At last, the anxiety of retired Major General Frank Osokogu and his wife, Joy, over the disappearance of their 24-year-old daughter, Cynthia Udoka Osokogu, is over.
But while the anxiety over her whereabouts has been addressed, it has just compounded their agony.
While they were fretting over her whereabouts, after she had left her base in Nasarawa State for Lagos to shop for her boutique called Dress Code, they never knew that her body was lying in a Lagos mortuary. Their sorrow increased last Saturday when the Lagos Police Command identified her body as that of the person that her family had declared missing since July 22.
Sources said the late Cynthia, after leaving Nasarawa State, was welcomed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos by some unknown persons. From the airport, she was lodged in a hotel in FESTAC Town and her trail petered out.
Attempts by her family members and concerned friends to ascertain her whereabouts proved abortive, thereby prompting them to circulate messages on the social media network announcing her disappearance.
None of her family members thought that she could have been dead, as they just thought she missed her way or something less fatal had happened to her.
According to reports, the deceased who until her death was running a postgraduate programme in Public Administration at the Nasarawa State University, was lured to Lagos by a group of men whose stock-in-trade is to lure young girls and kill them after dispossessing them of their belongings.
Born on November 10, 1987, Cynthia was killed three months away from her 25th birthday. Sources close to the family said she was the last born and only daughter of her parents and because of her vantage position in the family, everybody doted on her.
We learnt that the deceased before her death, had been chatting with some new friends on Facebook for a few months, not knowing that her newfound friends had other plans on their minds beyond mere friendship. On realising that she was a frequent visitor to Lagos, her new friends, described as two young men, were said to have promised to host her on her next trip.
They were said to have paid for her flight ticket as well as her hotel fee and based on the level of trust she had developed for them, she went along with the plan without knowing that they had sinister motives.
After picking her from the airport, they drove her to a hotel in FESTAC Town where she was lodged. As part of their sinister plot, they had recruited a member of staff of the hotel and a pharmacist who produced a toxic substance used to drug her.
The deceased was tied up and eventually robbed of all the money she brought to shop for her business and then strangled to death. Her assailants dispossessed her of her phone, her identity card and other things that could be used to identify her.
Her details in the hotel were scanty, apparently to throw off the police and hotel management, as they would think she was a call girl who died in service.
The hotel management which had no way of identifying her were said to have reported the incident to the police and subsequently, her body was deposited at the mortuary.
However, nemesis caught up with her killers after they had thought they had got away with the crime when one of them mistakenly answered her phone. The call was traced to FESTAC and based on that, her family submitted a missing person’s report to the Area E Command in FESTAC which used that to trace her body to the mortuary.
We gathered that the Lagos State Police Command immediately commenced investigations and six persons were arrested by Tuesday.
It was also gathered from reliable sources that arrests were made when the policemen upon interrogating some employees at the hotel, discovered the CCTV footage of the suspects when they came into the hotel with the deceased.
Two of the suspects who are university students have confessed that they killed her, adding that she was their sixth victim. According to them, they specialised in luring unsuspecting young women to rob them of their possessions before killing them.
During their confession, they disclosed that after committing the crime, they had left the hotel and deleted her from their Facebook friends’ list to remove any trace of their connection to her.
Armed with their confessions and the CCTV footage, the police made additional arrests of the pharmacist and a member of the hotel staff.
A police source said the culprits belong to a syndicate that specialised in luring young women to Lagos for the purpose of business only to kill them.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, confirmed the incident but refused to give details, adding that the Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko, would brief the press on the matter today.
In a tribute to the deceased posted on the internet, her best friend, one Aishatu Ene Ella, said: “In the last few days, my heart has been torn, stripped and broken in pieces first by the disappearance and death of my dearest friend and secondly by the wickedness exhibited by Nigerians, passing judgment on someone they never knew or met.”
She described the late Cynthia as a model and businesswoman who at the age of 24 was already making money independently even though her parents could take care of her needs. After making three times her capital on her first sales, she was said to have immediately re-invested and got a flagship shop at Keffi, the capital city of Nasarawa State, at the age of 21.
“The Cynthia we all knew always put people first before herself. Anytime I had a charity project to execute, I always called her because I know she would champion it.
“To her mother, Cynthia was her heart. When it was time to serve in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), while others would work their service to areas full of opportunities like Abuja, Lagos and Port Hacourt, Cynthia worked her service to crisis-ridden Jos to be close to her mother,” her friend said.