Sometime in 2012, Nigerians woke up to the heart rending news of the murder of a 25 year old undergraduate of Nasarawa State University, Cynthia Osukogu, daughter of a retired army general, by some boys in a hotel room in Lagos.
She had visited the boys in Lagos despite never meeting them physically before, but merely through a social media outlet, the Facebook. They had lured her to Lagos where they drugged her in their hotel room and raped and strangled her in a bid to steal money they believed she had, probably because of her rich parentage.
One of the suspects, Eloka, said they killed Cynthia because they thought she had a lot of money in her possession. But after the dastardly act, they did not find a reasonable amount of money on her.
According to the suspects, they met her on the Facebook and invited her to come to Lagos to buy goods at cheap prices.
'When she got to Lagos, we took her to a hotel in Festac. We thought she had a lot of money, but she said she didn't have any money. We gave her Reflon tablet in her Ribena drink. After this, we slept with her for 12 hours in that hotel. We discovered that the tablet did not work quickly on her.
'We then attacked her, tied her up and used celotape to cover her mouth. After that, we beat her to tell us where she kept the money.
'When we didn't get any money from her, we tied her mouth and strangled her and then we abandoned her in the hotel and fled,' Eloka had confessed.
That was the sad end of a young woman whose parents had placed their hopes on. Because of a combination of stupidity and youthful naivety, she fell victim to bad boys who specialised in luring, raping and stealing from innocent girls.
Last Thursday, Cynthia was in the news again. A Lagos High Court pronounced two of the suspects guilty of murder and sentenced them to death by hanging, while discharging and acquitting two others for want of conclusive evidence. The judgement brought to an end, the near five year trial of the suspects.
Now that the saga appears to have come to an end, are there any lessons to be learned by young people in these days when the social media has been exerting such an overwhelming influence on them?
Ordinarily, the social media has its good sides. Indeed, the good sides actually overweigh the negative sides. Being in the computer age, knowledge and use of media apparatuses will always be advantageous, not just to the young people, but to everybody.
But it is the way people use it that makes the difference. These days, many young people use the social media just to either gossip or engage in idle chatter. They also use it to access the wrong information and materials like pornography, et al. These, certainly, will not give the desired result expected from the correct use of the social media.
It was because of such abuse of the social media that Cynthia fell into the hands of bad people and paid with her life. The culprits may have faced justice, but Cynthia will never return to her family and friends.
The social media should be used for things that ennoble. Useful contacts can be made that will change the lives of the users for life. Useful knowledge can also be gained that will benefit society.
Often times, it has been argued that parents should restrict the use of the social media by their children. This is almost impossible, given the kind of access young people have to it.
What we think is best is for parents to talk to their children and educate them on the proper use of the social media, as well as on the dangers therein. The times are bad and many wolves go about in sheep's clothing. The young people should know this and be better armed against such people.
The unfortunate story of Cynthia should be a constant reminder of the dangers of the social media and should serve as a lesson to others to avert a recurrence.