Dino Melaye’s anti-jungle justice bill makes progress at Senate

Dino Melaye
Dino Melaye

A bill for a law to protect persons against “jungle justice” made progress at the Senate on Wednesday, scaling second reading.

“Jungle justice” or “mob justice” commonly refers to often brutal extrajudicial punishment of person suspected to have committed a crime or accused of acting in ways contrary to prevailing norms in a community.

The anti-jungle justice bill, SB 109 – formally titled ‘Bill for an Act for the prohibition and protection of persons from lynching, mob action and extrajudicial executions and other related offences 2016’ – was sponsored by Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi).

In his lead debate, Mr. Melaye reminded the Senate of some different cases of extrajudicial executions, including the #Aluu4.

The #Aluu4 occurred in October 2012, when four students of the University of Port Harcourt – Ugonna Obuzor, Toku Llyod, Chiadika Biringa and Tekenah Elkanah – were lynched after they were falsely accused of theft in the Rivers State community of Aluu.

The act elicited widespread condemnation and cry for justice, using #Aluu4 on social media.

In a recent case, an Igbo trader, Bridget Agbahime, 74, was killed by a rampaging mob in Kano after an alleged act of blasphemy in June this year.

A month later, a preacher and member of Redeemed Christian Church of God was killed by some assailants while preaching at Kubwa, an FCT satellite town.

Abdullahi Adamu (APC-Nassarawa), Ovie Omo-Agege (Labour-Delta), Usman Nafada (APC-Bauchi), Lanre Tejuoso (APC-Ogun) were among the Senators who spoke in support of the bill.

But Mr. Adamu noted that extrajudicial killings don’t happen because of lack of constitutional process but due to a lack of “proper structures for criminal trial”.

Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio (PDP-Akwa Ibom), urged his colleagues to allow the bill to pass, but said it had to be “fine-tuned” at the committee stage.

In his contribution, Deputy Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC-Kebbi) expressed concern that the bill may cause “jurisprudentially, conflict of laws”, making reference of the extant law in the constitution and penal codes.

He, however, said the bill had “beautiful intentions”.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, after it passed voice vote called by Ike Ekweremadu standing in for Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Mr. Saraki was attending his trial for false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

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