A young Akwa Ibom job seeker declared missing after leaving home for a job interview has been found dead and buried in a shallow grave.

 

In the last 24 hours, there have been calls for justice for 26-year-old Iniobong Umoren, a young lady who was sexually assaulted and murdered by 20-year-old Uduak Frank Akpan.

 

The suspect had invited her for a job interview at airport road in the outskirts of Uyo. That was the last time she was seen alive.

 

The lady, Iniubong Umoren, was last seen on April 29 when she left her house to meet with a Twitter user who promised her a job. This gave rise to the hashtag #FindHinyHumoren where many aided attempts to find the missing graduate.

 

Iniobong Umoren

 

But on Sunday, Uduak Umoh, Umoren’s friend, broke the news of her death in an outcry on the microblogging platform. “They raped and killed my friend,” she wrote in a terse post.

 

Before her death, Umoren, who is a graduate of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom had last Tuesday indicated that she was looking for a job on Twitter.

 

“#AkwaIbomTwitter please I’m really in need of a job, something to do to keep mind and soul together while contributing dutifully to the organisation,” the tweet had read.

 

 

“My location is Uyo, I’m creative, really good at thinking critically, and most importantly a fast learner. CV available on request.”

 

The tweet had generated engagement from Twitter users.

 

It was gathered that she was invited for a job by a man on Twitter, at which time she became unreachable.

 

20-year-old Uduak Frank Akpan, who sexually assaulted, murdered, buried Iniobong Umoren

 

Uduak had, in another tweet, explained that her friend had gone for the interview at Airport Road, Uyo. She said, while she was trying to reach her lines, she had heard some screams that ended up raising her suspicion.

 

“Y’all, my friend is in trouble and she needs our help. I’m currently in Lagos and I can’t help to put this out there. Earlier today, she told me she was going for a job interview at Airport Road which is quite far from her house,” she had written.

 

“To cut everything short, she sent me a 1-second audio record on WhatsApp and I had to call her back to know if she wanted to say something to me but immediately I called her. I heard her screaming. Someone, please help her.

 

“This was our last chat before she left for the interview. It was immediately I got this 1-second voice note from her that I called her and she has not been taking my calls. Y’all help me out.”

 

POLICE ARRESTS SUSPECT

In a statement Odiko Mcdon, Akwa Ibom police spokesman, confirmed that the state police command has arrested Uduak Frank Akpan (20) for “kidnapping, raping, and killing the victim”.

 

Nigerians on Twitter immediately swung into action by trending the #FindHinyHumoren hashtag and several people identified Uduak Frank Akpan as the prime suspect.

 

He said the command received a report of the deceased’s disappearance on April 30 and deployed a team of officers from its anti-kidnapping squad who arrested the suspect.

 

Mcdon stated that Udak confessed to kidnapping the victim.

 

 

“Men of the anti-kidnapping squad… arrested the perpetrator who confessed to luring his victim to his house in the guise of giving her a job, but ended up sexually and physically assaulting her which led to her death,” the statement read.

 

 

“To cover his tracks, he dragged and buried her in a shallow grave in his father’s compound. The deceased has been exhumed and deposited at UUTH (University of Uyo Teaching Hospital) for autopsy.

 

 

“The suspect confessed to have told his local government chairman of his atrocity before escaping to Calabar and was never at any time handed over to the police by anyone.”

 

 

Unfortunately, efforts to ensure Ini was rescued alive proved futile and on the 2nd of May, she was found dead

 

Ini was a graduate of Philosophy from the University of Uyo. She was awaiting NYSC and decided to get a job while waiting.

 

It is not only harrowing that she met her death in the process, it is also heart-wrenching that her death came barely 24 hours after the world celebrated the International Workers’ Day – a day set aside to honour labourers and the working classes.

 

Ini just wanted to be a part of the working class.

 

For what seems like the upteenth time, Nigerians have again united in the face of injustice and are lending their voice to the call for justice using the hashtag #JusticeforHinyHumoren.

 

This is not alien to us, every day, we read reports of women being raped, sexually assaulted or beaten. It’s a continuous tale of anguish and grief – one that keeps giving. A cycle of repeated events that bring tears to one’s eyes and comes with sorrow for lives that could be saved.

 

These spate of violence were little cracks that swiftly alchemised into canyons of insecurity that are now difficult to bridge. There’s a skyrocketing rate of kidnapping, banditry, robbery, murder, and violence against women seems to be at an all-time high as social media continually highlights and immortalises issues like this that would have been otherwise hidden and forgotten.

 

From the issues of insecurity to sexual assault, rape, violence against women, BellaNaija also lent their voice in demanding justice for victims and proferring solutions to problems that continually claim the lives of Nigerians, and it is with deep sadness and pain that we have again put our pens to paper to call for justice for Iniobong Umoren.

 

Ini Umoren, like every Nigerian youth, simply wanted a job. According to the security ‘rule’ many people do not fail to read out when women are victims of sexual assault and murder, Ini did everything right; she disclosed her location and interviewer to her friend and sister before going out, she put on her location all through, she went during the day time, dressed well for the interview, and yet, she was still murdered.

 

Ini Umoren’s death is a result of multiple system failures and just like many needless deaths – especially of young women and men – we have recorded in Nigeria, her death could have been prevented.

 

In other to avoid similar future occurrences, let’s start with rooting out the cause of this problem: the fake job advert; the serial killer on the loose; the not-so-swift response of the police force; the high rate of violence against women in our country.

