Tuesday, 21 August 2012

RIP Cynthia…Young Nigerian Woman Cynthia Udoka Osokogu Murdered by Facebook Friends in Lagos

It seems as though every week, there is a new search within the Nigerian social media sphere for a missing person. Pretty girls, handsome men – people like you and me, the new Nigerian generation – young, educated, cosmopolitan and connected by the thread of social media – from BBM to Twitter and the almighty Facebook.
Last week, Cynthia Udoka Osokogu‘s photograph was all over the internet. She had been missing since late July 2012, however, the news became viral just a few days ago.
We saw Cynthia’s photo and prayed that like many others we would hear news that she had been found – alive and well. It was not to be. She is dead.
There is a lot of speculation about what happened to Cynthia and lack of information leads to rumours and falsities.
No one will know ever know the full story except Cynthia but here is what we can tell you.
What Happened to Cynthia?
24 Year Old Cynthia Osokogu left Abuja in late July 2012 (According to reports, on the 22nd of July 2012). Like many enterprising young people, the post-graduate student of Nasarawa State University was a clothing retailer and had travelled to Lagos to purchase new stock.
Cynthia had been chatting with some new “friends” on Facebook for a few months. In the course of their conversations, they developed a friendship and a level of trust. These young men were also university students, they seemed normal and promised to host Cynthia when she came to Lagos.
There is speculation that they paid for her plane ticket and promised to pay for her hotel as well. Only Cynthia knows if this is true. Whatever the truth is, Cynthia trusted her new friends and had no idea that they had sinister plans.
What we know is that, these 2 young men picked Cynthia up from the airport in Lagos and drove her to a hotel in Festac. At the hotel, they tied her up, robbed her of all the money she brought to shop for her business and strangled her to death.
They then left the hotel and quickly deleted her from their facebook friend list to remove any trace of their connection.
The hotel found her body and since her ID cards and mobile phone had been stolen, they could not identify her or call friends and family.
Her body was deposited in a morgue in Lagos.
All this time, her family and friends were praying for her safe return.
How the Killers Were Caught
At some point, one of the culprits accidentally answered Cynthia’s phone and the call was traced to Festac. Therefore, her missing person’s police report was submitted to the Area E Command in Festac. This enabled her family to find her body in the morgue and also led them to the hotel.
Using CCTV from the hotel, the killers were identified. According to reports, these two young men are university students who have now confessed that they killed Cynthia and she is their sixth victim – the gang reportedly specializes in luring unsuspecting young women, robbing them of their possessions before killing them. Though there is speculation that their motive was ritualistic, it appears that it was greed and their main goal was to rob and kill. The pharmacist who supplied the drugs used on Cynthia and hotel staff have also been arrested. According to Police spokesperson Ngozi Braide, “Six people were arrested on Sunday over the incident and investigations are ongoing”.
What we can learn from this
We have seen so many online comments judging Cynthia. This could have happened to anyone. With social media, this false sense of comfort and trust can be very misleading. We know couples who met on Facebook or BBM groups and are still together. If you ask them if they took security measures to protect themselves when they first met, many will confess that they did not. We hear of friendships built on twitter and BBM, where the first meeting was in the home of one of the friends. The truth is anything can happen. You have to be savvy and wise.
Cynthia was the only daughter and the last born of her parents – Ret. Major General Frank & Mrs Joy Osokogu. She was dotted on by her three elder brothers and parents. She was vibrant and enterprising. Everyone misses her so much! May Cynthia’s gentle soul rest in peace.

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