In September, a horrifying video came to light at Abia State University in Nigeria, depicting five men gang-raping a young woman as she begged them to just kill her. Concerned citizens in Nigeria and around the world, activists, and bloggers called for the “ABSU5” to be brought to justice, denouncing the culture of impunity that led these criminals to believe they could get away with taping and distributing their assault. Yet University and Abia State officials refused to take action, denying the violent act occurred in their jurisdiction without investigating. The Assistant Commissioner of Police, J.G. Micloth, even claimed that the brutal attack looked consensual — or was punishment for the girl somehow shaming her boyfriend — to excuse their failure to act.
More than 90,000 Change.org members worldwide signed a petition by Adetomi Aladekomo, a Nigerian rape survivor now living in Canada, calling for these men to be arrested and prosecuted. Finally, last month Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mohammad Adoke intervened in the case, demanding that the Inspector-General of Police investigate the assault. Carol Aije, a Nigerian lawyer who deals with sexual violence cases across the country and has collaborated with the Change.org campaign, directly petitioned the Attorney General’s office urging this action, adding to the protests occurring online and on the ground.
This is significant progress. But the campaign isn’t over. Though Attorney General Adoke ordered a full investigation, it hasn’t happened yet. And Nigeria’s law enforcement has been all stirred up, with former Inspector-General Hafiz Ringim removed from his position for incompetence dealing with terrorism. For the campaign to succeed, international attention must continue to make sure that the new Inspector-General, Mohammad Abubakar, follows through with the investigation, and the Attorney General keeps an eye on the proceedings.
Adetomi also hopes to see a law strengthening violence against women legislation, which would also help victims such as Franca Ogbu, a student deeply disfigured by an acid attack whose assailant remains at large. To add your voice to Adetomi’s campaign and help bring the gang-rapists to justice, you can sign the petition here.