Nigeria is Ripe for Jungle Justice, but… by Abubakar Usman

Abubakar Usman
Abubakar Usman

The most harrowing thing about jungle justice in Nigeria is the fact that common men are the ones caught in the web of the dastardly act.

The public outcry that greeted the murder of what the police said are 27 Students of Federal Polytechnic, Mubi in Adamawa State had barely subsided, when another gory tail of murder emanated from Aluu, a community in River state. While the 27 students, according to the Police, were maimed and sent to the world beyond by yet to be identified men on the day of Nigeria’s Independence, the Aluu incident occurred four days after, this time involving four Students of the University of Port-Harcourt.

The students: Ugonna, Lloyd, Tekena, and Chidiaka, were paraded naked in public, beaten mercilessly to the state of being unconscious, and, as can be seen in a now-viral video – burnt alive in an off-campus hostel in Aluu, Rivers. What was their crime? They allegedly stole phones and Laptops in the off campus community.

Some have posited in their arguments that this form of justice carried out on the four students is simply because our judicial system has failed us. Agreed that Justice is not being served in Nigeria, but as lopsided and skewed as our judicial processes may be, there is still a provision that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Some of us will want to ask, what court of law; but do we ever imagine that these supposed thieves could be innocent?

Just a few weeks ago in Lagos, a woman was seriously lynched almost to the point of death because she was suspected to have kidnapped the three kids found with her. As soon as she was cited, a mob descended heavily on her. Unknown to them, one of the kid belong to her and the others, her aunt. If not for the intervention of God through her mother who arrived at the scene to identify her, she would have been killed for a crime she didn’t commit.

Incidences like this occur every day that we never get to hear of or nothing is ever done to correct. Suffice to add that the perpetrators of jungle justice are not peculiar to ordinary citizens who take laws into their hands because they are frustrated with the justice system in Nigeria. Even those who are supposed to enforce the laws of the land are guilty of this crime. Take the Military onslaught on perceived Boko Haram members for example; there have been cases of extra judicial killings all over the states in which JTF operates. Chief amongst them is the killing of the sect founder, Muhammed Yusuf, which many believe escalated the Boko Haram insurgency.

On Monday in Maiduguri, several members of the civilian population were killed and countless number of houses burnt by men of the JTF. Why? A soldier was killed by the bomb that went off in the city. These civilians may not have been responsible for the death of the soldier, but they had to pay the price for it and all what the Military would do is to say the JTF has killed suspected Boko Haram members.

The most harrowing thing about jungle justice in Nigeria is the fact that common men are the ones caught in the web of the dastardly act. People whose means of breakfast are not guaranteed by the time they go to bed at night; People who get oppressed because they cannot get justice anywhere in the country; people whose lives are daily being frustrated because of the failure of our system. No job, no food, no water, no security, no light, no school, nothing, yet it is this same people that take laws into their hands when the opportunity present itself.

We are gradually becoming a class of people losing the human nature God created us with, but unfortunately we are losing it on the very people that do not deserve it. I do not in any way support stealing, but assuming the four gruesomely murdered UNIPORT students actually stole phones and Laptops of, is the beating, maiming and eventual burning to death of the students an adequate punishment for such a crime? Those laptops and phones could not have caused any serious damage to whoever owns them, compared to the consequences of the stealing and looting of our elites, which causes untold hardship to large number of people.

A road construction contract is awarded to a contractor; he does not carry out the job, but disappears with the money and leaves the road in bad shape. When people ply the road, accidents occur, hundreds die, cars and other valuables are damaged, yet we don’t kill the contractor involved. Money is made available for drugs to be provided for hospitals, someone, somewhere sits on it, people die because they could not get adequate care, yet we don’t set any of the persons involved ablaze.

If jungle justice has come to stay in Nigeria, I will throw my weight behind it. But it must not be meted out on ordinary citizens who might have been forced by circumstance to do whatever they have done; and that is if all the people that have been beaten, maimed or killed extra judiciously are actually guilty of the crimes they are accused of. If our justice system have failed us and we cannot rely on whatever outcome that may result from it; if we cannot get fairness in crimes committed against us and we want to adopt jungle justice as the solution, it must start from those who have destroyed those values, those who created the environment that is rife for jungle justice. If our thieving Governors, Ministers, Permanent Secretary’s, Local Government Chairmen, fuel subsidy thieves, pension fraud thieves etc are found wanting, whether or not they have been proven guilty by a court of law, we should extend the jungle justice mantra on them; it is by so doing that the Aluu killings, if need be, can be justified.

I will like to end by saying that the group of heartless and barbaric animals who killed the four aspiring students of the University of Port Harcourt must be made to fully bear the responsibility for their actions. The Nigerian Police Force, the judicial system and the Government must also realize that it is their failure that gave birth to incidences like this and therefore must see to the end of this matter and dispense justice as appropriate. We must begin to let the law take its course, because the consequences of this kind of action are that close friends and relatives of the murdered victims would find it easy to extend same fate to others if they have the kind of opportunity. All they will say is after all, our brother, friends etc were killed and nothing was done to the perpetrators; we can do same and get away with it.

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