Youth warning after Nigerian facebook murder


Image: The late Cynthia Osokogu. By BiztechAfrica
The late Cynthia Osokogu

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Experts in the information communication technology (ICT) industry in Nigeria have warned youths in the country to be cautious on the internet, arguing that criminal elements have resorted to using the platform to perpetrate their criminal activities, capitalising on the anonymity it gives to them, especially the ability to give wrong information about the persons.

This warning is coming against the backdrop of the recent murder of Cynthia Osokogu, an Abuja-based model and beautician, allegedly by her Facebook “lovebird” at a hotel in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital.

A daughter of Major-Gen. Frank Osokogu, she was allegedly murdered by the duo of Odera Ezekiel (23) and Okwoma Nwabufor (33). While the former is a 300 level Accounting undergraduate of the Anambra State University, the latter is a student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

Common sense applies 

Bayo Banjo, president, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), said the time had come for young people to realise that good as the internet may be, criminals have invaded the medium to wreak havoc on unsuspecting people, especially the young and innocent.

Banjo, who is also the chief executive officer of Disc Communication Limited, also asked parents to keep a close watch on their children.

“Young people must be reminded that the same rules like 'don't go and meet strangers, don't go and meet people that you have not met before' also apply to the internet,” he told in a telephone interview in Lagos.

“This sad incident brings to the fore the need to be careful about unguarded internet usage. It is used by all manners of criminals who hide their identity. Internet is even more dangerous than people contacting you by phone or by letter because on the internet, I can register with fake name in yahoo or anything, I can go to Facebook, register with fake name and fake picture.

People must be aware that the internet is one of the most dangerous places to meet people. If you are going to have physical contact with anybody you met on the internet, take extra precautionary measure-go with a friend. The fact that the internet can be used while people hide their identity gives criminals the courage that they can do anything and go away with it,” he said.

According to him, the internet has conquered space and time and converted the whole world to one tiny global village, warning that it is not all that glitters that is gold.

“All that the internet does is that it enhances and makes it easier for people to establish contact. This could also have been done over the phone, it could also have been done through posted letter. You must remember that the same rule applies if you are meeting someone you have not met before.

These were the things they were telling us when we were very young: don't talk to strangers. I cannot blame the internet, it just makes it easy for contact, it has shrunk the world and the world is now a global village but everyone must bear in mind that d same rule applies. You don't just come all the way from Abuja to come and meet someone you have never met before.” he explained.

Criminals will use any means

Titi Omo-Ettu CEO, Telecoms Answers Associates, says there is need for everybody to take extra care about security. According to him, criminals would not hesitate to use any medium to create pains in the lives of people.

“This has to do with some animals covering themselves in human skin and the solution is for the law to take its course adequately and very speedily on the criminals. It should not have anything to do with social media or anything like IT or ICT or anything. There is nothing in any law anywhere in the world that such animalism can be allowed to stand,” Omo-Ettu explained in response to an email sent to him in the US where he is currently spending his vacation.

Deolu Ogunbanjo, President of the, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), says there is need for caution in the sue of the internet, especially the social network sites, where young people are usually glued to. He added that there is need for the government to step up cyber protection for young people in the country.

“It is quite unfortunate what happened. But to me, particularly as it concerns the youth, there is need to look at cyber protection for the country and particularly for the young and vulnerable. We need to also look at some websites and see if our children, our youth visit such sites because what they see there influences their world view. We need to do a lot in this respect to ensure that the internet is used to actually serve a good purpose not for the kind of sheer barbarism that just happened.”

He called on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to look into the issue of abuse of the internet.

For Banjo, another crucial aspect which should be investigated is how the young boys that conspired together to murder Cynthia degenerated into such a pristine savagery. “How did these two students become like this? Young people could fight and the fight could escalate to the point of breaking bottles, using knives and other missiles and people get killed in the process but these people premeditated this murder and to them, it is normal.

What kind of family are they from? How many people have fallen victim of their murderous antics? They have no values for the life of fellow human beings at all or are they from the families of butchers that have no values for human life?” Banjo asked rhetorically.

He said even if the boys were coming back from the war front where they have been killing people, in which case they will have no value for people’s lives, they ought to have been rehabilitated.

Umar Manko, Lagos State Commissioner of Police who paraded the suspects, said: “On July 22, somewhere in Festac, a young lady was found in a hotel - dead, chained and tied. We were worried.”

“Somebody called the receptionist of the hotel to say that they should go and take a dead body or “the bastard” away from the room and on getting to the room, the young lady was found dead. Her identity was not known.

“So the police had to trace the killers through that number that called the receptionist, until we got her passport number from the internet.”

“Through the immigration, we were able to link her up and then established her identity. From the footage of the CCTV, we discovered that two young men came into the hotel with the lady, and came out after a while. So, we started from that number and were able to link the young men we saw on the footage of the CCTV.

“They were arrested and they confessed to have killed the young lady. We asked them why and they said they chatted with her on the internet and discovered she was a business woman. So, as she was coming to Lagos to buy her stocks, they felt she would have enough money. One of them gave her a ticket from Abuja to Lagos and gave her accommodation in that hotel. After injecting a drug inside Ribena, (a fruit drink) they gave her, it knocked her off and so they decided to go into the business she came for but, unfortunately, they could not find much money on her. They struggled with her before she collapsed and was killed in the process.

“Both suspects are cousins from Anambra State and we are told it was not the first time they have done it but we have not been able to establish vividly if their victims were killed.

“We are trying to go round the other hotels they have used, it is a very long investigation and I think we still have much to uncover but because of insinuations from the press, we felt we won’t keep quiet longer than necessary. That was why we invited the media to parade them.”

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