Tabloid bloggers, online vigilantes & sexual violence

On Saturday 17th Nigerian blogger Linda Ikeji reported the “gang rape of a young woman of Abia State University” which had been videoed, circulated and broadcast over the internet and is apparently on multiple sites together with an audio version. Linda Ikeji states that she has a one hour video on her laptop plus a 10 minute version on  her phone. She also states that  uploading it on the internet is not an option.

In the one week since the announcement of the gang rape, under the guise of outrage and desires for justice, the case has become a spectacle played out on Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

In a recent blog post critiquing the 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria, I made the point that what is often most important in revealing who we are as a nation and people, is how we respond to our realities.  How do we respond to the gang rape of a young woman and one which is subsequently broadcast on various online sites?  Linda Ikeji gave enough graphic detail for all of us to know how the rape scene played out.   Yet some people continue watching and or listening to the video and reporting details of what was said and done?   To do this they would need to search online or ask someone privately for a copy to be sent by email or through their phone or for a link online.    These are not small acts – they are calculated decisions to seek out a video of a gang rape.   Unless you are in a position to possibly identify the rapists and take that information to someone who can act on it then what is your purpose in watching the video other than for self-gratification? Each time the video is watched or listened to or the text read it is a repeat of the rape,  which is exactly the purpose of the video – to continue the humiliation, the subjugation and to relive the rape over and over.

It is not normal for women to be treated in this way.  The way the video is being circulated is a way of normalising watching violence and playing it out as if it’s some kind of reality show whereby everyone can participate by absorbing and gorging on detail without any sense of social or ethical responsibility.    I am not saying people are not genuinely outraged by the gang rape, they most certainly are but its  a pretense to equate outrage with a justification for watching the video.  This pornographic video has been downloaded 7000+  times from a Nigerian online site and was available until this morning.  How about some outrage against this and the money that is being made from it?   The site has be taken down but those downloads remain.

Calls through various social media and politicians for the young victim of this heinous act, to come forward and present herself are equally alarming and lack any understanding of the depth of trauma experienced by rape victims as made clear by  Modupe Debbie Aryio of Africans United Against Child Abuse [AFRUCA]

AS A MENTAL HEALTH PRACTITIONER, PSYCHOTHERAPIST/COUNSELLOR WHO HAS WORK FOR OVER 20YRS WITH TRAUMA VICTIMS, VICTIMS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE, DV AND RAPE VICTIMS, I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO PUT UNDUE PRESSURE ON THIS YOUNG LADY SO SHE DOES FEEL ADDITIONALLY ‘RAPED’ AGAIN BY ALL THE FURORE THAT SURROUNDS HER. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING AT THIS TIME FOR HER IS TO BE ABLE TO GET THE PSYCHOLOGICAL,EMOTIONAL AND ANY OTHER MEDICAL SUPPORT SHE MAY NEED AS A RESULT OF THIS HORRENDOUS ACT PERPETRATED ON HER. WHILE THE ANGER AND INSTINCTUAL CRY FOR JUSTICE ON HER BEHALF IS

NEEDS TO TAKE PLACE, WE MUST REMEMBER THAT THE MAJORITY OF US ARE COMING FROM A PLACE OF STRENGTH AND WELL BEING. HER EXTREME VULNERABILITY, SHOCK AND FEAR MUST BE RECOGNISED AND UNDERSTOOD. EVEN IN THE WEST WHERE THERE ARE ALL THE SYSTEMS IN PLACE TO PROTECT AND CARE FOR ‘VICTIMS’, THERE IS STILL A LOT OF STIGMA PLACED ON RAPE VICTIMS, WHICH IS WHY MANY OF THEM DO NOT REPORT IT. AND FOR SOME THEY ARE SIMPLY UNABLE TO DEAL WITH THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WEIGHT OF THE EXPERIENCE AND HAVE TAKEN SEVERAL YEARS BEFORE THEY CAN COME TO TERMS WITH IT.

From the place of strength I considered myself to be in, I cannot imagine myself being able to speak of this publicly, certainly not at this point and certainly not in Nigeria.   There are very few support systems in place, if any  and even if there were it would take exceptional strength to speak.  No woman should be pressured into doing this.  And to come out to what?    Who is she supposed to present herself too? The police who only began to investigate the gang rape after it was taken up by a Member of the Federal House of Representatives, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who presented the case to the House.  The police with a reputation for corruption, ineptitude, extra-judicial murder, misogyny, rape and torture?  The Abia State government which is led by a Governor and his wife who have repeatedly dismissed the case and refused to take any action other than making ridiculous statements such as the rape is the work of political protractors and his wife waffling on about the “good” work she is doing for women in her state?  The Abia State university authorities who claim the rapists are not students and do not appear to have done anything to move the case forward?   Even the Member of the House of Representatives, who has offered to protect her [how she will do this?] does not seem to recognise the trauma involved here.

