

A J. G. Micloth who is the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the state’s Criminal Investigation Department said he watched the DVD “tape” sent to him and could not see the young lady resisting the rape.

In trying to exculpate the police from taking any responsibility for solving the crime, he suggested the suspects could not be identified from the legs amongst the possible 70 million Nigerian males, which is fair enough.

Some serious questions

However, in the next statement there is a clear abdication of responsibility and a default to the tolerance if not the condoning of sexual violence when he first said, “gang rape is often videoed as a tool by under-graduate boys to rubbish the self-esteem of snobbish girls.

The questions that arise from that statement are:

So the police recognise gang rape as a tool and are unconcerned about it?

Is mutual consent not required for the recording of any sexual activity?

Do girls have no right to be snobbish and deny advances from boys they are not interested in and be protected from such menace?

When did our society degenerate to the level that such activity by undergraduate boys had become the norm that the police did not care that it happened?

How can a policeman of such a high-ranking utter such statements without any consequence?

Is there a definition of rape in Nigeria?

Then he went on to say, “even if the lady had not consented,” which introduces the suspicion of rape that the policeman had turned into a triviality with the flippant nature of his comment.

He then figured, “that she was a girlfriend to one of the cultists and must have probably cheated on him and when queried ‘insulted’ the boy hence he probably assembled a gang to teach her the lesson of her life.”

So, without any proof whatsoever, he had come to the conclusion that the end of teaching her the lesson of her life had been justified because her supposed boyfriend had been insulted when he questioned her about a possible allegation of cheating on him.

Reviewing the statements together, the policemen has decided that even without consent, but for the sake of teaching her a lesson, it was not rape.

It really beggars belief that it is no more law enforcement working through the proper legal process of aggrievement or crime, investigation, arraignment, adjudication and punishment that in the words of the policeman, teaches “the lesson of [his/]her life” but as it were, jilted undergraduate Nigerian men can take the law into their own hands with impunity, rape women with no consequence and find support from the police that the supposed victim was having a nice time.

A rotten investigation

Now, obviously, the names that have before appeared in the media have been said not to belong to the alleged rapists but innocent persons who were helping researchers ascertain who the victim was and hopefully elicit who the rapists were too.

The police however contend that they have combed the records of the university and visited the supposed locations of the gang rape act and concluded there were no such students at the university.

The only respite in this sordidly unbelievable tale is that the police have offered NGN 500,000 as a reward leading to the arrest of the culprits; this I believe will be augmented with the NGN 200,000 stumped up in the name of the Enough is Enough Organisation.

In all, we have to recognise that the university, the government and the police have from the onset been more than reluctant to take on this case, in fact, they have been hoping that the clamour for justice will wane over time as they twiddled their thumbs in denial and indifference.

There are no words to describe the view of the governor of the state when he suggested the rape video was staged by his political detractors to discredit him and his government; it plumbs the depths of inhumanity that will give the devil second place that no compassion has been shown towards the victim apart from the desperate attempts to close down this heinous crime wishing any remembrance of it will not go away.

Social media activism is it

Once again, we need to redouble our efforts on every forum and by every means to get these men and much as we would hate for the victim to have to relive the ordeal she went through, no justice is served for her or the impunity to commit other crimes if information cannot be coaxed to apprehend them and have them severely punished.

It goes without saying that one’s confidence in the Abia State Police Command to pursue this investigation to a conclusion is lacking, they are prejudiced if not voyeuristically pleasured by the DVD than to see what their duty to society is and it is appalling that such can represent law enforcement even in the dungeons of the harshest cruelty in this whole wide world.

It would appear the Situation Room for this crime returns once again to social media where injustices might well be compounded but everything and I dare say anything must be done to apprehend those cockroaches – this #ABSURape must not go unpunished and by God let it be those 5 men and none else.

As for those who condemned the social media activism as tabloid stupidity, they had better come off their high horses and sanctimonious disavowal with some constructive ideas as to how to help the victim and apprehend the culprits; enough of playing smart, carping from the side-lines with feigned righteous indignation.


[1] ABSU gang rape: Victim agreed to be raped – Police | Vanguard

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