When justice becomes institutionally perverted or non-existent in any human society, justice become de-monopolized, a mere punishment, a tool that every members of such society can afford and use to settle scores. A society that has failed to accord every citizens his or her dues would have to contend with disgruntled elements at all times. This is the case regarding the gory lynching of a boy accused of stealing an unconfirmed item in Irile-Iganmu area of Lagos, initially allegedly to be a seven years old boy, but confirmed by the police to be an adult male in his early twenties. To say that this public execution of this unfortunate man is barbaric is an understatement. It is a height of wickedness that have not been attained by humans in recent times.
Any human being who watched the video of the maiming and subsequent burning of this unfortunate victim to death would be forced to ask if wickedness is ingrained in the human DNA. In fact, you wonder if these behind this lynching are human, or perhaps they are animals in human skin, you are forced to ask if they were able to sleep with their eyes closed after what they did. The convenience at which the on-looker watched seems to amazed me, it is baffling that these people watched as though they were relishing their bowl of popcorn in a cinema house, while a fellow human being was treated in such manner, worst till, we could hear the voices of some clamoring for more intense hitting of the hapless victim, a goat would definitely not be treated in such manner for stealing a pot of soup, not to talk of a man would who purportedly stole garri (a Nigeria staple food). One wonder how these monsters in human skin would fell if they were in the shoes of this jungle justice victim or in the shoes of any of his family members.
Well, the sinner that was stoned to death was accused of committing a crime, a crime that obviously does not warrant such treatment. Just like the adulterous woman, who was accused and brought to Jesus in the bible, I am certain that those accusing and clamouring for punishment and all those who were involved in the execution has done far worse than the accused has. Obviously, a normal human being, with a purpose and a future would never lift his hand to stone another human being to death. There is no gainsaying that those involved are people whose futures are as void as blank sheets. They are the no-do-well in the society, people without set goals, neither do they have specific jobs. They are mostly the Agbero at every bus stop, people who do not know where the next meal will come from. Their lives are so meaningless that they have nothing to live for, but they have a lot to die for. They don’t mind instigating trouble, as long as such trouble would yield financial gains for them.
This situation is a case of wickedness become flash, it is as though an evil spirit adopted the minds of these pawns of jungle justice-They were either high on drugs or possessed. Those who watched while all this was done affirms to us that evil can actually infest a human mind. Their inaction is a pointer to the fact that wickedness and evil strive when we decide to keep quiet or tolerant it. The audacity of those who recorded this gory event points to the fact that good intentions are not good enough; those recording might have it in mind that their action would project this devilish action to the world, but the adverse effects of their action is even more enormous. Since these recordings could not stop this unfortunate human from being lynched at that point in time, their obviously good intention was of no use, their action was obviously counterproductive. Although their action has aided a subconscious campaign against jungle justice, it also magnified the reality of wickedness and evil in the world.
To state that Nigerians are wicked and hypocritical is not derogatory in at all. Nigeria has an unbridled evil tendency – this is a national fact. It is easy to aggrieved members of the society to transfer their aggressions on people of low status. If this particular jungle Justice victim had committed any crime at all, his crimes cannot be compared to political office holder and public officer, who, apart from betraying the trust of those who had given them the mandate to serve, also siphon public funds meant to provide basic amenities for the people. These public thieves live free like kings, they are untouchable, those, who are protected by the justice system; they have more rights that the average Nigerian citizen, in fact, they are protected by the security agencies. Still, these criminals are not treated like all jungle justice victims. Yet, They are celebrated and defended by those they steal from.
Institutional failure has always been the first reason why a suspected criminal is left to face the juries on the street. Nigerians are quick to blame the scourge of corruption in the criminal justice system as the reason for the display of madness by the culprit of jungle justice. The police are known to be easily compromised. There are numerous stories of how the police let loose criminals who should be rotting in jail for their crimes, but because they are able to sort themselves out with bribes, they are let off the net. This frustration has caused the average Nigerian to lose faith in the justice system, thereby, forcing them to taking the laws into their own hand. While this reason is valid, it is important to note that nobody deserves to die this way, no matter his or her offence, however, if we intend to adopt this system of punishment, it should be meted out across the board, not based on the status of the suspect involved.
This gruesome killing in broad daylight has brought back to mind the ALUU killing of four undergraduates, and has brought to bare the reality that jungle justice or mob justice in Nigeria is still striving and that a lot still needed to be done to ensure that the sanity of every human life is protected. No human being deserve to be treated in such manner. Apart from we condemning this action, a lot of effort must be geared into motion to educate people around us, especially people who do not have be privileged to be educated, these folks are the one usually caught in the web of jungle justice- they are usually the victims and the culprits of jungle justice.
First published on NAIJ.COM