On Wednesday tweeps began to appear about outing the rapists.  I watched with horror as very soon three names were retweeted from a Nigerian blog  including one photograph taken from a Facebook page. Sometime later  two of those  who had  published the name, clearly realising what they had set in motion,  began to retract by  first deleting the names and sending out panic messages not to harm the men.  Statements such as

 

“Please do not retweet the names of the ‘suspects’ for the safety of the victim” and “No harassing the suspects until we’ve got double confirmations.  Until then, use these names to try and FIND THE OTHERS!!!!!” “Names are for investigation not lynching. RESTRAIN YOURSELVES PEOPLE!! NO LYNCHING!! LYNCHING IS WRONG!! OBEY THE LAW!! @Sugabelly

“What’s done is, now we need to make the best of it and refocus on the need for justice for all concerned” , For all the indignation and concern people might have, the best concerted appeal to all should be – No resorting to mob action” @Forakin

Statements such as “Again, the issue of instant justice stems from the fact that our society does not help guarantee justice when sought” and “if the police & ABSU authorizes had been proactive  rather than in denial the names could have gone straight to them” @Forakin

 

Fortunately there was some sanity in all the madness  and wise words emerged from the occasional person.

 

The consequences of irresponsibly rushing to be  social media vigilantes – “cops, judge and jury via social media” slowly became evident as  it  turns out that one of the named men, whose photo was also published,  has been wrongly identified.  The ‘mistake” has been repeatedly tweeted and an apology given by @Sugabelly who had tweeted his name, though not the only one.  And yes men are quick to slag off women  and could care less about our reputations whilst screaming at the first hint of any slight against them. However I dont wish to follow their standards  of conduct and mistaking someone for a rapist is not a small matter.

We should not forget  too the video has a history  and has been uploaded 7000+ times, passing from computer to phone.  As far as I am concerned they too are complicit in the rape and should face criminal charges. We can start with the  @9jaonline videos, the site which up till early this morning continued to make the video available for download as if this was some make believe Nollywood movie which is vile enough in itself.  [The site and their Twitter account have been removed in the past 6 hours]   It cannot be that difficult to trace the origins and those who have participated in watching it.  @Sugabelly tweeted for them and others to stop posting the video…

@9janonlinevideos STOP THIS!! STOP posting this video!! Stop trying to profit from the #ABSURape #ABSU @Sugabelly

“I am so disgusted and horrified by people who are actually trying to PROFIT from the #ABSU rape video by using it too…. @Sugabelly

The blogger who, as far as I am aware, originally published the names made the ill-considered  decision to publish further photographs, along with Sahara Reporters,  from Facebook pages with the comment:

Could the photos below be innocent people who have been wrongly accused for the Abia State University (ABSU) gang of 5? If they are, could they report to the nearest police station or better still engage the services of lawyers to file for libel.

On Wednesday, 21st September, 2011, I took a risk to take this scandalous case to another level by publishing the names as well as the photos taken from Face Book. I was blasted by an aggrieved lady blogger who thought only her had the exclusive right to publish or write or investigate this case. I had made my point. I chose to withdraw the post. I will now go back to remove the password to enable viewers read and properly view these SUSPECTS. Of course, they are alleged rapists. They are only Suspects. And the blogger (whom I had adjudged on her post when she recently celebrated her birthday as the Nigeria’s no 1 blogger) had the unprofessional act to paste a comment on this blog calling me irresponsible. Well,I rest my case. But has the blogger and her fans ever bothered while these suspected rapists haven’t made any statement via their lawyers?

The justification is about “exposing Nigeria in a bad light” as if such horrendous crimes only take place in Nigeria.  It’s responses like this that “put the country in bad light” not the crimes themselves.    The questions that come to mind are how do we differentiate between playing out a reality show and genuine search for the truth and subsequently justice? What are our responsibilities in our online presence?  How do we stop at crossing the line between sensationalist reporting, self aggrandisement and socially responsible actions?

