There is confusion over the real identity of the victim of jungle justice meted to an alleged robber last weekend in Lagos, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
Reports went viral on social media Wednesday claiming a seven-year-old boy was caught stealing, beaten and set ablaze by an angry mob. A video of the report showed a lone man hitting, repeatedly, a bloodied man lying on the ground with what looked like a vehicle part, and later a large stone.
The police on Thursday said there is nothing to suggest that the incident occurred in Lagos, or that the victim of the mob justice was a seven-year-old.
“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 have committed,” Dolapo Badmos, the Lagos police spokesperson, said.
“The command will keep investigation open until it gets to the root of the matter, however, if at the conclusion of investigation nothing indicates that such occurred within the state it will be treated as one of the social media ruse.”
There are different versions about the location of the incident. While a version of the report stated that it occurred at Orile-Iganmu, along Badagry expressway, another indicated that it happened in the Badagry area.
People living in Badagry area who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES over the phone said no such incident happened in the area.
On Wednesday, PREMIUM TIMES visited the site of a jungle justice that occurred in the early hours of last Saturday at Alafia, near Orile-Iganmu in Lagos.
The corpse, now in an advanced stage of decomposition, lay near the rail track at Alafia bus stop, and passersby cover their noses to keep away the putrefying odour.
People who have business in the area declined to talk about it for fear of being arrested by the police.
But multiple witnesses, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, told this newspaper that the dead victim was not “a small boy,” but an adult who was a member of a three-man armed robbery gang.
A commercial motorcyclist at Alafia bus stop said he watched as the mob descended on the alleged thief before a passenger came and took him away.
“There were three of them. This one that died was the one that snatched the bag of somebody who was travelling and gave to his colleagues,” he said.
“The owner of the bag held on to him and they were struggling, he stabbed the man but he still held him until people came and started chasing him and caught him.”
Another witness, a taxi driver at the bus stop, said the incident happened around 5 a.m. on Saturday.
“After he was killed, we were told the next day that his people – I think they are Abakiliki people – came and cut off his two hands to take to the village,” said the taxi driver.
PREMIUM TIMES observed that the deceased’s two hands had been chopped off at the wrist.
On Wednesday, Abayomi Shogunle, a senior police officer in charge of the police Complaint Response Unit, said via his Twitter handle that an “adult male corpse” recovered at the Orile area of Lagos had been deposited at the mortuary for autopsy.
Report from Lagos Commissioner of @PoliceNG indicates that NO BOY CHILD WAS MOBBED/BURNT in Badagry or any part of the State as circulated 1
on Social Media. A yet to be identified ADULT MALE corpse was today recovered at Orile area of Lagos State. The ADULT MALE corpse has been 2
deposited at the mortuary for autopsy. @PoliceNG investigation ongoing to determine how this ADULT MALE died. Detail press release later. 3
It is unclear if Mr. Shogunle, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, was referring to the same corpse at the Alafia area of Orile, which, as at Thursday morning, had ruptured with the intestine spilling out of its stomach.
Although police officers were at the scene of the incident on Wednesday, according to residents in the area, the corpse is still lying there more than 24 hours later.
The Divisional Police Officer at Orile police station declined to comment on the incident.
“Please you know what to do. Go and talk to the PPRO (Police Public Relations Officer).
Ms. Badmos, a Superintendent of Police, did not respond to enquiries on efforts to remove the corpse five days after the incident.