On December 24,1993, a 16-year-old schoolgirl in the seaside town of Burnie, Tasmania, hopped confidently into a ute with five men heading to the same party as she was. She knew two of the men, namely the driver and a passenger, Glen. However, she got the shock of her life when she was driven into an abandoned paddock, beaten to stupor, and brutally gangraped by two of the unknown men, then told she would have to dig her own grave preparatory to her burial on Christmas Day. The terror team was led by one Geoffrey Michael Haywood, now late. Recalls the victim: “During it, I felt like I was outside my body looking down. All I could think was: ‘I just want to get home to my mum and dad. I just want to see my mum and dad again.”
Haywood is dead but the devil is not. A similar eerie incident took place recently in Nigeria’s Kaduna State where an unnamed palace guard lured a simple lady to her doom. Let’s hand over the microphone to the palace’s spokesman, Abdullahi Aliyu Kwarbai: “A lady preparing for her wedding came to the palace to seek assistance from the Emir. The said lady approached him (Sama’ila Abubakar) to take her to the Emir but instead of doing that, he lured her to a location with his friends where they gangraped her. The culprits were subsequently arrested and handed them over to the police for prosecution. The Zazzau Emirate Council also directed the police to speed up their investigations and prosecute them without delay. It also promises to follow up with the case and ensure justice for the embattled lady.” Naturally, the council under the Emir of Zazzau, His Highness Malam Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli, CFR, had ordered the immediate dismissal of the guard.
Biblically, rape of another man’s betrothed is akin to murder (Deuteronomy 22: 25-27) and there’s no better summation than this: “For as when a man rises against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter.” Rape is such a hideous thing, but gangrape is much worse. It is criminally shameless and sadistic: often, the men abusing the body of another person’s daughter would not hesitate to behead anyone of their own gang who looks lustfully at or, worse still, dares to touch their own wife/wives inappropriately. But they set the entire existence of their victims at nought. Nakedness is the ultimate signal, though not necessarily the ultimate language, of surrender: except in extreme cases, say of rape, prostitutes do not strip themselves naked as a sign of submission; it’s just for money. In all cases of (gang)rape, the victim(s) could be killed for fun, having become worthless in the eyes of the tormentors.
Rapists and gang rapists are heartbreakers and life destroyers. Like the pastor recently nabbed by the police in Jos, Plateau State, for serially faking his own kidnap and collecting ransoms from church members, rapists have no scruples profiting from their victim’s pain: the pleas of victims provide a tonic for tougher torture. Of course, history, even in our day, is replete with gangrapes, including the homosexual kind. A royal servant once detailed how he was raped twice by a man who worked closely with the then Prince Charles. One of the incidents reportedly took place in Egypt, the other at a royal palace. The alleged victim, who previously earned less than £10,000 a year, reportedly left the royal household with a £30,000 payoff. People still remember the Dhaka horrors perpetrated by Pakistani soldiers during the Bangladesh war of liberation in 1971. There were as many as 200,000 gangrapes of the Hindu women who were dubbed gonimoter maal (war booty) by the Pakistani Government, giving the soldiers criminal leverage. In South Africa, eight young models out on a film shoot on the morning of July 28 last year were gangraped by opportunistic criminals, and a gangrape may be ongoing as we speak.
To would-be (gang)rapists let me warn: try not to rape. You will want to do it again telling yourself it’s just to see a naked body and then watch the woman scamper away in fright, but in reality you will never let go; you will do everything that is in your mind to do. You will develop new, overpowering thoughts and remember my words in a police cell, in prison and in hell. Do not proceed straight to prison from this page.
We return to Zazzau palace. It is indeed tragic that a lady intending to see her king for some form of assistance was brutally humiliated by a palace guard and his gang. If society were sensible, such people would be eliminated outright; they are criminals whose existence can only drag society backwards. I hope they get a full plate of their own deserts. Yet this case, saddening as it is, raises a number of posers regarding the extremely perverse and unequal Nigerian society. For instance, would the punishment have been the same if the offender was of another ethnic group or religion? Would such an offender and his co-accused not have been burnt to ashes instead of being handed over to the police? Were a king the offender, would there be an arrest? Wouldn’t the victim just be pacified and added to the royal harem? The wife of a first-class traditional ruler noted for eccentricities in Nigeria’s South-West is on record as claiming that her first encounter with her joint-rolling husband was a rape.
There are symbolic lessons for Nigeria and Nigerians in the Zazzau story. The violated bride is just like many of Nigeria’s 200 plus population looking for a palace guard (president) to take them to the king (happy future post-2023). They are betrothed to a husband (a glimmer of hope) but they are not only betrayed and violated but gang-betrayed and gang-violated by the politicians in power at state and federal levels: the cabinet, party members, co-criminals. The offenders may be punished (by being removed from office, etc), but the damage cannot be undone, in the same way that a woman raped cannot be unraped. The tragedy is that the violated woman often chooses yet another rapist to be her husband. Rewarding the destroyers of the land with yet another opportunity is grievous, but that may yet be the story after this year’s general election. Sad!
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