NIGERIAN fashion designer Izuchukwu Madubueze has committed suicide at his Florida home in the US after he was accused of a sexual assault that led to his name being added to a database of sex offenders.
Mr Madubueze, a creative designer and founder of Uhuru Designz, lives in Tampa, Florida, where he moved to when he relocated to the US some years ago. Popularly known as Izu, he graduated from King’s College, Lagos in 2013 before getting a scholarship to study at the University of Florida.
Over the last month, Twitter influencer and female rights activist, Nanichi Anese, added Mr Madubueze’s name to a list of sexual offenders on the social media site in late June. She claimed to have received information from some anonymous ladies, who alleged that Izu sexually assaulted them.
As a result, Izu, who was contacted by friends who saw the post, reached out to Ms Anese, demanding the identities of his accusers. However, Ms Anese declined the request, saying she had sworn to protect the ladies and after failed efforts to clear his name, proved abortive, Izu was said to have taken his own life.
Izu announced his own death on Twitter using Crowdfire App, an application which allows users to schedule their posts. In the tweet on July 17, he wrote: “Oh and if you’re reading this, I’m dead lol.”
As reactions trickled in, Ms Anese deactivated her Twitter account. However, before deactivating the account, she said her intentions were noble.
Ms Anese said: “I’m aching right now and have so many thoughts, so much anger, pain, guilt, sadness but this isn’t about me, it never has been. For those of you healing so many wounds right now, I’m sorry if any of your pain has come at my hands. This is the last of what I would ever wanted and I am really struggling because my friend is gone.”
In a private message to Ms Anese, whom he said was a friend, Izu had demanded details of the allegations against him. He lamented the fact that a lot of people had been calling him after seeing his name on the list but Ms Anese said she was told his victims said the harassment was not physical.
Izu expressed frustration at the accusation and released private messages of a lady, who asked to date him in 2017. He said while he did not wish to discredit any supposed victim’s story, his efforts at knowing his offence had been futile.
“I am 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,” he wrote.
A petition on change.org is calling for the prosecution of Ms Anese has been signed by over 5,000 people. Thousands of Nigerians on Twitter also called for justice for the victim, with the hashtag #JusticeforIZU, trending for hours.