Blame the technology?  The templates are technical, the substance is of our own creation whether original or otherwise which in this case is a series of collision movements pushing one force against another.  Social Media as a functional space is  self-censored and self-regulated and with that comes social and ethical responsibilities as reputations are at risk here.  Acting as online vigilantes and challenging people to sue you for libel is just plain wrong. When the vigilantism falls under the headlines “Exclusive” it is not surprising one would be accused of “driving traffic to your blog” – it almost feels like an act of desperation!   Whatever the failings of  the Nigerian police a choice could have been made to pass this information to them or to those House Members who have expressed a willingness to take the case on board.  Alternatively pass the information on to a media network who have the resources and trust to carry out a proper investigation.   This is not withstanding the fact that these exposes may themselves hamper or end up being prejudicial to the case..

Perhaps thought and a great deal of it should be given to the young woman at the center of this crime and those  insisting on perpetuating the repetitive tabloid outrage need ask themselves whether this is really about her or themselves.  A coalition of groups have announced this morning  that they have found the young woman.  What right do they have to go in search of the young woman and then present us with more lurid  of  details on her emotional and psychological state. If they really wanted to protect her they would have kept their actions quiet instead of adding to the media circus.

Thoughts on how we as a nation can begin to create safe and supportive spaces for victims of sexual violence and how we can begin to counteract the stigma associated with rape.  So many of us have been raped, sexually abused, fought off numerous attempted rapes and have been subjected to continuous sexual harassment which is normalised to the point that we are not even supposed to speak of it –  at home, at work, at college and in social spaces.

So perhaps those men so outraged by this awful crime could  look too themselves and begin to address their belief  they have an entitlement to our bodies and the daily sexual harassment  and sexist, misogynist attitudes they have towards women which takes place off and online.   We all  need to call out these acts of online sexual harassment, every time they happen from NOW!

UPDATE

Police in Abia State have arrested two alleged rapists “one Zaki and his roommate last night”

39 thoughts on “Tabloid bloggers, online vigilantes & sexual violence”

  1. Thank you for putting this timeline to words. It will prove instrumental, you’ll see.

    I cannot, for one second, imagine watching someone go through a rape, and still am shocked that so many people did so.

    That is not THE way, or any way to challenge the physical, mental, verbal or societal abuse of women and the less fortunate.

    You mention that “what is often most important in revealing who we are as a nation and people, is how we respond to our realities” and again, I agree. Sadly, this most unfortunate situation only revealed how horrible and culpable we all are for the decay that is Nigerian society. A poor lady RAPED (I should say allegedly until it is proven, but forgive the disregard for political correctness, at this moment) by her peers. A people outraged but powerless to force appropriate action on her behalf. Government officials and administrators who deny that any assault occurred. Individuals frustrated by the lack of justice who then go overboard, release names and potentially put others who may or may not have committed a crime at risk, only to then backpedal after the damage has been done. And the problems go on.

    I wish I had something profound to add, but as I have mentioned to you personally, we as a nation, as a people, are not ready to deal with who we are. The good, the bad and the ugly. We are too busy chasing money, website hits, popularity, and thirsty for fame/infamy that we have all lost our common sense.

    If people really want to help this poor lady, get her OUT OF THE COUNTRY!!!!  She needs medical treatment, someone trained to talk to and hopefully begin the journey towards overcoming this most horrible period in her life and we Nigerians who will not show her dignity but continue to parade her misfortune as if we have a right to be entertained by it.

  2. Thank you very much for this. I was very disturbed when I saw that the very first commenter on the Linda Ikeji story asked for her to post the video. I had no idea that it was actually being circulated on the internet. I have stayed away from tweeting/sharing/blogging the issue because of the reasons you pointed out here. Watching the video, passing it around, sharing information about it, hastily publishing the names of alleged rapists when nobody can/has confirmed it are not just actions in bad judgement and serious distaste, the actions also translate to the invasion of the privacy of someone who has been so violated. I hope she gets as much help as possible – part of which is help in protecting her privacy, and in regaining a sense of control over her own body. 

    1. Loomnie@ Although the ‘outrage’ is the rape of the young woman she has been lost in the social media circus. The group who found her to a large extent invaded her privacy by seannouncement and then announcing their ‘exclusive’.

      SolomonSydelle@ Your point about people feeling powerless is an excellent one and clearly plays some part behind some of the actions but people need to breathe. Still there is a desperation, a hunger for fame, a me me me about the responses. You are so right we are not ready to deal with ‘the bad & the ugly’ – not really and yet in times like this we lay out ourselves naked for the world to see and worse don’t even realize it.

