The ripples of the ugly incident of Tuesday August 21, 2012 in which Cynthia Osokogu was coned, raped and brutally murdered by a gang of fraudsters are still ruling social discourse across the country. Cynthia, 23 years of age and daughter of Major-General Frank Osokogu (rtd), was a postgraduate student of Nasarawa State University, model and business woman who dealt in boutique materials. She had met her assailants on the Facebook, a social network platform where people of all sexes and backgrounds meet and bond, buy, sell and related transactions.
The purported friends, unknown to her, were heartless fraudsters who con women, strip them of cash, rape and even kill as was witnessed in the case of Cynthia who happened to be their 5th victim. The beauty products dealer had left her school and parents in the North and had visited her Lagosbased Facebook ‘business partners’ who probably promised her mouthwatering consignments. Cynthia innocently walked into their booby trap in a Lagos hotel and by the time the deal was over, it was her abused, abandoned dead body that was left in the hotel room.
Evidence gathered from the scene by the police indicated that Cynthia was not only lured from her base to Lagos to be dispossessed of her money and other valuables; but that she was, in addition, viciously brutalised and forced to submit to the bestial sexual desires of her captors before they eventually clubbed her to death. Why she was murdered is still being debated, and at best, remains intriguing as the exceptionally cruel act would require high level police inquest, which may be underway with the recent arrest of the two principal suspects and two other accomplices; and their arraignment in court.
The identities of the four suspects who recently appeared before a Yaba magistrate’s court were given as Okwumo Echezona (33), Ezike Olisaeloka (23), Orji Osita (32), and Maduakor Chukwunonso (25). They were arraigned on an eight-count charge of conspiracy, administration of obnoxious substance, robbery and murder. In the evidence given by the prosecutor, Chukwu Agwu, a Police Superintendent and Head of the Legal Department of the State Criminal Investigation Department in Panti, Lagos, the accused administered on their victim a deadly sedative drug called Rohypnol Flunitrozepam purchased from their pharmacist accomplices in FESTAC.
Not surprisingly, the murder of Cynthia has triggered a flurry of reactions on the good sides as well as the inherent risks in being glued to the social media. Some have called for its regulation locally and internationally while some dozens of extremists canvass its total ban. Yet, it can hardly be disputed that notwithstanding the escapades of the criminally minded and internet fraudsters, the social media has come to stay as a veritable means of cheap information and knowledge worldwide. Therefore, totally or even partially restraining its use seems a weird dream. Like a supermarket, those who make use of the social media have a wide range of wares to choose from – the good, the bad or the ugly. Those who often emerge as victims of criminals and crooks on the internet become prey mostly out of desperation, curiosity and unrestrained excitement manifestly reflected in the belief that everything that glitters is gold, naivety and senseless trust, as well as the get-rich-quick syndrome, just to mention a few. For these reasons, many in search of life partners, especially desperate ladies in search of husbands, have been duped. Likewise those in search of quick wealth. Perhaps, what seems most worrisome is the fact that the nation’s youths devote more quality time in search of frivolities, especially pornography and sex-related adventures on the internet to the detriment of their academic or other activities. This has been fingered by experts as one of the major reasons students register mass failures, especially at the secondary and tertiary levels of the educational system. Even some young parents may be linked with irresponsible attachment to the social media.
The loss of Cynthia is really tragic, but perhaps more fatal are the roles played by the family and the nation in breeding conscienceless criminals and deviants. The worship for money and wealth even if extracted from the devil’s mouth now outshines good morals, love for one another and, most importantly, the fear of God; and redressing the moral and spiritual decay in the land seems the foremost challenge that parents, families and the nation at large must face to make respite possible.
The good and bad potentials of the social media are unquantifiable. Parents especially should warn their children on the inherent dangers. For, curiosity, when taken to the extreme, kills the cat. What one sows into the social media – the nature and quality of links and transactions, for example – is what one reaps. Cynthia has gone in a manner most painful. This is no time for buck passing or apportioning blame. Like Cynthia’ father has said, let her death serve as a lesson for other people, especially students and youths who have been enslaved by the social media. Besides, public expectation seems high that the judiciary would hastily bring the culprits to justice and not fail the nation as usual.