More than 85,000 people worldwide have joined a Nigerian woman’s popular campaign on Change.org calling on officials in Nigeria to arrest five men who videotaped themselves gang-raping a young woman.
Adetomi Aladekomo, who grew up in Nigeria and still has family there, launched the petition on Change.org after being sent the horrifying video, which depicts an hour of a brutal gang-rape by five men reported to be Abia State University (ABSU) students. The ABSU vice chancellor, Abia State governor, and local law enforcement reportedly denied the assault without conducting a proper investigation. Adetomi, a rape survivor herself, decided to take action to hold the officials accountable.
“When I created this petition I was concerned with finding the men who committed this heinous act,” stated Adetomi. “Now I realize that the issue is bigger than these five men. We need to have an educated and caring government that bothers to fact-check before rashly taking a stand or declaring that despite video evidence, a rape did not take place.”
Faced with international pressure, Abia Governor Theodore Orji has retracted his insistence that the assault did not occur. On Wednesday, the House of Assembly intervened, summoning State Police Commissioner Bala Hassan and ABSU Vice Chancellor Professor Chibuzo Ogbuagu. As of today, Nigerian law enforcement has made its first arrests in the case, with Minister of Youth Affairs Mobolaji Abudllahi reporting that one rapist has been conclusively identified.
This campaign is a remarkable example of how a single person can bring about major change. Fed up with rampant rape and cover-ups in her home country, Adetomi Aladekomo decided to do something about it. 85,000 signatures later, her campaign has already had a major impact on Nigerian officials.
A coalition of Nigerian organizations and activists – including Enough is Enough Nigeria, Project Alert, Rubies Ink, Delta Women, and National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) – has organized a rape walk for Wednesday, October 5 from the Okpara Square Monument in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, to the State House.
Solidarity walks will also be occurring on the same day in Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria. The march and the petition campaign will continue to ask not only for the “ABSU 5” to brought to justice but also for an improvement in state law and university policy on sexual violence.