A creative designer and founder of Uhuru Designz, a United States of America-based clothing company, Izuchukwu Madubueze (simply known as Izu), has taken his own life over an allegation of sexual assault.
Izu, who resided in Tampa, Florida, reportedly moved to the US some years ago.
He graduated from King’s College, Lagos, in 2013, before getting a scholarship to study at the University of Florida.
One good night, a few friends came over to his place and suggested a night out. He agreed and they got dressed and left to the party. A few hours later they were back home with some ladies they picked up at the party.
They had their fun times and they dispersed to their different places of abode. Only for Izu’s attachment to message him telling him that she has a lot of affection for him to which Izu reportedly turned down.
Using blackmail and false allegations, his accuser Nanichi Anese sought to tarnish Izu’s name by disclosing to him that she knew someone who he had raped in a “Non-Physical” manner in the past. And then she added Izu’s name to a list of sexual offenders on the social media late June 2020.
She claimed to have received information from some anonymous ladies, who alleged that the victim sexually assaulted them.
Izu, who was contacted by friends, who saw the post, reached out to Anese, demanding the identities of his accusers.
However, Anese allegedly declined the request, saying she had sworn to protect the ladies.
After failed efforts to clear his name, he took his own life.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, United States, has shed more light into the circumstances surrounding his death. The Public Information Office of the Sheriff’s Office told Neusroom that Madubueze shot himself on Thursday July 16, 2020.
“Izuchukwu Madubueze was the victim of what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound on July 16, 2020,” Deputy Travis Sibley, a spokesman of the PCSO said.
The death of the fashion entrepreneur has sparked a wave outrage on the internet on Monday over reports that he took his life after he was falsely accused of rape.
In several tweets examined Africa Daily News, New York, his friends, and other Twitter users said he was wrongly accused in June 2020 by a lady with the handle @nanichianese (also based in the United States) who claimed she was compiling “a compounded list of abusers to avoid for safety purpose”, and had included Madubueze’s name.
One of the deceased’s friends, Khalid Oshoke, said Madubueze had reached out to the lady who shared the list on Twitter to disclose the accuser so he could clear his name, but she refused and claimed the accuser prefers to remain anonymous.
“Someone was accused of nonphysical sexual assault and added to a list of rapists,” @KhalidOshoke tweeted. “The young man pleaded with the curator of said list to tell him who his accuser was, the curator refused. The young man has committed suicide and the curator has locked her account.”
He had also shared a personal note apologising to his accusers:
He wrote: “I just opened up about my personal survival story this morning so to be accused of harassment right after is coming as a shock to me. First I would like to apologize to anyone who feels I have harassed them in the past…”
Madubueze had insisted that he was “still pretty clueless as to who this is, so if you feel comfortable enough please feel free to reach out to me so I can understand wherever I went wrong and make amends and do better overall.”
Madubueze shot himself after posting what appears to be a suicide note on his Twitter page. “Oh and if you’re reading this, I’m dead lol,” he tweeted at 1am (WAT) on Friday July 17, 2020.
Since reports of Madubueze went viral on the internet, many Nigerians tweeting with the hashtag #JusticeforIzu, have taken to Twitter to call for justice and also condemn false rape accusations. Many argued that it could ruin the life of the accused and also make the story of real rape victims unbelievable.
In June, a popular medical practitioner on Twitter, Dr Olufunmilayo was accused of rape by his estranged girlfriend Bola Aseyan in the United Kingdom.
A popular Twitter user Kelvin Odanz wrote: “Let’s collectively stand against anonymous accounts accusing random men of rape.Let’s give men a fair hearing, listen to their side of the story. Let’s stop this culture of absolutely believing ALL women.Let’s also take a stand against false rape accusations.
“And some men don’t have the mental strength to withstand the barrage of insults, calls, negative attention they get when accused.”
Another Twitter user with the handle @LadyGrasha wrote: “The story behind #JusticeforIZU Is a sad one and still hammers what I’ve been saying. It’s important to listen to both sides of a story. An allegation ain’t enough proof. Of course some ladies don’t agree with me but it’s true. False rape allegations are real and a crime.”
@ToyosiGodwin tweeted: “If you are going to accuse someone of rape, DO NOT DO IT ANONYMOUSLY! Tell the rapist he/she is a rapist with your chest. If you are right, you’ll get justice. Rape is too big a crime.”
At present there has been no official statement from his family, no investigation into his death to properly determine cause of death and if he had any pre-existing mental health conditions that could have been exacerbated by the perceived public humiliation he endured. There has been no attempts to involve law enforcement or respect the wishes of his family by allowing the rule of law prevail. Instead they have kept his name in the news by amplifying the accusations made against him, accusations that they are as yet unable to refute with any tangible evidence.
His death, understandably is tragic, but the outrage that has followed it illustrates the reality of the shortcomings of individual justice by public shaming. Most people were unaware of the accusations made against Mr. Madubueze until his death was used as a clarion call to resurrect the red herring of false rape accusations being an equivalent to rape/sexual assault.
Research has consistently shown that false rape accusations are dwarfed by actual rape cases, many of whom are deliberately ignored by law enforcement. This doesn’t invalidate the hurt and damage that can be caused by a false rape accusation when the person making the accusation has class or race privilege and as such must be addressed appropriately.
Many promoters of false rape accusations as a heinous crime, often argue that law enforcement should be allowed to severely deal with genuine cases of false rape/sexual assault accusations and that social media should not be involved.
There are lessons we must learn from this tragedy, we need systems that work, not individuals with power to fight our causes. The systems we build must show equity and fairness to all, not just the parties we identify with. And we must hold the system we create accountable, not use it only when it works to our advantage.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK