I have never been this grief-stricken until now; it has been difficult getting this eye sore off my mind probably because it is still fresh news or just one evil act swimming in extremity. While the citizens of Nigeria struggle to be alive in this seeming dead economy; savage inclination smoothly crept into frustrated uncivilized Nigerians in a whole new dimension. On the 15th day of this month (nov 2016), there was an ugly incidence in Badagry, Lagos. A boy, allegedly seven years, had his neck accommodating a big black tire, and alarmingly burnt to death by an angry mob simply because he was on the verge of stealing garri. Some reports go to stress that the small boy had killed someone before and had this stealing appetite as a habit – well that we must know, these are just talks tapped from opinion polls, not one rooted in any law report. What do we call the act of the mob if not jungle justice? What if he had killed someone before? What good did the act do to Nigerians? What is indeed the problem?
Many persons have a wrong digestion of what is meant by JUNGLE JUSTICE. That we have a clear picture, jungle justice is the concept and act of disregarding the rule of law and taking matters into one’s hands; to put unequivocally, it is the act of handling suspected criminals over to the hands and mercy of an angry mob. Mob justice is indeed no new thing as it has been a thing since mammoth; it had close ties with uncivilization as it was mainly practised in lawless societies – It should never be subject to moot that mob justice of old was primitive, savage, bloody, with brute, and indeed jungle; interesting wisecrack evinces the practice of the old tradition in the 21st century. You think the intent of the legal drafters was to encourage mob justice? Of course you do not. Or do you think it was not an outcry of the citizens that led to the progeny of democracy? You know you should not. The lynching of the young boy is never and can never be justice; my stand will flow from the realms of public international law, relevant statutory provisions, the ultimate truth (bible), moral precepts, and even common sense. Shall we?
The lynching of the small boy caught the attention of many beings most likely because IT WAS JUST A KID. Interacting with colleagues and acquaintances, showed that people would not cry foul if it was an adult. If a group of persons can inflict pains on their kind to the point of death, and surprisingly get applauds nationwide, it could in terms be concurred with an activist that Nigerians are barbarians — preferably is that there is lack of respect or dignity of humans. If we were yet subject to the Mosaic laws, there would have been justification for the mob’s action but truth be told, one of the things we CIVILIZED CITIZENS left in the hands of the government is DOING JUSTICE. It therefore suggests that mere citizens under a civilized territory should never take laws into their hands. This was not the case four days ago; this was a clear violation of s.34(1)(a)CFRN 1999 which clearly preaches that “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly no person shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment…” The law is criticized of trying to be a perfectionist, it is even wished that subscribers to such idea assists in relating that to the issue on ground. It is true that the law cannot possibly envisage all torts as new kinds spring up like daily bread, but should we not embrace the law for fostering utilitarianism? The doctrine of fair hearing as enshrined in s.36 of the Nigerian Constitution is one healthy proviso that separates the jungle from humanity. We clamor for mob justice but have failed to ask ourselves one question: WHAT IF IT WAS ME? Many lives have gone six feet for crimes they wished, upon endless stoning, they actually committed so that they feel they died for a wrong. We probably still hold firmly that mob justice could really be of a good idea, we probably forgot the mob JUSTICE in Aluu community, Port-Harcourt on the 5th of October, 2012. To give a quick highlight, four years ago saw the memorable injustice of barbaric Nigerians who beat four boys accused by a lying lip of stealing gadgets plus another mendacious remark that they were cultists. What did the mob do? They beat these boys to the point of disfigurement, got them in their state of Adam, had satisfied video coverage, and had them burnt. It may just get you interested and bitter to know that those boys were innocent — jungle justice clearly does not give one an avenue to explain himself (fair hearing), it acts instinctively as beasts in the jungle, it is for the nut cracker man and not sapiens. How would we feel if we had an angry mob accuse us of a crime we did not commit and have tires and petrol for our execution? Maybe we would call jungle justice unjust. It is upon this cruelty and barbaric inclination that s.36(5)CFRN 1999 posits that: “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty”. It therefore means that the law is keen on putting the culprits behind bars after a proof beyond reasonable doubt, not in putting innocent persons in gaol or a death sentence as worshipped by disciples of mob justice. S.8(3) of the Administration of Justice Act is somewhat similar but did well to mention that all matters of the kind in question be brought before a court of law. It is only so because the court is the place justice resides, because the court is the place you do not get deprived of humane treatment and fair hearing. The mob can not act in a legal capacity as it faults the three ingredients of equitable foundation i.e. natural justice, equity, and good conscience.