  3. I think the internet is becoming fashionable as a means of self-assertion. This is very inspiring, and will form the subject of my next post. Thanks.

  4. Thank you so much for this voice of reason. You will recall I posted 3 tweets on this grotesque circus on September 19:
     “Won’t watch the Abia State University gang rape video… / Would watching ABSU rape video (a whole hour!) for non-legal proceedings purposes make me morally complicit?/As viral viewing for millions, the rape video debases victim further. Voyeurism, despite our outrage.”

    The  moral quagmire has been apparent to me from Day 1; and I was horrified to see tweets by people asking for the Rape video to be sent to them! One female tweeted that she’d just watched the rape hour-long video and she’d been crying non-stop and all I wanted to say was: You mean you could watch it? What does that say about you?

    Then the spectacle of online vigilantes, some one whom you’ve named here, not realising that they are causing my harm than good by posting names/images of ‘suspects’ - and then the desperate/childish retractions and counter-accusations. The battle of supremacy by bloggers who felt this was their natural territory, their “exclusive” and the hideous concern with driving “traffic” to blogs! As you rightly say, these actions and pronouncements say more about the online personas involved, than the rape itself or the uproar over it.

    People on their comfortable desks in Lagos and London tweeting about how they’re “investigating” a gang rape in faraway Abia – this is not The Famous Five!

    I’m particularly saddened when people praise a certain blogger for all she’s doing for justice, women and society – when she’s in fact a sensationalist of the worst kind, one whose primary constituency is a blog chock-ful with paid advertising because of that precious “traffic”.

    What aspect is there not be sad about in this sorry matter? It’s a sad time.

  5. @Wordsbody Thank you for pointing out these additional observations. It is unfortunate that many Nigerian blogs have chosen the monetary / traffic option though this does not prevent one from having integrity. And for the record the video was back up yesterday morning. I would have thought rape videos were illegal

  6. Emmanuel@ What is happening in the Gang Rape case is more like a very crude self-aggrandizement and NNNN$$$$$!!!! than self-assertion and I cant see what is inspiring about this at all. I am sure you mean something else? or maybe you could explain further?

  7. @Emmanuel – I cant see what is inspiring about any of the online activity around the gang rape case. Its more like self-aggrandisement and NNNN$$$$!!! than anything to do with empowerment or self-assertion. I am wondering if I have misunderstood your comment?

  8. I hope she can me helped into a safe space and provided with the necessary care but this should be done quietly.  It is disturbing that people feel they need to announce this with such fan fair! 

  9. I had noticed that there were a number of tweeps who had not participated in this horrid frenzy – and people falling over themselves because the story had been picked up by UK and US media! 

  10. I think you misunderstood me. I am talking about the ‘intellectual stupidity’ that accompanies most online blogging. Your post made me think more deeply about this stupidity. That’s what inspiring. It is a shame that with online access, the dumb can become a self-asserted messiah. I feel terrible that I could have been misunderstood.

  11. I knew it must be a misunderstanding. Thanks for the clarification and that the post has inspired you to examine these issues more closely – Check out this piece from 2007, not great but it also address some of these issues and of course the one I submitted for Saraba if you recall. http://www.blacklooks.org/2006/03/freedom_to_abuse/

  12. How the distribution of the video standard is a game to see violence and a bit like a reality show in which everyone can participate, devouring any sense of social responsibility and ethics in the shape of the absorption and details.

  13. Well done. Your article really addressed the issue. We have a responsibility to protect victims and to respect their human rights. This is a call to action for everyone to respond appropriately to Sexual violence.

  14. I reported the site that hosted the video to their hosting company, then got abusive emails from the site owner. 
    Who boasted about where he lived (UK) and how many web companies he owned (30), he didn’t need to by the way as I had already found most of the numerous naija and ghana jobs websites he is responsible for.
    I forwarded the email to his hosting company and it is being investigated. 

    To nip this in the bud, we need to stop negotiating with people like this. Cut them off at the root or to with their superiors. Don’t engage them.

  15. Hi Soul – Are you THE N Soul of back in the day? A number of people have said they reported the site and I assume from your comment that the video is still up so I must do so myself. The response sadly is once again typical of someone running such a site – so arrogant so ignorant. I completely agree this is a no negotiation situation and just for the record people are still requesting the video on Twitter and FB

  16. Erm, just so we’re clear. I didn’t watch that video because it was entertaining. I watched it because I KNEW the police wouldn’t do anything (and they didn’t.. they denied everything until they were forced to).

