Culture and Lifestyle

Chronicle of Iniubong’s Death and the Throes of Unemployment

Very few deaths in recent times have captured the attention of Nigerians compared to that of the young Akwa Ibom lady, Iniubong Umoren, who was lured and annihilated in cold blood near Uyo, by a vicious ritual killer and rapist, Uduak Akpan. It is quite soothing that the police, with the help of the investigating powers of social media, have gotten hold of him.

Iniubong had perused the social media, passionately searching for a job after graduating from the University of Uyo. She thought she could find something profitable to occupy herself while waiting for the National Youth Service Corp call-up letter. She was an orphan who, all through her years in school, took up teaching jobs in nearby private schools to keep body and soul together.

She applied and was invited by a Twitter “job advertiser”. Little did Iniubong realise that her first job interview would also be her last. She was lured by one Frank Ezekiel Akpan who did not give her a specific interview location but asked her to be on her way to Oron road (by the Airport).

Iniubong left home on 29 April 2021 for an interview at an indistinguishable venue. On her way, she kept chatting with her friend, Uduak Umoh who resides in Lagos State. Umoh herself had just travelled to Lagos to look for a job three days before the fateful day.

Iniobong intuitively turned on her phone location tracker as she gave details of her movements to Umoh. When Iniobong arrived at the location of the interview, she abruptly stopped responding to chats and calls. Ini however was able to send a one-second audio message that did not really convey anything meaningful. That was what raised her friend’s curiosity who called only to hear her friend Iniobong screaming. The line then went totally dead.

An alarmed Umoh took to Twitter to report the case but not very many people took her seriously. Umoh called Iniobong’s sister and informed her about the latest development. Ini’s sister went to report the matter at the police station. The police said she should wait till after 24 hours before commencing investigations.

The next morning Iniobong’s sister rushed back to the police station. The police consistently claimed that they were on the case.

Umoh continued to investigate the issue online. She noticed that a particular Twitter user had just deleted his comment under Ini’s post about the job. She traced the account and found out that a certain Emem Obong was the one who deleted the comment, changed his name and even deactivated his accounts across various social media platforms. Umoh continued to report her finding on social media and fifteen hours later, her tweet began to get wide attention.

The intimidating power of social media came alive when the Twitter community sprang into action. Lots of comments and retweets followed. The Twitter army started digging up things about Ini and Uduak Akpan. Umoh released Akpan’s phone number. People called the number on Truecaller. Lots of Twitter users came up with ideas that finally helped in tracking Ini’s final locations. In less than two days, the army of Nigerian Twitter users was able to come up with quality information that led to the arrest of the killer’s father, Ezekiel Akpan. Eventually, the killer emerged and then went to the station where he was detained for further investigation.

Okido Macdon, the spokesperson of Akwa Ibom police command, said that Akpan confessed that he deliberately lured Ini to his house under the pretext of giving her a job before sexually assaulting and killing her. To cover his tracks, Akpan confessed that he buried her in a shallow grave in his father’s compound.

The police report hinted that Akpan killed Iniubong in self-defence. Although that was the kind of explanation expected from the murderer, no one expected the police to buy such. Lawyers online have explained that there is no way Akpan can make himself the victim since he was the one that invited Ini with a sinister motive.

The internet is livid with the police’s slow-motion approach and possible complicity in the case as there were a lot of things that did not add up. Before his arrest, Akpan was said to have confessed to his local government chairman before making an escape to Calabar.

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Why didn’t the local government chairman hand him over to the police immediately after the suspect made that confession? Why did it take such a long time before the police started their own investigation? Why was the police waiting for investigations from Twitter users before making any effort to investigate or make an arrest?

Could it be that Akpan’s parents are probably influential members of the society and that could be why the chairman did nothing on the issue?

Some sources have reported that more bodies have been found at the site of the shallow grave where Ini’s body was dumped. This is undoubtedly a long history of rape and murder that were so discreetly done, that they escaped the eye and arm of the law and the general public.

The question now is -what is the fate of an average Nigerian seeking employment? Ini’s case is just one in a million where people have experienced various terrible things trying to find a job. There are so many fake job interview locations in the country. Sometimes, the victims are robbed of personal belongings and others are even put to death.

Ini’s heartrending story is a stark warning to every young Nigerian seeking employment. If you receive any message for a job interview you never applied for, don’t go. If you got an interview invitation, please verify online. You can type the address in Google or various employment platforms or make extensive enquiries. Always look for the website of any company that sends you the invitation. If they don’t have a website, they are most likely to be a big scam. Even those with websites should be evaluated critically.

It is equally vital that governments at all levels should do something about the unemployment rate in Nigeria. All state governments should also have a way of aggregating genuine job vacancies so that the crime rate resulting from seeking employment would reduce drastically or even cease to exist anymore. We do not need another Iniubong to be eliminated before we all respond proactively.