Before Iniobong Umoren Becomes A Mere Statistic Of Nigeria's Failure Of Its Youth - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Sunday, May 2, 2021

Before Iniobong Umoren Becomes A Mere Statistic Of Nigeria's Failure Of Its Youth


Angela Ihentuge's Case

By Ibanga Isine

It was in 2003 and I was a young reporter in Owerri, Imo State, when I stumbled on a story about a young woman who had disappeared somewhere in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area.

Her name was Angela Ihentuge. I have found it difficult to forget her name because of how her story changed the trajectory of my life as a reporter till today.

I was a correspondent with The Punch Newspaper at the time and my office was at Rotibi Street, Owerri.

I got to know about Angela's story from NITEL office where I went to fax my story to Lagos.

The Internet wasn't available, at least for the use of the media in Nigeria at the time. 

So, someone was casually discussing the issue of a missing woman while waiting for his turn to fax a message and the line of those waiting for their turn was very long.

Immediately I was able to fax my report, I went back to one of the men still in the line and got information about the village and the name of the missing woman and went straight to the motor park and left for the village.

I met the aged parents and siblings of Angela and they told me they have found their sister's remains in a bush path leading to their village.

The family told me Angela was seven-month pregnant when she disappeared and I was taken to where her body was dumped.

She was naked, her private part was expertly cropped out, her right breast cut off, her right toes cut off, her right eye removed, her right index finger cut off and her tongue cut from the mouth. The foetus was also removed from her womb. 

I asked if they had reported the matter to the police and they answered in the affirmative.

The police didn't take any action but told the family they had commenced investigation. 

I took pictures of the decapitated body and left for the husband's village.

From leads I got, I went to where Angela had lived with her husband and quietly interviewed the neighbours. What I got was shocking.

I learnt Angela actually went out with the hubby the evening she disappeared but the husband had said she went alone to see her elder sister in another community.

It was towards the 2003 general election and Angela was killed and her parts harvested for election rituals.

When I published the first part of the report, the CPS to Governor Achike Udenwa, one Emelumba, called me and warned me to stop investigating the story. 

In fact, I learnt he called my editor, who was then Azu Ishiekwene and complained about my story. 

I was told that the Imo State Government had said the story was false and the editor asked me to show evidence that Angela was killed for rituals.

I sent the pictures I had taken and copies of the recorded interviews I had with neighbours and relatives of Angela to Lagos through DHL and the next day, Punch led with the second part of my investigation and the editor wrote that the paper stands with me on the report. 

Emelumba called again and threatened me for always painting the state bad. The family of Angela were asked not to talk to me again and they were threatened too.

The police arrested the wrong suspects and a few weeks later, gunmen invaded my home at Naze Busstop 4. 

God took me away from the compound even when it was surrounded by people sent to kill me. 

I don't think the killers of Angela were made to face the wrath of the law till date.

But those who blocked her story from being told are still in government in Imo State till today, May 2, 2021.

Iniobong Umoren's Case 

About two days ago, someone drew my attention to a post about a missing young woman, Iniobong Umoren, and pleaded that I use my contacts to help find her.

I asked for contacts of her close family members and the phone number of the young man who was said to have invited her for interview. 

When I tried to push out a story about her disappearance, I found it was already trending on Facebook and Twitter. 

But I was shocked to learn that the Akwa Ibom State Police command also got the report on the missing girl but would not take action allegedly because it was not up to 48 hours after she went missing.

I hope it is not true that the police turned down the family of Miss Umoren when they approached them with information and clear evidence including the last recorded call where she was said to be screaming before her line went dead.

It would be such a shocking story that in the 21st century, the police would insist on waiting for 48 hours before taking action to save the life of a citizen who was in a distress situation. 

Like many have indicated in the many posts on social media, Iniobong went in search of a job so she can earn a decent living and it is not a crime to do so.

She kept her siblings and friends informed of her movement, so no one would be left in any doubt about her whereabouts and the reason for her going to meet a man along the Airport Road, Uyo. 

Apparently, when she found out she had walked into a trap, she called her sister. She was screaming to pass a message to her sister that her life was in danger.

The sister didn't waste time reaching out to the public through the instrument of the social media. She called for help immediately. 

The family, I also learnt, made a report to the police with the hope they would swing into action to save the life of their sister.

I am not sure what the police did when they got the information but I know that Nigerians from every part of the country pushed Iniobong's story so much it trended with the hope she would be found and rescued alive. Alas!

Just like everything in Nigeria that's walking on its head, the case of Iniobong isn't any exception. 

Apparently, shortly after she made the last frantic attempt at saving her life by calling her sister, the 20 year-old monster who had tricked her to come for a job interview with the motive of raping, killing and harvesting her parts, had accomplished his motive.

But there are many questions to ask and I wish we could get all the answers.

When did the police get information about Iniobong's disappearance and when did they swing into action to rescue her?

Is it true that the same boy (monster) had lured other persons to his crib for fake jobs and some escaped or got insulted when they failed to walk into his trap?

Is it proper and or reasonable for the police to wait for 48 hours before acting on the report of missing persons at a time the country is being help on the jugular by kidnappers, killer herdsmen, Boko Haram and sundry sophisticated criminals?

Why did the police retrieve the mangled body of Iniobong and deposit her in the morgue several hours before telling badly traumatised siblings and relations?

Did the suspected killer confessed to the chairman of Uruan Local Government Area about what he had done to the girl?

If he had indeed confessed, why did the chairman allow him to flee and not hand him over to the police, tell members of Iniobong's family and the media about what had happened?

Why did it take the police several hours to tell members of Iniobong's family about what happened to her?

Is it true that some of Iniobong's body parts were missing, a possible indication that they might have been harvested for rituals?

What's the position of the government in this highly despicable act which has caused the state to trend for the wrong reason?

Far from it, I am not and cannot blame the government for what has happened unlike what happened to me in Imo when one Emelumba was CPS.

If there's anything, Udom Emmanuel has not encouraged plotical brigandage. However, unemployment is a serious issue and the government knows about it.

But the government and the police must take appropriate action to ensure justice for Iniobong and her family. 

It will be very unfortunate for the police to try in anyway to take shortcuts and or take actions that would further erode public confidence in them.

It will also be very insensitive for anyone to blame the poor girl for going to look for a job that resulted in her death. 

Social media analysts and experts should respect the dead and allow her family to mourn her in peace. 

Iniobong must not be another statistic of the institutional failures on Nigeria. 

Justice for her isn't too much to ask.

Enough ....

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