    Also, I tweeted everybody who wrote an article about the rape fair and square. Unfortunately I happened to tweet the particular post that contained the wrong names that caused the false accusations. This is how it spread and I felt I should at least retract since it was my tweet that led to many people knowing about it. 

    And I did not do what I did on this rape case because of publicity or traffic or because I wanted to play detective. Anyone who has been part of the Nigerian blogging community for any length of time knows that I blog because I feel like it and nothing else.

    And for all your remarks, if I and other people had not said something, the rape victim would still be without support and the nothing would be done. The video did after all circulate for a month without anyone thinking to report it.

    I am not saying this because I particularly care about whether or not I am being criticised but I am saying this because I know why I tried to help and your “analyis” on why is completely off the mark as far as I am concerned. I tried to help because I was raped too. And when it happened to me, NOONE tried to help me. Not a single person. I was told to shut up and forget it as quickly as possible. Yeah, my “help” wasn’t perfect, but I did what I could from where I am (which is not in Nigeria), and hopefully the little I did will help the victim in some way. 

    If feeling the need to apologise for mistakes made in order to prevent someone from being falsely accused of being a rapist is a bad thing then I don’t know what you consider good.

  17. Sugabelly – With regard to watching the video. I did not accuse you of watching the video for entertainment WHY? Because until now I was not aware you had watched the video. In any event you need to read the post carefully where I write

    “Unless you are in a position to possibly identify the rapists and take that information to someone who can act on it then what is your purpose in watching the video other than for self-gratification?”

    Secondly, your name was mentioned because you tweeted the alleged names of rapists [a fact] then on discovering you had misidentified one of the alleged rapists, retracted [fact] you then repeatedly apologised [fact] – this is all I wrote about you in this piece – another fact is you were not the only one, @forakin was also mentioned and others retweeted the names.

    Thirdly, if you read the post carefully you will see that no where does it imply you blog for publicity or traffic so I dont know how you come to that conclusion unless you imagine this blog post is solely about you – for the record it is not. It is about the online response of Nigerians to this violent act.

    My criticism of the online responses is not because people had acted but the WAY people have acted. This could have been done in a far more responsible manner without resorting to what I consider online vigilantes – people could have been beaten killed and then what? For example once the information was available it could have been passed to one or two House Representatives who had already come out with very supportive statements which I believe could have been trusted to at least give them a chance to act. Then why PUBLISH the fact the young woman has been found – who benefits from that publicity, certainly not her!

    It is unfortunate that you feel this post is about you. It is not – it is about a young woman who was raped and continues to be violated online and yes there are many who are making good out of this for themselves so lets speak that clearly.

    As I stated at the end of the post – the real issue here is that many of us have been raped or suffered repeated attempted rapes, sexual abuse as children, sexual harassment every day [all of which has happened to me personally and practically every woman I know] – and meanwhile the young woman continues to be raped over and over as that video is watched and circulated online –

  18. I think you misunderstood my comment. I wasn’t writing the comment in response to your blog post itself. 

    I wrote the comment in response to Wordsbody’s comment. I did read your entire post and for the most part I agreed.

  19. Haha, I just realised something. You’re the one who made the mistake here.

    It’s not that I thought the post was about me, but it’s that you thought that I thought the post was about me.

    I never thought for a moment that the blog post was about me, but I did think that Wordsbody’s comment claiming that bloggers who wrote about the rape just wanted to drive traffic to their blogs was pretty unfair, especially since I’m sure that most of the bloggers who wrote about the rape probably wrote for the same reason that everyone in general talked about it – concern and disgust.

  20. Great, I’m leaving yet another comment. Sorry for spamming your blog with multiple comments but I think I didn’t really get what I was trying to say across.

    The SPECIFIC reason I commented was because of the line in Wordsbody’s comment that said “posting CHILDISH retractions”. And of course the whole thing about blogging because of traffic.

    This is what in particular I was responding to and the reason why I commented.

    Wordsbody saying “Childish retractions” upset me a lot because I don’t understand why Wordsbody thinks that posting an apology and a retraction if you found out that you made a mistake that might hurt somebody is “childish”.

