By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — In the grainy video, a Nigerian woman repeatedly asks her attackers to kill her as they take turns raping her at a university dormitory. The five men only promise to drive her home, pushing her back down each time she starts to stand up.
Local authorities have dismissed the 10-minute video, which has ricocheted around the Internet in recent days. But Nigeria’s youth minister is calling for police to prosecute the men. Some Internet users disturbed by it are even offering rewards for information.
Activists in Nigeria say the video exposes an underreported epidemic of rape in Africa’s most populous nation, and they plan to march in the coming days to draw attention to the case.
“The perpetrators go further to record it and circulate it. It shows for me that they’re daring society to take action on it,” said Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, the executive director of a Nigerian women’s rights group called Project Alert. “It shows that there’s a high level of impunity.”
The video had circulated for weeks around the campus of Abia State University near Nigeria’s southern oil-rich delta before being posted on the Internet. It appears to take place in a single-room dormitory or student hostel.
The men taking turns raping the woman who repeatedly asks to go home. “Please just kill me,” the woman cries several times. The men laugh.
Nigeria’s Youth Minister Bolaji Abdullahi has issued a statement calling for the university and police to arrest and prosecute the men shown in the video, as well as offering assistance to the woman.
“The attitude of these men, if indeed they are young Nigerians, does not represent the character and nature of the Nigerian youth,” the minister said.
However, the university and state government officials have denied the video’s authenticity and that it took place near or on school grounds, Effah-Chukwuma said.
Abia state police spokesman Geoffrey Ogbonna told The Associated Press on Tuesday that no one reported the rape to university officials or to any of the state’s police precincts. He said he searched for the video on the Internet only after hearing about it.
“From the look of things, I don’t think such a thing happened,” Ogbonna said. “All I know is that state command is not aware of such an incident.”
Rape is rarely reported to authorities in Nigeria — only 1,952 cases in 2009, according to federal police statistics posted on a website called Nigeria Police Watch. However, a 2006 Amnesty International report said those numbers are believed to “be sporadic, piecemeal and inconsistent” in a nation of 150 million people.
Nigeria’s federal police force also remains largely incapable of investigating crimes, as its officers routinely harass motorists for bribes at checkpoints and arrest citizens randomly to collect so-called “bail money.”
Activists say they fear for the woman shown being attacked in the video, who now may be shunned by those who can identify her face.
“Why should I come out and speak of my victimization when I’m going to receive secondary victimization?” Effah-Chukwuma asked. “The whole society blames (the victim).”