Rita Chidinma: Ini Umoren and the Cruel Hands of Death
I write this from a place of pain. I find it baffling that we get hit with so much bad news every single day and, somehow, we still continue to “maintain beauty” while going about our lives.
Women and girls are going through so much in this country. What is the value of a woman’s life in Nigeria? I know that we complain often about the government and the current state of things in the country but how about the evil that Nigerians mete out on themselves? How can Ini Umoren, a young lady who went in search of a job to better her life, end up raped and murdered by someone who posted a fake job application on Twitter? How do you console her family?
Back story: After her friend raised an alarm on Twitter about Ini being missing, Nigerians immediately went to work by searching for Ini’s post where she tweeted about looking for a job in Uyo and saw the tweet of a man who offered her a job and asked her to come to his office but by then, the man had deleted the comment and changed his handle. But he wasn’t quick enough; people were able to find his new account and link the number that was given to Ini to call to a Facebook account. With that, they were able to establish a link between the man on Twitter and the Facebook account.
The owner of the Twitter account denied it but was eventually tracked down by the police. With all the links and Twitter investigations, the police eventually caught up with the murderer who then confessed to raping and killing Ini Umoren, while also admitting that his father and other relatives were part of the despicable act.
Scenarios like this are getting increasingly common. Not long ago, we also heard the story of a makeup artist, Ijeoma, who was lured to her death by a lady who believed the deceased was having an affair with her boyfriend. Why are women targeted, by both men and women, for the most heinous of crimes?
Ini just wanted a better life; she wanted a job. She also did everything right! She did everything women are advised to do to ensure their safety in such situations. She shared her destination, location and updates on her movement. Yet, she was violently raped, murdered and dumped in a shallow grave. She didn’t deserve to die like that; all she wanted was to a better life.
We need to be more attentive when women talk about their fears because these fears are very real. There is a whole lot of work to be done beyond this unfortunate incident. It is very possible that there are random and unaccounted for psychopaths and serial killers roaming the streets, both on and offline. So many women and girls have gone missing over the years and are still not found till today, their families have been left with no closure. We often tend to ignore predatory behaviours in people, especially when they are our family or friends. One does not just become a rapist or killer overnight, it usually starts with molesting people and many get away with it because other people keep quiet about it or cover them up.
Nigeria cannot continue making excuses for abuse and depravity. Maximum punishments need to be meted out to such miscreants in order to serve as deterrents to others. Whatever a society condones, multiplies. We need to make sure the harshest, heavy hands of the law befalls the killer of Ini Umoren.
My deepest condolences to her family and especially to her friend, Uduak Umoh, who raised the alarm and fought with all she had to get her friend back alive. We were all rooting for her and hoping for the best.