    I really found that specific statement ridiculous because I am wondering what Wordsbody would have preferred I do in that scenario: Not saying anything? Say “Oh well, poor guy” and move on? 

    I don’t understand. 

    Granted I made a mistake, but at the same time, that mistake could have hurt or damaged somebody. I don’t see how actually trying to correct the mistake and make sure that the person affected by my mistake doesn’t get hurt is a bad thing.

    If anybody has any insight on this, or if Wordsbody would like to expantiate on the meaning of that statement, I’d be glad to hear it.

  21. If you did not think the post was about you why did you take Wordsbody’s comments to be about you when other bloggers also had reports on the case – two of which were linked to in this post. Your blog was never mentioned!

  22. Because Wordsbody mentioned the retraction. The retraction thing / the tweet of the post that led to the false accusation were referring to me because I was the one who wrote/posted a retraction and an apology and tweeted that the information I had tweeted before was wrong.

    It wasn’t because I thought the post was about me, it was Wordsbody’s comment that partially referred to me (in that line about the retraction).

  23. I stand by everything I wrote. I was referring generally to the online vigilantes, and if you feel that includes you, then fine.
     
    You are not in Nigeria and you’re “investigating” a rape in Abia – think how ridiculous that is. This is not child’s play; there are real lives at stake here: the victim and the falsely accused.

    Who gave you the right to broadcast the names of ‘suspects’? Are you aware that falsely accusing someone of rape is a grave offence in itself? Whoever had access to those names should have passed them on to the authorities andor advocacy groups. The names should never have been broadcast on the net. Now that ‘Zaki’ has been released and exonerated by the police, can you imagine the stigma he will still have to endure in his community just by his name being mentioned in tandem with a gang-rape? A word is an egg, once broken you can’t scoop it back.
     
    Your – yes, immature – retraction would never have been needed if you’d exercised responsibility in handling sensitive information in the first place. You and other online vigilantes have gone about this in a way that not only hampers successful investigation, but will ultimately prove to prejudicial to legal proceedings, which could frustrate any chances of successful conviction.
     
    I’m sorry you were, as you say, raped, but you can’t overcompensate for that misfortune by playing war games where the pains of others are concerned.
     
    I insist also that there is something hideous about being able to watch an hour-long video of a gang rape, especially if you are female. As  someone has commented here and I agree:
    “The distribution of the video standard is a game to see violence and a bit like a reality show in which everyone can participate, [without] any sense of social responsibility and ethics.”
     
    I don’t know why you think the reference to blogs and traffic refers to you specifically. Lots of bloggers were involved. I have never been to your blog, didn’t even know you had one.
     
    Bottom line is, I’m not prepared to valorise you or other online vigilantes who rode roughshod over this unfortunate matter. I observed most of the antics with horror, and I agree with Sokari completely.

  24. It’s made my day knowing this is you – we were kind of pioneers you realise and you and I have been down a similar road before Twitter and Facebook and new irresponsibilities.

    You are right on the engaging to change – reason only works when we are prepared to think clearly about what we are saying. Stay well, old friend.

  25. Wordsbody – once again thank you for your comment. We need to speak this as it is.

  26. First of all Wordsbody, I wasn’t “investigating” the rape. I’m not a police officer or a detective. I specifically said if anyone knew anything or had any information to post it so it could be reported. I never thought this was a joke.

    Second, I did not broadcast the names of the suspects. I posted the names that were in the video.

    This means that whether I posted them or not, anybody would have been able to get the SAME set of names by simply watching the video.

    This ALSO means, that NO MATTER WHAT if the police had originally investigated and seen the video as evidence, Zaki (in particular) would have still been arrested (at least if nothing else for interrogation) because his name IS MENTIONED IN THE VIDEO.

    Now about the names of the suspects (i.e. the full names that were going around). I tweeted a post by Baba Jide Salu where he wrote the full names – which we now know were wrong.

    It wasn’t as if I “specially” tweeted Baba Jide Salu’s blog post to the exclusion of others. I tweeted EVERYBODY who wrote a post or a news article about the rape, his post included. And when I found out his post was wrong I retracted.

    Finally about the video, I didn’t watch the hour long video, I watched the ten minute clip. Also, in my blog post I said that even before watching the video I already felt panicky and nauseated but I watched it because it had already been going around for a month and I knew nothing was being done or was going to be done.

    Yes, the way everything happened could certainly have been handled better, but that’s what happens when the police doesn’t do its job.

