Eyes have not seen nor ears have heard of some of the barbaric acts human commits against each other. I have once been opportuned to live in a neighborhood where crime was at his peak; where security personnel raid every now and then for criminals; and where the sight of people being stripped naked, beaten, and sometimes burnt alive wasn’t so much of a news.
When four University of Portharcourt students (Aluu4) were stripped naked, beaten, and burnt to death for allegedly stealing mobile phones on October 5th of 2012, some people were surprised such barbaric act happened in the country and thought such act is a new development. I wonder if there was ever a time jungle justice wasn’t part of our system as I have encountered such acts on several occasions and only God knows since when it all started.
The first act of jungle justice I witnessed was back in my primary school days. It happened close to Otto overhead bridge along Oyingbo/Iddo road; a man was burnt to death for allegedly stealing. There were other occasions when the deed has already been done and I only get to see remnants of a burning body while passing by. Looking back to my primary school days and still seeing the spate of jungle justice in recent time, it only takes a lawless state and lack of good governance for such act to continue without being put under check.
The insecurity in the country has made beasts out of so many as people guiltlessly takes revenge and kill their fellow men as a form of defence against attacks and to put fear in the minds of others with plans of attacks on their fellow men in the form of stealing, cultism, kidnapping, ritualism, witchcrafts, insurgency etc. The lawless state of the country has also made many to embrace instant and street justice without giving the captured the chance to clarify their identity. It is so sad and unfortunate that not only the ‘guilty’ get caught in such web, some innocent people have also been killed in such act. Some ‘wicked souls’ also use jungle justice as a channel to settle their scores with fellow man and rub them in as being guilty of a crime they never committed and thereby getting killed like other victims of jungle justice on the street.
How did we get to this point? The act of jungle justice has hampered so many from being their brother’s keeper and also from lending a helping hand on the street as no one wants to get lynched from helping a stranger and being mistaken for a kidnapper or a ritualist.
Most people have lost faith in the government and the judiciary system as the government celebrates impunity while the judiciary system has been infiltrated with corruption. Security personnel have also failed their responsibility to protect the citizens. Citizens thereby become the judge, jury, and the executioner without giving their victims the chance of presenting their case in the court to be found guilty or not; and therefore dehumanised their fellow men.
So much work has to be done by government to restore the citizens’ hope in them by repositioning the judiciary system and flushing out corrupt practices that makes injustice thrives; tackle insecurity in the country and prioritises the security of lives over power, reform the security force, while as citizens we also have to do our part by allowing the law to have its way so that we don’t one day also become the hunted.