Nigerian police have arrested two people in connection with the horrific gang rape of a woman that was videotaped by the perpetrators and posted on the internet.
The rape, reportedly by five men, occurred in a dormitory at a university in Abia State, in the southeastern part of the West African nation. The case has prompted widespread fury across Nigeria, both for the brutal nature of the offense, but also against the initial perceived apathy of state police and government officials in finding the transgressors.
Bala Hassan, the commissioner for police in Abia State, said two men were picked up after activists posted pictures and names of the alleged rapists online.
However, previously, officials in Abia claimed they had closed their investigation and found no evidence of a rape, and cited that no victim had come forward.
On Thursday, the Nigerian national assembly called on police authorities to re-open their investigation.
Now that two arrests have been made, the rape victim has reportedly been identified and located. A local women’s rights group said they have reached out to the young woman and are preparing to move her out of Abia so that she can receive medical care and psychological counseling.
Meanwhile, the online video of the rape has caused much soul-searching in a country where rapists are rarely prosecuted, partially due to official indifference by police and courts.
The 10-minute footage reportedly shows the five young men laughing and joking as they take turns abusing the woman. At one point, the victim begs for mercy and even asks her attackers to kill her.
The video clearly shows the face of the woman but obscured images of the men.
Linda Ikeji, a blogger in the capital Lagos, wrote about the incident and helped to generate national interest. She said the rape video was uploaded online just last week and circulated later through students phones on the Abia campus. The video later went viral.
“She [the victim] starts mentioning names, saying ‘What did I ever do to you’, [they spoke in English and Igbo language] she mentioned at least two names,” Ikeji wrote.
“And in between, you will hear her scream out in pain as one guy stands up and another penetrates her...and all the while, these boys are laughing… They [the rapists] talk a lot and one of them said he’s a 4th year law student, another one said he’s an IT student...names were mentioned.”
One Twitter used offered a reward of 200,000 naira ($1,250) for information that could lead to the arrest of the culprits.