by Kingsley Charles
A fortnight ago, a man died. With his tongue clenched between his teeth, his charred body of mangled limbs lay sprawled across the sun-baked tarmac, in a tiny pool of his blood that seeped from the crevices of his mutilated brain. His horrendous state told of a man that had been administered a lethal dose of the lynch law by a whole posse of apoplectic mob, for an alleged crime.
The man and woman in the street have had to weather a successive storm of horrors, from the jackboot of a dictatorial regime through the tidal wave of felony and banditry to the unprecedented carnage by a class of homicidal maniacs. Now is a rising crescendo of mob rule—or jungle justice, as it is termed in our clime. Now is an emergent malaise of extrajudicial killings in our landscape. An alleged thief or rapist or felon is stripped naked in the torrid heat of the day, strapped to a stake and clubbed with murderous zeal until his head shatters and spews out blood, his neck drops dead. Or, more commonly, the supposed thief is necklaced with a car tyre, doused with petrol and set alight, like a festival lamb, before a frenzied mob. And soon his entreaties of innocence are drowned by the overpowering heat of a furnace.
What we are witnessing in this present time is an injurious corrosion of civilization from our geopolitical space. It emerges that a new crop of Homo sapiens with mutated genes now parade the along the verdant greenery of our land with a flush of dacnomania. This is a class of warped minds that seeks to inflict its unvarnished turpitude on a few hapless humans. The gruesome sight of a defenseless man hacked to death by another man is just as galling as it Is absolutely heartrending. It is, in itself, a ne plus ultra of man’s inhumanity to man. The chilling remembrance of Aluu 4, who were immolated in October 2012 in the most barbarous fashion, leaps to my mind. Even if expurgated from our books of history, memories of such savagery will ever cling to the minds of those who witnessed it.
Like the plague spreading its contagion effortlessly, the monster of lynch mob extends its tentacles to more territories, unabated. Lugubriously, the majority of mob attacks go unreported so that an increasing number o f alleged criminals are subjected to the ochlocratic judgment everyday.
My increasing perturbation is having to share the same biosphere with these scions of Satan. For the thinking man, it is the irksome thought that gnaws at his soul as he ponders on his uneasy coexistence with these perverted humans. For to set a man on fire like a sacrificial lamb on the score of criminality is a flagrant disregard for the sanctity of human life. Succinctly, it is an inimical descent into mobocracy. More so, it is a patent breach of a citizen’s Right to fair Hearing engraved in the Nigerian constitution, which stipulates, in Section 34(1) (a), that ‘every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and accordingly no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman and degrading treatment’. To delve further, Section 315 of the Criminal Code maintains that ‘any person who unlawfully kills another is guilty of an offence which is called murder or manslaughter, according to the circumstances of the case’. But do these bloodhounds care? Fiddlesticks .They would instead mete out the lynch law to the alleged culprit than to have to go through them rigmarole of an adjudication system. The law is an ass; its delivery of justice is tardy and prejudiced, they contend. So they would have the supposed criminal face trial in a mob court with a stand-in judge of a traditional chief, who returns a verdict of lynching. And with the swashbuckling ferocity of a gladiator, the blood-hungry mob pummel, maim and mutilate the intruder, the Ole, until rivulets of his blood course over the asphalt. What morbid obsession!
Offering no clemency, the ochlocratic law seeks immediate ‘justice’. Hence, it confers on its practitioners the right to identify and prosecute an alleged thief, without a smidgen of investigation. Unlike the state law, its judgment is not contingent on the pedigree of the crime committed: all misdeeds are granted the same lethal dose of lynching, differing only in style. Methinks that it is premised on a fallacious belief in the nothingness of human existence. Be that as it may, it is a rule of passion over reason.
But the law enforcement agencies share culpability in these savageries. They lay the groundwork for the gladiatorial scene of mob courts. It is they who set the rabble loose and teach them to adopt the brute force as the best form of justice. It is their cavalier attitude towards the man in the street that strengthens this group of self-righteous bloodhounds. It is, also the tardiness of the nation’s judicial system that causes the quick recourse to mob lynching. But for how many months –or years—shall the man, woman or child wait before they become the victims of the next jungle justice? Of course there will be more lynching and necklacings until the poltergeists of those murdered extrajudicially are conciliated and a requiem mass is held to lay their roving souls to eternal rest.
An adjudication system that seeks not to uphold the crest of justice cannot be considered fair and just. The judiciary must ensure its system is reviewed and regenerated. State laws must seek to establish a reign of justice in our clime whilst striving to halt the rain of injustice that beclouds our landscape. A tardy judicial system proffers no justice to its humanity. Strict punitive sanctions should be meted out to the villainous men of the netherworld who take ghoulish delight in unleashing their bestiality on a hapless, defenceless humanity. The police would do much good to the citizenry than be the praetorian guards of an ignoble lot of mercenary politicians.
Kingsley Charles writes from the University of Calabar.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.