Iniobong Umoren was a young graduate who, like many others, was looking forward to practicing the skills she had acquired in the university. Unfortunately, that dream was cut off in a gruesome manner. On April 29, 2021, Umoh Uduak, Umoren’s friend, raised an alarm on Twitter that Umoren had been kidnapped.
Umoren was a recent graduate who hoped to serve her country by finding employment that will allow her to support her family. She posted on her Twitter profile that she needs a job while waiting to be called for her National Youth Service Corps because of everything going on.
After learning that she had received a job offer, she decided to visit the company. She learned that she had been trapped during the entire incident. Uduak, her buddy, attempted to contact her but was unable to. Later she got a voice note from her late friend who was screaming for help.
It was later discovered that Umoren was raped and killed at the hands of Frank Akpan who offered to give her a job in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria, in April 2021.
Everyone was shocked by Umoren’s death, which also sparked a lot of conversations on social media. Many young Nigerians emphasized that justice must be done. To make sure the deceased receives the justice she deserves, the hashtag #JusticeforHinyUmoren was created. Akpan, who confessed to the crime in February, was given the death by hanging verdict this week.
Umoren’s case is a peculiar one because justice was served thanks to the power of social media. It is imperative to note that Umoren wouldn’t have gotten justice if her friend didn’t raise the alarm on Twitter. On the app, people searched for a tweet when she mentioned she was looking for a job and when her murderer replied to her tweet, that set the basics for investigation, and in days, his home was discovered, her body was found and he was arrested. This sad situation angered Nigerians because this was a young girl just trying to earn a living. This birthed the hashtag, #JusticeforHinyUmoren.
A platform for organizations, activists, and people to call for justice is created when social media is used as a tool to call for help, elevate voices and stories, raise awareness and help people in need. Just like other movements like #MeToo #ENDSARS and #BlackLivesMatter, social media has the power and opportunity to create online communities and safe spaces where people come together and find support on issues bothering them.
During the pandemic, people became more reliant on social media. Around 80% or more of the adult population started making substantial use of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, making them the most popular social media platforms among adults. Utilizing social media is now a daily habit for us; whether it’s for a job at the workplace or in school, we are completely and exclusively dependent on it.
Social media has become a tool for social justice in relation to key issues since it allows users to interact online and voice their concerns, from any part of the world. People use these platforms to launch campaigns in support of important issues like racial discrimination, sexual assault, murder, mental health advocacy, and anything else that stems from a personal or non-personal experience. It is also viewed as an avenue for people to independently create awareness and pursue justice.
Using Umoren’s case as a reference, the rapid growth of the internet and usage of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have opened a window for criminals to misuse these platforms for their evil purposes. It’s also important we see social media as a tool for purposeful activism, a call for help, elevating people’s stories, preserving history and fighting for justice.