Biblically, jungle justice is a hireling or stranger to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Authorities were to be respected as we were urged to give to Ceaser what belonged to him. A government expects that we violate not inviolate principles as emphatically emblazoned in Chapter 4 of the CFRN 1999. Exodus 20vs15 says that “You shall not steal”, hence the 7 yr old boy ought to have been subjected to the retributory peremptory crude decision by the mob; but did the bible not stress that “You shall not kill” in the 13th verse? The bible says we should not soil our hands but does not include persons in authority from enforcing justice. A follow up of Exodus 23vs2 stresses that “You shall not follow a multitude to do evil…” Is it possible that the mad mob traced their savagery to Exodus 21vs22-26 which goes all out to foster and in fact encourage retribution or mob justice? Well the Scriptures is not misleading as upon the reign of Christ in the New Testament, Jesus Christ showed once more why He is the concierge of the World’s conscience when a mob was set to flourish great and remorseless rocks on the adulterer’s head in accordance with the Mosaic law. But Jesus carved on the ground different transgressions on the terra and asked the mob to cast the first stone if they had committed not a single of the transgressions — hence the birth of Grace. So what is the point? Since all moral codes have its progeny from the womb of the bible and the bible is against mob justice, I haven’t the foggiest idea why persons will still choose to give a middle-of-the-road response to the lynching of the 7 yr old or any one actually. If they are not submitting the relevancy of the ugly head of mob justice, of which they cannot biblically or in empathy, then what are they murmuring really? That it is included, many civilized Nations have done away with retribution because it is inhumane.
Mob justice is, under public international law, unlawful. It has attained jus cogens that no country be seen or heard to have tortured a human being in a manner inconsistent with international standards — thankfully, with no exemption of the police men. In Nigeria, s.214(1)CFRN 1999 recognizes the police force and verily the parliament enacted statutes such as the police act to prescribe all codes and conducts of the men in uniform. But agreeably, our poor policing and whack appalling judicial process plagued with unfortunate bureaucracy, has led to the clamour for jungle boy’s way. In no way is the latter just on this ground anyways, because two wrongs do not and can never make a right save the movie thrillers. The frustration is too much, the hunger is alarming, and high level of impoverishes have not stopped giving the suffering proles heads in their sacral but fainting cockles; maybe the regression of Nigeria is enough to leave a mob angry but when regression further regresses into decay, savagery is only most feasible. The police have in divers cases parked their cars close to a mob scene and by implication, supervised the killing of SUSPECTS — in other times, the mob cheers a police officer as he leaves the peremptory punture right at the suspects spinal cord…a worthy, moral, or legal comeuppance right? There was a time when the killing of SUSPECTS were killed by vigilantes — I am not against the existence of vigilante groups or them killing when it is a matter of life and death for as Emmanuel Ojukwu(Police Spokesman in Nigeria), once said, “The vigilante pre-date the police, and they compliment our efforts. The police can’t get into every nook and cranny”. But what must be retracted is the police force saying that the vigilante can go ahead to shoot dead suspects they caught; the British government’s Department for International Development (DfID) came to the aid by educating the vigilante groups about the law and human rights that the execution of suspects become old and forgotten tale — how far this organization has impacted is still in doubt. That we drop raised brows and contrary ideologies, let us agree that the police also encouraged the fuel of this mob comeuppance by overt rendering of dastard blows on suspects anywhere, anytime. Same acts traceable to the jungle was evinced in prisons. The question is, DID THIS TORTURING STOP UPON THE ENTRANCE OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE ACT 2015? No is just the obvious answer. S. 8(1) of the Act is bearing similar wordings with s.34(1)(a)CFRN 1999, it contains the absence of torture or inhumane treatment of human beings. But due to the violation of the clear cut provision of the ACT, the ignorant plenty and excited mob unconsciously imbibe, as a cultural heritage or normalcy, the spirit of brute. Even, there are many instances where our judicial arm perverts justice for pecuniary rewards; there are uncountable occasions where the accused walks home due to dearth of evidence or the court’s technicalities…not forgetting the snail like procedure. Indeed corruption has eaten us deep but for sake of relevancy and subject matter, it is best not to hatch the debate as to whether we were ready for independence. It is not short of an axiom that the bottlenecks behind the opprobrious birth of mob justice hits a legion. We live in a country where the journalists report news that will enrich their wallets and make them successful publicity hounds rather than serving as custodian of conscience of the nation as penned in s.22 of CFRN1999.
That this be chipped in, it has never been recorded in mob scenes that a rich gilb talker who plunders the wealth of you and I gets the mob treatment. So what we have is human-burning due to stealing of maggi, toothpaste, and worse still, GARRI — proles killing proles. The mob justice are carried out by poor and frustrated HUMANS who are in haste to leave an endnote in the life of a suspect; it means that they consider themselves clean, monks, and haters of evil. Now I ask you, are they not hypocrites? Mob justice is injustice, and it only passes savage letters in cold blooded envelopes to the little child that witnesses inhumane disregard for human life. Commonsense is fast leaving this part of the world but to those that have or can pretend to have wits, then let us sleep on one thought which is whether mob justice is worth legalising.
I will conclude with a succinct address to His Excellency, Pr. Muhammadu Buhari. The fight against corruption has not been insignificant and this is more reason why your administration is promising. As regards mob justice, I opine that a thorough follow up on the police force be seen to be done so as to reduce this inhumane proclivities. Another is for a crucial formal rendezvous with the National Judicial Council on workable ways to effect rapid and improved judicial processes. I opine that more probes be meted out on the wealthy few for sake of purity and reduction of corruption. Even, I urge a fulfilment of the month long promise of job provision as that will augur well in reducing frustration that is all over the green grass of Nigeria — lack brings out the savage chatacters of any man irrespective of race. This is probably cheap talk, but I am a legal watchman and I won’t stop talking until the triumphant entry of a difference.