Tuesday 4 October 2011

Thought Picnic: My #ABSURape Tweets for the Record

For the record

Having read a number of blogs and discussions related to the #ABSURape issue on Twitter and on some blogs, I have decided to document [1] for the sake of posterity the Tweets I have sent out regarding this issue from the 18th of September 2011 until the 24th of September 2011.

When I first heard of the rape, I was utterly disgusted especially after I read about it on two blogs, I never had the inclination to view the said video or attempt to glean any information from it. I honestly felt the other persons who for altruistic reasons had viewed the videos will pay all diligence to ensuring that all information was handled with the utmost maturity and discretion.

A developing issue of official denials

The rape had happened a whole month before the video went viral and from all the information being shared on Twitter, it appeared people knew people who were quite aware of who the victim was, possibly where the event took place and were in no doubt that it took place at Abia State University.

Meanwhile, all the authorities had refused to tackle the case all denying that the event ever took place in the university or even in the state when it appeared the video first surfaced in the university and some of the students involved had volubly indicated they were students of the university.

There was every need to bring pressure to bear on the system and authorities to act especially when the state governor suggested this video was produced by his political detractors.

The controls are basic trust

In the process, people were bound to get more agitated just as things were bound to go wrong – where the authorities could have helped the circumstances by setting up a situation room to collate information leading to the apprehension of the alleged rapists, the social media sphere became that situation room where daring mixed with some irresponsibility and some caution depending on how you look at the matter.

As it transpired, late on the 21st of September 2011, Tweets arrived on my timeline suggesting that certain names had be put to some of the alleged culprits and those names were published.

The first Tweet I published on arrival of that information was - 21 September Wow! 3 full names of the alleged #ABSURape culprits. Determine who they are and apprehend them for questioning. 67 forakin Akin Akintayo

It had caught fire

Then I responded (my response emboldened) to another Tweet 21 September RT @PearlEze: I checked the XXXXXXX XXX guy on facebook and we have 5 mutual friends! ~ Goldfish have no hiding place. 67 forakin Akin Akintayo

By which time, Twitter had caught fire, the whole timeline was agog with news of the said culprits and I next Tweeted 21 September Watch and marvel at the power of social media - #ABSURape! 67 forakin Akin Akintayo

Then, I made the first direct mention of the name after checking the source website to confirm if what was being said could be corroborated with 21 September Engage the network of Friends. Security Check Required | Facebook - If you are a friend of XXXXXXX XXX XXXXXX one of the alleged #ABSURape suspects 67 forakin Akin Akintayo

The second time I made mention of a name was when I was being harangued about the information to which I responded 21 September @royaltyuso If XXXXXXX XXX XXXXXX is coincidentally at ABSU & has a similar name to the original list of first names, that is unfortunate. 67 forakin Akin Akintayo

The pitfalls of implicitly delegated trust

Now, my belief at that time was that the persons who revealed these names had done all the necessary groundwork and essential thorough checking before publishing such information, however, down the chain, the level of trust reposed in those involved diminished as each of those who were at the forefront of this investigation began to extricate themselves.

Much as I would normally cross-check and verify information before I relay, this was one area where considering the evidence I was not going to vacillate between voyeurism and curiosity with a modicum of investigative analysis by watching the video – it was a responsibility I was ready to abdicate with the hope that those who did assume responsibility will use it fairly, judiciously and responsibly.

It does not excuse the fact that I was involved in mentioning one name, a situation I do deeply regret but to ignore the prevailing circumstances in the situation where there were no takers of the N200,000 reward for information and the authorities were closing ranks, the tabloid element that some have castigated and excoriated would have been the only effective way to embarrass the authorities into action.

The scornful had no sense of reality

The sanctimony with which some can postulate to appear sensible is almost rank indifference, for all the sense of appropriateness they seem to suggest, the fact is this ABSU rape case appeared to suggest that the incidences of these heinous crimes were widespread, underreported and no doubt done with impunity, else the said culprits will not have recorded the videos and then distributed them.

There is the fallacy of a supposedly cultured setting that these people subscribe to that is far off the reality and the fact that there has to come a time when our society will not sit idly by feigning cultured reserve, dignity and discretion but get involved positively, proactively and constructively.

As I went to say, there were going to be more suspects in any rape case than those indicted and more of those than they that get convicted – to think any investigation will hit the jackpot of the culprits at first attempt is literally impossible.

Just the way it is

21 September #ABSURape There will always be more suspects than arraigned & an allegation is NOT a conviction - please align your perspectives. 67 forakin Akin Akintayo

In the end, there was much to say which included 21 September If the #ABSURape case becomes a cause célèbre and towards the end a casualty of social media, that would be unfortunate. 67 forakin Akin Akintayo

With the following Tweets - 21 September #ABSURape in the light of all these events, if the authorities do not take hold of this case immediately, the injustices will be compounded. 67 forakin Akin Akintayo

21 September #ABSURape Did I not say watch and marvel at the power of social media? I forgot to end that with "to destroy people." 67 forakin Akin Akintayo

21 September #ABSURape What is done is, now we need to make the best of it and refocus on the need for justice for all concerned. 67 forakin Akin Akintayo

For the record

The most important issue at stake here is to ensure that one is referenced and quoted in context; it is all too easy to forklift a Tweet and base a whole premise on it without offering a good background as to how conversations evolved, worse still is when unrelated issues get conflated to give an completely unwholesome picture, the writers taking no responsibility for their sleight of hand and intended deceit.

This is for the record and hopefully to put things in proper context too.


[1] The ABSURape Tweets I posted

The ABSU Gang Rape Story on Storify

A Storify Record of related Tweets on the 21st & 22nd of September 2011

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