by Nana Salaudeen
There are no people as united as a mob. The mob does not know religion or economics or ethnicity. They are not concerned with law and order and they certainly care not about the innocence of their victims. They only know one thing; murder – and of course, how to get away with it.
So, be it the Aluu 4 lynching that happened in Rivers state where four young men were brutally murdered and their bodies paraded for the community to see because someone accused them of stealing laptops/mobile phones or the mob in Kano state that callously tortured and killed a woman outside her market stall because she told them not to perform ablution in front of her store or even the young man who was tortured and eventually slaughtered by his fellow compatriots in Ondo state because he was perceived to be gay – the mob is the same. They come together for a common goal, do what needs to be cold-heartedly done, disperse and go about their daily lives.
When someone is suspected of a crime, the mob abruptly becomes the judge and executioner, many times to shattering effect. They chant together, they plunder together and they destroy together. Part of the reason jungle justice is underreported and overlooked in Nigeria is that it has somehow been able to merge itself into the widespread plot of being one of the ways ‘fairness’ is dispersed. It also shows the complete lack of trust in Nigeria’s justice system especially by the common man. Largely, the mob shows a feature of people who have long been deprived of justice and fairness; it depicts the culpability of our legal system. Whether we choose to see it as a deliberate distraction from our leaders or indifference, it has managed to breed distrust among the citizens, because justice is being denied.
Nigeria has an illegitimate culture of dispensing ‘justice’ on ‘blundering’ individuals – jungle/mob justice.
If there was certainty that the man that stole or exterminated would be accurately disciplined according to the law irrespective of how opulent or influential he is, who he works for or who he knows high up, then the scheme of Jungle justice may not have been birthed. It is not exceptional to hear stories of hoodlums, rapists and murderers who have been set free because of the skills they adjudicate to dubious legislators and/or influential businessmen. Many circumstances additionally circle around allowing offenders to go free because they belong to a certain religious faction or ethnicity.
Subsequently, stories like this lead Nigerians to feeling sensitive or unsafe and choose to take laws into their own hands. Perhaps, if we had an operational and steadfast criminal justice system, sanity would be the order of the day – and of course valuable lives and properties would not be lost.
The legal system cannot take on the fight against jungle justice alone because countless people self-determining of the construct contribute to the insanity. This is possibly the most appalling and disturbing part of the act, that many people are really amused or entertained by it. It is why we have people around such scenes shooting videos, taking pictures and chanting praises for the mob. If we can have people around, shattering in glee as their fellow human is being dehumanized then why won’t we have people on the scene that would fervently refuse the act and even call for order? In many instances, the Nigerian police and security forces that should be maintaining law and order and of course avert the mortality of guiltless civilians support the barbaric act, either inactively or vigorously. Some actively spearhead the lunacy, while others passively stand by and do nothing.
The increasing rate of Mob Justice in Nigeria further buttresses how callous, primitive and hypocritical many of us essentially are, as most of the time, this form of ‘justice’ is meted out to minor thieves and low-slung offenders. Let’s for a second assume mob justice is the way forward, what about the corrupt politicians, government leaders and business men who have hauled away half the affluence of the motherland for their own self-centered – private use? Why is it that they do not get this brand of ‘justice’? The answer is obvious; the mob is only a missile that bullies the powerless desperate common man who has reached his breaking point.
Has murdering and/or repugnantly slaying a human being and getting away with it reduced the level of criminality in the nation? It has not and it probably never will. As a matter of fact, it only breaches human rights and diminishes an individual’s self-worth to nothing.
Jungle justice is no justice!
Nana Salaudeen is an economist and accountant with a passion for journalism and writing. She is an advocate of good governance, gender equity, and youth inclusion in politics.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.