Every day when my daughter prepares to leave the house in our present-day Nigeria, I bark out a series of well-intentioned phrases which have almost turned routine in delivery.
Leave your phone on.
Call me when you get on the bus.
Let me know when you get there.
If you have a problem, please call to let me know.
Activate your automatic emergency call please so you can get help at the shake of a wrist.
We all know these attempts we make to try to keep our children safe when they are out of our immediate range; when we reluctantly let them go out with their friends or to places where our presence would be nothing but an uncomfortable distraction… But we still need to know that they are safe and also need them to know that if they need us; we can be there for them at the snap of a finger.
But sometimes in spite of all our best efforts, the inevitable happens and where does that leave us?
With the satisfaction that we did all our best and yet the worst came to pass? Or with the guilt that maybe perhaps, our best efforts were not good enough?
Last week on social media Naija, a user raised an alarm over the strange activities of a friend of hers who was supposed to be meeting up with a supposed benefactor who had that scarce commodity in today’s Nigeria for millions of youth – a job. This girl @hinnyumoren, had put up a tweet asking for a job. Someone had responded, offering one in a farm somewhere in Uyo.
The young job seeker left for the appointment full of high hopes. Thankfully, she had the presence of mind to have at least one friend 100% involved in what turned out to be indeed, “the adventure of a lifetime”. Her friend was on phone with her almost all through the journey. She even jokingly sent her “urgent 2k” to support her journey to the remote location where the job was meant to hold.
Then she got a one second voice note from her friend, the job seeker.
And when she called back, her friend screamed… and then there was silence.
Unfortunately, that silence was an unending one.
This faithful friend took to social media to raise an alarm over the strange circumstances of her friend’s job hunt journey; as well as the matters arising, requesting help from Nigerians in finding her friend; based on the little information she had available which, in the end, turned out to be a lot – the friend’s destination; her last known location and the purpose of the trip.
Trust Nigeria! The youth swung into action and with all sorts of amateur and professional sleuthing; the potential “employer” was nabbed. It turned out to be that this had been ongoing. @hinnyumoren’s case was not an isolated incident. Together with his entire family, this evil humanoid had found a business in luring innocent job seekers off social media; with the promise of a job on his farm. Where the victim appeared reluctant or suspicious, the mother and sister of the killer would swing into action; mainly to convince her there was indeed a job…
…Then upon arrival at the “farm”, this innocent, beleaguered Nigerian youth whose only crime was trying so hard to have a legitimate source of income, would be beset upon by this family from the pit of hell, murdered, dismembered (allegedly for ritual purposes), and then buried in a shallow grave.
How does one begin to process and unpack the fact that in Nigeria; we as Nigerians, are doing this to ourselves?
How do we begin to process and unpack the fact that we do not just fear our government; unknown gunmen, kidnappers, terrorists setting off bombs, the police, constituted and non-constituted authorities; but that we can also not now relax around “us”?
How do we begin to explain the fact that here in Nigeria, a mother would murder a young woman so effortlessly? Or that another young woman would join in luring and holding down the female victim; one of her kind – and even bury the body to get rid of evidence?
Men are sc*m, you say?
And women? What are we? The salt of the earth or the murderer’s apprentice?
And worst of all, is how do we now begin to process the fact that by our own personal yardsticks, this young lady did all the “right” things:
She was not exposing her body in skimpy outfits.
She was not twerking or smoking or any of the other “vices” we like to complain about.
Also, she was being “responsible”, looking for a job and not running after the proverbial “urgent 2k”.
She informed someone and kept the person updated on her whereabouts.
And at the first sign of trouble, she activated her “emergency call” procedure; yet this happened.
This has indeed negated all the petty inconsequential wars we fight daily on social media’ when we should actually be banding together as one to root out deviants into our midst.
Men are not sc*m by default, some humans are just terribly twisted.
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There is no right or wrong way to act in order to stay and be safe. The problem is not you. It is in the other person who has little or no regards for another individual’s rights to just “be”. Our accusations and the fingers we point across the invisible divides we have created only serve to isolate us further and make us easy prey for the predators.
And above all, when we really set our minds to it and think about it; not all time spent on the internet is wasted time. With the way the youth across Nigeria swung into action to try to find one of their own who was in trouble; it is obvious that more than just nuisance is being created with the time spent online.
And finally, the Nigerian police can and does spring into action when the need demands and are willing to work with citizens who are not just obstructing the course of securing justice for one of us.
In all of this, may @hinnyumoren Rest In Peace.