    I’m not asking you to praise anybody here least of all me, but you sound as if you think that if noone (i.e no bloggers had written about it, noone had talked about it, etc) had done anything, the police would have jumped in and investigated, and the case would be swiftly tried, and everything would end up happily ever after. 

    I understand your point, but you also need to realise that if we had all sat on our hands and twiddled our thumbs and said “how horrible”, the police wouldn’t even be investigating this at all. After all didn’t they say the rape never happened in the first place?

    Yes, I’m in America, and the rape happened in Abia, but I did what little I could because I cared.  Maybe I didn’t do that great because I’m not a trained police officer but at least things are one step closer to being right for the victim.

    You are able to sit back and pick everything apart now only because anything was done in the first place. Had nothing been done at all, we would all be saying “oh another girl got raped in Nigeria. Eyaa.” 

    So, I’m sorry I’m not a police detective and I’m sorry the Nigerian Police didn’t do its job in the first place.  I was never playing “investigator” and I only tried to help. Yes, I understand that being falsely accused is horrible, and that is WHY I sent out so many tweets and retractions and apologies because I didn’t want the person affected to be stained by that so I had to let as many people as possible know that he was innocent. 

    Maybe this is childish to you and maybe you’d be happier if noone had done anything and the rape victim was still where she was. 

  27. Sorry I’m commenting yet again, but did you think we didn’t try? Did you honestly think that we didn’t try to tell the police immediately?

    The first people that were contacted were : The Police, The Vice Chancellor of ABSU, and the Governor of Abia State. 

    And do you know what they ALL said?

    They ALL said THE RAPE NEVER HAPPENED.

    The Abia State Governor specifically said that the rape was a HOAX organised by his POLITICAL DETRACTORS.

    I find it amazing that you think that Nigeria has a working police system where crimes are just reported to the police and they handle everything and justice works in favour of all.

    What do you think happens when you try to report a crime to the police and they insist it never happened???

  28. I deleted all my comments because I don’t think there’s any point arguing this.

  29. Two lessons here. The first is there are consequences for the actions and words we write. The second is whist you are obviously free to delete anything from your own blog, deleting from someone else’s blog is taking liberties. The only person authorized to moderate and if necessary delete from my blog is myself.

    We have all said things we regret including myself but we have to deal with it and live with it and try to not make those same mistakes again.

    I am taking this up with Disqus to prevent anyone from ever doing this again and once sorted I intend to restore all the comments.

  30. Sugabelly,
    Please don’t twist my words. It is not the fact that attention was called to the gang rape and the existence of a video that I quarrel with. What troubles me greatly, is the gung ho attitude of people like yourself, and the extreme measures you took without considering the ramifications of your actions.
    Let’s be clear: tweeting names of suspected rapists on Twitter/blogs is a ‘broadcast’. Your argument that anyone who saw the video could have posted the names, doesn’t wash. What we know is that you tweeted them to thousands who had not seen the video. You and/or your fellow vigilantes also took it upon yourselves to tie the otherwise commonplace names to specific individuals by matching them with images, Facebook pages etc.
    One female blogger posted (post since disappeared) that she’d sent some names to a male blogger as people who could assist with investigations (don’t know who assigned her this role), only for him to post them on his blog. She claimed that (innocent) ‘Zaki’ had been arrested as a result (the male blogger in turn accused her of wanting to protect her “exclusive” and blog “traffic”) . Rightly or wrongly, the male blogger became your fall guy/alibi when pressure mounted on you; it was his fault for posting the wrong names, you repeatedly tweeted. You refused to face up to the consequences of your own actions, conveniently forgetting that you’d earlier posted 5 names of your own, including ‘Zaki’.
    You talk glibly now of how you made “mistakes”. You’ll move on, but there’s no moving on for those directly affected by this, especially the victim. You seem to think those of us that did not go the ‘online vigilante’ route care less about this grave offence. You say we “twiddled our thumbs” — how wrong you are; we exercised Restraint and Responsibility. That you made the loudest noise, by your estimation, does not make you any more caring, effective or helpful.
    I find it particularly offensive that you seem to be claiming victory for whatever you think is being done on the case. Haven’t you read that the trail has gone cold? Are the authorities any nearer to apprehending the perpetrators, apart from the ones you “misidentified”? Is the victim going to get justice? She does not feel able to come forward and one prominent social commentator has said, sadly, that “the matter should end there.” So, what victory are you claiming?
    I don’t follow you on Twitter, but I recall retweets in which you claimed to have seen the video; of course I had no way of knowing which version/length you saw. It was enough that you saw it. I also vaguely remember a retweet in which you said words to the effect that you guys were “investigating” the rape. Now that you deny saying such, I’ve gone to your Twitter account today and looked at your tweets over the course of many days. There is no evidence of the “investigating” tweet, but then you readily admit to having deleted many of your own tweets to ‘rectify’ your “mistakes”, just as you’ve come to Blacklooks to delete comments, so who knows?
    Moreover, the undercurrents I picked up today from reading your tweets on the gang rape, paint a pretty disturbing picture indeed. I will give examples:
     
