In the last few days, the Nigerian mainstream media and social media have been inundated by reports of the gruesome murder of Cynthia Osokogu by her Facebook friends. Her killers have been arrested, but several questions are still unanswered. In this interview, Major General Frank Osokogu, father of the slain Cynthia provides some answers to some of the questions.
Q: How did it all begin sir?
A: Well, the point is my daughter is in Nasarawa State University Keffi doing her Master programme. So, she stays 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 eventually when I got to know about everything was when her friends started looking for any of her family members and through contacts and they got to know me and got to know my number. So, they called me saying that my daughter travelled and that she had not come back. So, from what they had said, my daughter was their school mate and friend. She finished before them in the university. They lived in Abuja. While she had now left, anytime she was coming to Abuja, she stayed with them. So, this time around, she (my daughter) now called them that she was coming to Abuja on her way to Lagos because she was going to buy some items. They told her that they were in NYSC camp. They had finished from the university now. So, they were not at home. However, they told her that the key to their flat was with their Gate man, and so she can collect the key and do what she wanted to do before she travelled. So, they said she brought in her belongings and took what she wanted to use in Lagos and she left. They didn’t see her. All these were just telephone conversations. So, 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 don’t see her. That was when they started looking for any of the family members. That was how I got to know that she was not in school that she travelled and that she was missing.
Q: How long did she tell them (the friends) that she was going to stay?
A: She left on July 22, which was on Sunday, and she told them she was going to spend about three or four days.
Q: When did the message finally get to you that she was missing?
A: That should be about the end of that month 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.
Q: When were you finally called?
A: That is what I am saying. I can’t remember the exact day now. But it should be around the end of July, 31st or 1st August or thereabout.
Q: What did you do?
A: Immediately they called me and they told me her car was there and some of her belongings, they wanted to return them to my house for safe-keeping, then I said okay they should bring them. I gave them the description and they brought them 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 so that we keep it while we are still looking for my daughter because at this time we didn’t have a clue of what had happened. They agreed. So, we drove off to Gwarimpa Police Station because they live in Gwarimpa and that was the last point that my daughter must have travelled from. We went to Gwarimpa Police Station. They made statement and the Gwarimpa Police Station referred us to the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) FCT, that they have the technological know-how to track missing persons, missing telephone, coordinating or whatsoever while the ordinary police don’t have such facilities. They gave us quick passage to SARS. We went to SARS, they made statement too. The SARS swung into action. So, the search started in earnest.
Q: Sir, before this time, you don’t have an inking of her movement?
A: No. No. I told you she was in school. She is a big girl now. She is a Postgraduate student. I don’t stay with her. I don’t follow her movement. I phoned her from time to time, she answered, she told if there were any problems. Occasionally I visited her and came back to my base.
Q: Within this time, you did not phone her because there was no need to.
A: 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.
Q: What was she studying?
A: Either Education or Education Management at the Nasarawa State University
Q: As she was growing up, what type of girl was she?
A: Oh, she was a very good girl, very serious, very focused. She had done very well. She finished her youth corps about the age of 22. She had never been lagging behind. So, I was very confident that she was full of promises, full of potentials. So, we didn’t have any problem with her.
Q: I know you must have been pained because you must have been reading all the comments people are making. How do you feel as a father?
A: Well, definitely, it is one of those things. When things like that happen, a lot of speculations will come, a lot of insinuations will come. 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 first time, did a marvellous job in tracking down the suspects as of now. So, we are worried about how to move forward with the case not to what people say. I don’t work on rumours, I don’t work on stupid foundations. And in fact, there is not 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 corps, when she finished her university and passed her 2:2 which was my set target for her, I had to give her a car gift, a brand new car. And I am sure, she must have been getting some little allowance from her brothers who are my sons, two of them and of course from her mother. So, I don’t see for any reason why she should not have at least enough money to go on for people to beg in to insinuate that she is a “runs girl” or whatever they mean by that she is neither here nor there. So, I don’t want to talk more on that.
Q: How do you feel sir, losing your only daughter?
A: Well, it is very painful. It is devastating. It is incomprehensible. Well, our consolation is that well when something happened, you just take it with equanimity, they way it comes. What cannot be helped must be endured. I believe too that the situation that is unfolding is a big lesson for other youths that are coming up. They have a lot of lessons to draw why they should not, just chatting with strangers on face book , internet or blackberry or whatever and then you decide to go visiting them when you don’t know them. So, I think that was the capital mistake in this episode. So, those youths must learn a lesson from what had happened. If they do, I will be consoled too that they have saved some other lives.
Q: Well you have commended the police for doing a nice job, do you think they would have done better at least to have saved her life.
A: I think they did a good job under the circumstance at least in arresting those suspects. If anything to prevent them from causing more havoc. I also want to commend all those who by visits and calls sympathised with us. I must mention the Sultan of Sokoto, the Lagos Police Commissioner, the area commander in Festac Town, all the service chiefs, the Obis of Owa, Ute-Okpu, Otolokpo and Ute-Ogbeje kingdoms, the Chief of Staff to Delta State governor and all the generals serving and retired and colleagues too numerous to mention who have identified with us in these trying moments and I say may God bless them all.