Major Gen. Frank Osokogu, father of Cynthia, the young lady who was murdered in Lagos by her Facebook friends, has admonished all youths to beware of trusting total strangers they meet only on Facebook and other social media. If other youths are saved through this warning, he said, it would lighten his deep sorrow over the loss of his only daughter.
Osokogu who spoke in an interview with journalists in Jos, said it was Cynthia’s friends in Abuja, whom she had visited en route Lagos, who first notified him that she had not returned from her trip, days after she was due back.
See full interview below
How did it all begin sir?
My daughter was in Nasarawa State University, Keffi, doing her Masters programme. She stayed there. I stay in Abuja and Jos, while my wife stays in Jos. So, we are not together.
It became very difficult to know exactly when she was missing from school. But I got to know about everything when her friends started looking for any of her family members and they got to know me and got to know my number.
So, they called me saying that my daughter travelled and she had not come back. From what they had said, my daughter was their schoolmate and friend. She finished before them in the university and they lived in Abuja and she stayed with them anytime she was coming to Abuja.
So, this time around, she (my daughter) called them that she was coming to Abuja on her way to Lagos, because she was going to buy some items and they told her that they were in NYSC camp and not at home.
However, they told her that the key to their flat was with their gateman and she could collect it and do what she wanted to do before travelling.
They said she brought in her belongings and took what she wanted to use in Lagos and left. They didn’t see her; all these were just telephone conversations.
I think it was when the time she told them that she would come back had elapsed and they didn’t see her and they took one or two more days extra, giving her the benefit of doubt, they still didn’t see her that they started looking for any of the family members.
That was how I got to know that she was not in school and had travelled and that she was missing.
How long did she tell them (the friends) she was going to stay in Lagos?
She left on July 22, which was a Sunday, and she told them she was going to spend about three or four days.
When did the message finally get to you that she was missing?
That should be about the end of July. I told you it took about one week after the time she said she was going to come back before they started looking for family members.
I can’t remember the exact day now, but it should be around July 31 or August 1 or thereabout.
What did you do?
Immediately they called and told me her car and some of her belongings were there and they wanted to return them to my house for safekeeping, I said they should bring them. I gave them the description and they brought the car with the items.
When they came, I told them that returning the items was just not enough, that they had to go to the Police to make some statement … and they agreed.
So, we drove to Gwarimpa Police Station, because they live in Gwarimpa and that was the last point my daughter must have travelled from, and they made statements and the Station referred us to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the Federal capital Territory (FCT), where they have the technological know-how and facilities to track missing persons, missing telephones, coordinating or whatsoever, which the ordinary Police don’t have.
They gave us quick passage to SARS. We went there and they made statements too. The SARS swung into action.
Before this time, did you have any inkling of her movement?
No, no! I told you she was in school; she was a postgraduate student and was a big girl now. I don’t stay with her or follow her movement.
I phoned her from time to time and she would tell me if there was any problem. Occasionally, I visited her and come back to my base.
Within this time, you did not phone her because there was no need to?
I had just seen her before she got missing. I went there and saw her. She told me that their examination was on, so practically there was no need to disturb her.
As she was growing up, what type of girl was she?
Oh, she was a very good girl, very serious, very focused. She had done very well. She finished her youth service about the age of 22 and had never been lagging behind.
So, I was very confident that she was full of promises, full of potentials and we didn’t have any problem with her.
You must be pained reading all the comments about her and the incident, how do you feel as her father?
Well, definitely, it is one of those things. When things like that happen, a lot of speculations and insinuations will come, but that is not my problem now. My problem is to get focused that at least, somebody is dead, and luckily, the Police have been able to do a thorough job from what I was told. I have not gone to Lagos to see the Police, but my brother and my son had been there and from what they told me, the Police from the beginning, did a marvelous job in tracking down the suspects.
So, we are worried about how to move forward with the case, not about what people say. I don’t work on rumours; I don’t work on stupid foundations. In fact, there is no need for that.
For your information, I have always had a standing order allowance for my daughter from the age of 15 till now. When she was going for youth service, I had to give her a car as gift.
I am sure she must have been getting some little allowance from her brothers too, and of course from her mother. So, I don’t see any reason why she should not have at least enough money to go on for people to begin to insinuate that she was a “runs girl” or whatever they mean by that.
So, I don’t want to talk more on that.
How do you feel sir, losing your only daughter?
Well, it is very painful; it is devastating, it is incomprehensible. Our consolation is that when some things happen, you just take it with equanimity. What cannot be helped must be endured.
I believe too that the situation that is unfolding is a big lesson for other youths. They have a lot of lessons to draw on why they should not just be chatting with strangers on Facebook, the Internet or Blackberry or whatever and then decide to go visiting them when they don’t know them.