Jungle justice on the rise in Nigeria
By Mariam Sanni, Abuja
It has become quite unfortunate that the citizens have decided to ignore the duties and responsibilities of security agencies and opted to execute law themselves through jungle justice which has recently been on the rise in some parts of the country particularly the South West region, AljazirahNigeria reports.
Incidents relating to jungle justice have recently taken a part in national discourse. Within three months, over 38 cases of jungle justice have been recorded around the country, with the south-western part experiencing more incidents.
While some have survived to tell stories of their experience, others, unfortunately, have been lynched nay burnt beyond recognition.
Jungle justice is a punishment meted out by individuals without any legal authority to a suspected criminal, whose life is often snuffed out by a stick and stone-wielding mob.
An unlawful act
No doubt the suspect might have committed the crime but according to the law, no man is deemed a criminal until he or she has been found guilty in the presence of the judge.
It is not up to the members of the public to take justice into their own hands. The police and courts, however inept they are, are there to deal with these kinds of things.
It is just a pity that people participating in a lynch mob don’t have a better understanding of the crime they are committing due to lack of education.
It simply becomes a simple story of the kettle calling the pot black; one murderer killing another because they have no legal right to kill anybody.
Most respondents spoken with in the course of the report say the sad thing is that most Nigerians are hypocrites.
“When you see a real thief, like a politician who has stolen billions of naira from the public coffers, you bow down and prostrate in front of them. You show reverence to a big thief and lynch a small insignificant thief – double standards especially when a thief is a thief,” a respondent tells AljazirahNigeria.
Another says it is “high time lawmakers who like to busy themselves passing ‘tolotolo’ laws pass a law that outlaws ‘jungle justice’!
“Nobody has the right to act as judge, jury and executioner, taking the life of a criminal suspect however heinous their crimes might be. The courts are there to pass judgement and not the people – the rule of law is what prevents anarchy and what makes us different from animals that kill each other at random. And in the words of the Bible, ‘let he who has no sin cast the first stone,’ a legal practitioner, Lawal Mustapha says.
One of such recent incidents is the recent attack on a 7-year-boy who was beaten and burned by mob in Lagos alleging that he stole foodstuff.
The barbaric and heartless act was a shock to Nigerians who saw the video and photos that went viral on social media in November.
Some days afterwards, two men were killed in Lagos. They were accused of breaking and robbing a fashion shop in the market.
After the blood thirsty mob beat them mercilessly with whatever they could lay their hands on, the crowd hung tires on their necks, emptied a can of petrol on them and set them ablaze.
Two others caught were lucky as the police came in a van and rescued them.
In Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti State, irate youths recently arrested a suspected kidnapper, who was reportedly in his late forties. He was said to have been in the possession of a child’s body as early as 7.40am. After the youths arrested him, they handed him over to the men of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, an organisation whose role, among others, includes securing the environment.
But the restless youths hated the time-wasting by the OPC.
They took the laws into their hands.
“The man was initially handed over to the Oodua local vigilance group. We expected them to torture him but they [he vigilance group members] did no such thing. They kept him there and wasted our time. At a point, we got angry and took him to the main road and burnt him,” one of the perpetrators told journalists.
An Abuja based human Right activist and Executive Director Reclaim Godly Values Foundation Mr Ayodele Edwards said that the inhuman act must be checked and condemned with all sense of responsibility.
“The incidence of extra judicial killing or if you like to say ‘ Jungle Justice’ seems to be on the rise in our nation Nigeria. It is an attempt to judge any person perceived to have done wrong in the eyes of a group of people who now mobilise a mob action to execute a judgement by popular wish ending in either being beaten to death or being set ablaze.”
According to him, jungle justice is not backed by Nigerian Law and should be widely condemned.
“It doesn’t give opportunity for the victim to be interrogated by law enforcement agents in a bid to unravel the root cause of the alleged crime and collaborators if any.”
He explained that it promotes a society where people disregard the rule of law and esteem self-help and personal vendetta as a way of executing justice.
Edward said that it can implicate those around the scene, by- standers and those just watching the incidence as accomplices could as well be prosecuted
Reacting to the unlawful act, the Lagos Police Command in a recent statement said the police would not tolerate people taking laws into their hands under any guise.
It also addressed the recent killing of an under-aged suspect in Lagos.
“Preliminary investigation is ongoing as the command is assuring the members of the public that if it actually happened in Lagos, perpetrators of such barbaric act will be arrested and prosecuted as it will not tolerate jungle justice to be meted out to anyone regardless of any offence such person has committed.
“The command hereby implores anyone with useful information that can aid investigation to kindly contact office of the Commissioner of Police through 07019014800 or that of the police public relations officer through 07019014743 and better still any of our control rooms through 767 or 112.
“The command will keep investigation open until it gets to the root of the matter. However, if after investigation nothing indicates that such occurred within the state, it will be treated as a social media ruse.
“The command appreciates the concern and efforts of the members of the public in their support to curb crimes within the state and its environs.”