 

 

Almost every Nigerian youth has received one false job advert or another. The high unemployment rate in Nigeria might have made many Nigerians desperate for jobs, but it has also given criminals a huge platform to defraud job-seeking Nigerians.

 

After NYSC, a lot of people receive fake invites from Shell or Mobil or Chevron, they get your name correctly and even the platoon you belonged to in camp. Many people also get invites from different companies telling them they have qualified for interviews even when they did not apply for the job. We have to ask ourselves: who is selling the data of young Nigerians to these shady job recruiters. We have to look into how secure our data is in the hands of those who are meant to protect it. How do we block the easy access fraudsters have to the data and information of people, especially those who are desperate to gain employment and will jump at every job opportunity that looks and feels right?

 

In light of the recent occurrence, many people on Twitter have written a list of fake job adverts in many parts of Nigeria, especially in Lagos. If the citizens are aware of these fake recruiters and can whip up a list within hours, why have our intelligence services done nothing about it all these years?

 

It is important, at this point, to have a functional database of fake job locations, adverts, and recruiters so that people that look it up before honouring an interview invite and to make it easy for law enforcement agents to get them arrested. Be it on Twitter, Facebook or any other social medium, we must come up with ways to recognise fake job recruiters and determine which interview invite is legit or not.

 

We have a serial killer, thankfully, he’s no longer on the loose. Cletus Ukpong, for Premium Times, wrote that the “Suspect is a confessed serial rapist who has owned up to the raping of other victims. Ini is not Uduak Akpan’s first victim; other corpses were found in the shallow grave he dug for her. Like his predecessors who have been nabbed by the police, Uduak’s victims were women who were first raped before they were murdered. Beyond mitigating the level of insecurity, and ensuring that bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, serial killers do not overrun the country, we must also aggressively address issues of gender-based violence in our country and give no room for it.

 

Nigeria has a long history of violence against women and the efforts made by the government to curb it are simply not enough. In 2016, the Nigerian Police Force launched a “public friendly” gender unit across the country to prosecute anyone culpable of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV). Ironically, in 2019, men of the same Nigeria Police Force raped women they had arrested for alleged prostitution using water sachets in place of condoms – and they were not prosecuted.

 

In October, 2018, 20-year-old Seun Ajila was raped and murdered in her home and her murderer hasn’t been found or prosecuted.

 

In 2020, within one week, Uwavera Omozuwa was raped and killed in the church, 19-year-old Barakat was raped and murdered, 18-year-old Jennifer was gang-raped by 5 men, a 12-year-old unidentified girl was gang-raped by 11 men, 21-year-old Grace Oshiagwu was also raped and murdered.

 

For girls and women in Nigeria, sexual assault and rape is the reality of their daily lives, and as long as their perpetrators go free, we would never be rid of sexual assault.

 

The only way to end the cycle of sexual abuse, rape, and murder is to ensure that the perpetrators like Uduak Frank Akpan do not slip through the fingers of the law. If we have anything short of justice for victims of abuse, we will continually put the lives of Nigerians at risk.

 

We must also build a police force that is swift to take action. While it is commendable that Ini’s killer has been apprehended, one cannot help but wonder if she’d still be alive if they had swung into action earlier. When it comes to issues of kidnapping, especially when there is a distress WhatsApp call, there is no need to wait for 24 hours before declaring a person missing. Criminals do not wait for 24 hours before they strike, our police force must learn to match the pace and velocity. It will also help to build a functional emergency number across all states, one that Nigerians can call once they sense danger.

 

In honouring the memory of Ini Umoren, we must ensure that we do not have other “Ini Umorens.” Aside from ensuring that Uduak and people like him face the law, we must build a society that is well sensitised about the dangers of gender-based violence – and violence in any form and in its littlest form. Let’s start from the constant reminders in our the radio stations, let’s talk about this in our local newspapers, let the sensitisation spread to the remotest areas of the country.

 

We must also build a system were justice takes place and we must ensure our police force and all security agents are up to task. This is the only way we can honour our dead.

 

For Ini Umoren and other victims of rape and murder, we must continually call and fight for justice.

 

Mcdon said the police have commenced an investigation on the incident, adding that Udak will be charged to court. He also urged job seekers to be wary of online scammers.

 

 

However,  ‘Good guys’ in the context of a society like Nigeria that has normalised the dehumanisation of women are just men who know what to say in different spaces.

 

In the company of their fellow men who recount the story of how they pestered a particular woman till she gave in to their sexual demands, they guffaw and hail their bros for having game. They also hold beliefs on the natural superiority of men over women because, “Men are biologically built different, stronger and with more innate aggression,” my cis-heterosexual acquaintance argued.

 

In the company of women – most of whom they hope to sleep with someday, they interact with a cordial sweetness underneath which lies a cold calculation of when the sex will drop and if it won’t what the best exit strategy is and when it can be deployed.

 

They may not rape or kill anyone, but in sitting comfortably in conversations that paint women as irrational, weaker, greedy and tempting, they make it okay for the men who will.

 

Great fathers can rape their secretary at work and return home to a hearty dinner with their daughters with no sense of irony or make their femicidal friends comfortable in their criminal intents with the language of loathing they use to describe ‘skimpily dressed harlots.’

 

Until men make men’s space uncomfortable for harmful discussions about women. Until men begin to see women as equal humans no less smart, strong and deserving of dignity, the Uduak Akpans of the world will only continue to spread their evil.

 


Leave a Reply