    Sept 18:
    - You tweeted: “I watched the video and got the names of rapists” — then you did a link to your blog post, ‘I Am Calling [For] A Human Flesh Search’, in which you gave the names of 5 suspects.
    - When someone tweeted caution over your ‘suggestion’, you replied, “Uchenna is not an alleged rapist, he is a GUILTY rapist…” / “It wasn’t a suggestion. Uchenna is definitely one of the rapists. I heard the victim herself say ‘Uchenna please stop’”.
    - You also tweeted : “I haven’t been able to get the full video” — which definitely suggests that you’d have been prepared to watch the longer version of the horror.
     
    Sept 22:
    -  You assumed the role of Protector & Strategist, when you posted tweets along this line: “We’ve agreed not to tweet names or faces until we’re sure the victim is safe. We don’t want to put her in danger.”
    - The above shows that the re/tweeting of names posted by the male blogger was not a spur of the moment thing, contrary to your protestations.
     
    Later:
    - When you discovered that you had “misidentified” at least one person, you became the Exonerator, ‘fighting’ to clear his name by posting tweets and arm-twisting others to retweet them; and “flooding” ABSU tags with a deluge of tweets. Why, you even tried to retweet your own tweets! Anyone who expressed concern about your methods, was accused of hampering your good work or called a “hypocrite”.  
     
    Defences:
    - In your Crusader mode, these were among the retorts you tweeted in defence of your actions:
    - “He was misidenfied”
    - Please retweet… so we can clear his name”
    - “Maybe if you’d wished me luck from the get go, Mr —‘s name might be cleared faster”
    - “[I am] the only one trying to clear his name”
    ***The self-importance of the above is just so galling! But let’s continue***
    - “I’ve posted a couple thousand tweets in the past few days”
    - “I seriously doubt anyone identified suspects for fame. I think everyone retweeted because they care about the case”
    - “Everyone that spoke out [did so] because they were appalled by the rape not because of importance”
     
    Voices of Reason:
    ***I was impressed to see tweets by the following, all of whom you ignored or shouted down***
    Kingkc1: “I think you were so in a hurry to catch the ‘rapist’ which can’t be done online”
    Kingkc1: “I don’t think [Sugabelly] has realised the extent of the damage. Trying to share/shift blame, [and] praising herself for attempting damage control?”
    Tundewoods: “Twitter now makes some peeps feel important and [think that they are] advocates or activists”
    Kritzmoritz: “You opened the pandora’s box.”
    Tehdeebee: “Overzealous [tweeters]… Playing cops, judge and jury via social media” (retweeted by you without any sense of irony).
     
    Conclusion:
    Just as you retweeted Tehbeebee’s tweet without realising it may have been referring to the likes of you, you kept asking on Twitter: “How can you profit from someone else’s rape? That is so horrible” — this, about the website offering the video for download. And yet you did not realise that by watching the video, and tweeting over and over again that you did so, you were helping that “horrible” site to profit. If you don’t want people to profit from something, don’t consume or buy into it. It’s the only way.
    After the ABSU rape scandal, another story broke about yet another gang rape that allegedly took place at UNIBEN, again recorded on video. You tweeted again, “Yeah, it’s real. I saw it and it was even more horrible than the ABSU one.” Is there a pattern here? Or do you seem to make a habit of watching rape videos?
    Sugabelly, when is the penny going to drop? You messed up. I think you need a period of Silence and Reflection over your handling of this matter.
     
    Wordsbody

  31. it was annouced she was found i think(i think) because there was already some reports online suggesting she was dead. that kind of report could put ideas into peoples heads.

  32. The story just gets worse – this may well have been but what we see here are people feeding off the victim of a gang rape and then to learn that so many have watched this video – some claiming in the interest of “investigation” or “justice” some for vile gratification – well its sickening!

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