On November 16, 2016, I was taking a stroll through my twitter timeline when I came across the photo of a “7-year-old boy” beaten and burnt to death in Lagos State for allegedly stealing garri.
My immediate response was anger; I was upset over so many things. Since last year, I and many others have screamed ourselves hoarse over several human rights violations by the government and people of our dear country Nigeria. From the herdsmen crisis in most of the Middle Belt region to the massacre of members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, it has been one non-stop blood fest in this country.
One is tempted to join the league of millions who no longer care; when something is your norm, hearing about it no longer evokes the kind of emotions expected to arise from visuals of brutality and animalistic behaviour. Why do millions of Nigeria carry on in the face of brutality? How does brutality become normalized? I’ll tell you how.
Brutality becomes norm when the evolving culture of a geographical location is based on it. Brutality becomes norm where injustice is the order of the day. Brutality is the norm when the people lose faith in the system and resort to governing themselves; everyone is lord over himself and we all act according to our personal constitution.
Lastly, brutality is the norm when brutality is allowed to fester and recognized as the norm.
But then, we have made up our minds to mould Nigeria into what we want Nigeria to be and to leave a better nation for our children. A good number of us lend our voices to human rights causes and scream at the top of our lungs to ensure justice is served. Sometimes we force the government’s hand, sometimes we scream in vain but we scream anyway.
Yesterday was no different. I returned to social media in the evening and added my voice to the conversation around the lynching of the “7-year-old boy”. But we decided lamenting wasn’t enough. What else can we do beyond talking? I and another Twitter user decided to take the case up.
Many of us have not recovered from the Aluu 4 case and as depressing as that case was, no convictions have been made; Nigeria has moved on. We decided to use this case to make sure the government takes stern action against lynching in Nigeria. We created the #JungleJusticeBoyhashtag and reached out to the ministry of interior. The minister had called both the commissioner of police for Lagos State and the AIG in charge of the zone with specific orders to investigate the case and report.
We also reached out to Afenifere leaders; we were looking for all respected voices to add to the rebuke of this dastardly act. Yinka Odumakin was on it immediately and called throughout the night for verifications with the intention of proceeding the next morning.
Honourable Joseph Bamgbose representing Badagry constituency in the federal House of Representatives also responded asking for details to work with.
Further down the line however, another angle to the story surfaced. A Twitter user, @Harry_Obi narrated the untold suffering a group of hoodlums in the Orile axis of Lagos State., brought upon his family. These hoodlums had a modus operandi; they stab their victims to rob them of their phones. The narrator’s brother was one of their victims and he died from his injuries.
Other eyewitnesses also reported that the victim of the lynching stabbed a young man and stole his phone, his partners in crime fled but he was caught by the people who morphed into a mob. They beat him mercilessly; one man in particular kept using a heavy object on the victim. He was stripped, paraded, one of his eyes was swollen, blood was gushing from his forehead, they put a tyre on him and set him on fire; standard procedure for jungle justice in Nigeria.
The emotions that came with these revelations cannot be fully described but one thing stuck out through all narratives, THE NIGERIAN POLICE WAS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.
The Nigerian Police were absent during the murder of Harry Obi’s brother in Lagos.
The Nigerian Police has received several reports about that Lagos area and the new wave of crime, specifically the modus operandi of the robbers and nothing has been done about it.
The Nigerian police were absent during the lynching of this supposed phone thief.
THE PEOPLE HAVE ZERO FAITH IN THE NIGERIAN POLICE.
When people know there is no law, no justice, they take the law into their hands, they define the parameters, and they do what they want to.
That a busy market will have a public lynching in broad daylight and no form of law enforcement will attempt to step in is disastrous; questions need to be asked and answers given.
Back and forth and round and round with this issue from victim to victim to victim to victim, there is one common offender, one link that led to the loss of several lives; The Nigerian Police.
This article started off as a call to end Public Lynching. Hopefully, the message is passed.
However, it will be self deceit to not point out the obvious; as long as the Nigerian Police remains the way it is, the state will continue to decline and these things will never stop.
The change has to begin from somewhere.
Ndi Kato is a young humanitarian with a focus on communities in North Central Nigeria through the Dinidari Empowerment Foundation. She tweets from @LadyMacbeth89.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.