Update: RIP Cynthia- Cynthia Udoka Osokogu was 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.
Tribute to Cynthia by her best friend, Aishatu Ene Ella
In the last few days I have seen had my heart torn, stripped and broken in pieces first by the disappearance and death of my Dearest friend and secondly by the wickedness exhibited by Nigerians, passing judgment on someone they never knew or met.
When she was officially declared meeting we put up a number online so people with information can call and help out, of over 500 calls we received in 3 days, only 2 of those calls were from people who actually helped with information. One was my dear friend Nuhu Kwajafa, the other was the Area Commander who called to inform us of the arrest of the people. The others were heartbreaking to say this least, I wondered how her mother would have coped if she had to deal with silliness, pettiness and undeserved hate from strangers, who just took one look at a lady and decided to judge her based on her looks.
When the sad news of her death broke, I made a comment and said I hope “all those who have insisted she was with a man would have their answer now and let her rest in peace” how wrong I was, They wouldn’t rest, they would only go back and manufacture a more hurtful and painful story, formulate more rumors and pass it around as facts, hmmm it is well. I have no comments for hateful people, I just want to share with you the real Cynthia, the Cynthia we knew not the one who hateful people have created in the last few days.
Cynthia was born on 10th of November 1987 to Gen Frank and Joy – Rita Nkem Osokogu, Udoka as her Mother named her, even as a baby was a uniting factor in her family. Her Mother had 3 boys before her, she was the last baby and only girl.
Her Parents had settled in Jos where we were and still neighbors, We became friends because in those days there were only few houses in the area. I was the last child and so didn’t have a lot of playmates my age, her brothers were my mates and Cynthia as the only girl didn’t have much friends around the neighborhood either so she tagged along when we had our “adventures” and “yawo”.
Cynthia the Model and Business Woman
2004 was one of the hardest years for the Family I was raised with in Jos, Cynthia and her Mom was with me all the way. They were there to comfort, assist, cook etc.
She was a tall beautiful and slender girl, we always teased her because even at 13 she was taller than me and the same height with her brothers, she was a tomboy all the way. Determined, stubborn and focused. As she grew into her height Her Mum and I playful suggest she try modeling because of her structure, Cynthia took it seriously, even though her major focus was education she gave modeling a trial and did quiet well as a model.
In 2007, she got her first major run way job and I will never forget the day she called me from Lagos after she had been paid, she said she wouldn’t want to waste the money and would buy clothes and bring to school to sell. The first badge of clothes never made it to keffi as industrious Cynthia who staying with her brother during her visit at Airforce Quarters sold the clothes to her brother, his colleagues and their friends, she told me she made 3 times her capital and immediately re-invested, bought more stock, came to Keffi and rented a shop, that was the birth of her Baby: “Dresscode”.
I remember I bought her the forms to one of the national competitions some years ago, she passed the screening passed 2 stages and called me one day to say she was asked to compromise to get through the next round, I told her to withdraw and she left. That was in 2011. She never entered any major pageant after that.
When it came to business Cynthia was midas, she knew when to make a great sale, she was never at a loss, her business grew from strength to strength all this while she was not even 21, @ 21 a lot of the people who now make it a point to formulate such hateful rumors were still struggling to buy Jamb Results.
Cynthia the Sister and Daughter
Cynthia was like the baby sister I didnt have, She was my confidant, stylist and a great comfort. We shared a lot, tears, smiles, laughs, joys ,sorrows and was always at my service. She was greatly involved in charity, anytime I sent a text or posted a picture of someone needing medical support, I could count on Cynthia as one of the first respondents. When she was in Abuja, she would always come and volunteer, run errands, always with a smile. When I get to Jos, she will be at the motor park waiting, Thats if she doesnt pick me up from Abuja. Not to forget my person Stylist, she either bought or chose most of my clothes, most times my friend say “you look nice” i tell them “ask Cynthia oh, I have no idea what I am wearing”. Style has never been a strong point of mine, but if Cynthia bought it or asked me to buy it I knew it was good and stylish
To her Mother, Cynthia was her heart. Several times I will ask Cynthia please dont go to Jos it is volatile and she will reply me ” Mumsy is alone at home”, or when she is in Jos and there was a fight I would call and ask her to leave Jos and come and stay a few days with me, she will say “I cant leave Mumsy alone here now” . That was our Cynthia, Others first.
When it was time to serve, while others would work their service to areas full of opportunity like Abuja, Lagos and Porthacort, Cynthia worked her service to crisis ridden Jos to be close to her Mother, Is that what a “runsgirl” does?
At age 24, Cynthia had a successful business, and was running a Post Graduate Program in Public Administration, sadly people will ignore all that and choose to believe that because she is pretty and Young she must be a “Runsgirl”, how sad, we Judge people by our own low and shabby standards.
She earned every kobo she had by good old hard work, Lets even forget her Father supported her financially but that didn’t turn her to a spoilt brat she was as determined as ever to make her own mark and earn her own keep.
The world and people who have no standards can stand afar and Judge all they want but we know who you are and we love you, we don’t need to defend You My baby, just setting the records straight.
The security Situation in our country now is horrible at best, people are kidnapped, robbed and killed everyday, why is it so hard to believe that a young girl was killed while going to pursue her legitimate business? If It was a man who was killed would we have come up with all these stories? If it was an older woman or someone not so attractive would we still? Her crime is being, young, pretty and a business woman. Hmmm, People, Have the decency to let us mourn in peace. Please.
Aishatu Ene Ella