The absence of euphemisms in the Topic of this writing should already lay paint the broad brush to a discerning mind the most probable path this work intends to tread. Mob action is commonplace in our contemporary society and frighteningly so, a preen into the World Wide Web will confirm the fact. Indeed it has been a common feature in our social reality for some time now and many, especially from the class of the formally schooled, expects its presence would have whittled down as it has been several decades perhaps more than a century since western civilization creeped into Nigeria.

One question that comes to mind when looking at the concept of mob action is, why it is so unsavoury? Why is it seen as a plague which the society needs to be saved from? After all, only the morally opprobrious, prima facie, are the recipient of mob lynching. Well the answer is not exactly far fetched, a look at online media outlets even on newspapers, the sight of the gruesome beating and eventual killing by whatever means is a real turn off for violence sensitive viewers and of more concern is the reason for this less than humane act, most dominant is the accusation of stealing and that not of millions of dollars or naira but of petty things such as meagre naira notes and the things these notes are just enough to buy. This however isn’t the only reason posed. Occasionally accusation of witchcraft, rape, paedophilic activities, cultism and other violence related accusations come up. 

Thusly, what sort of act justifies the killing of another man without recourse to the law to whom we have all surrendered our right? Upon this quiz will I throw forth my answers that the concerned populace may have a chance to cuddle or stumble. Indeed, in honour of social contract like many espouse, no man should take the law into his hand and try to exercise right which he has already surrendered to the state. The right to punish for crime is the states and when one is committed the state should be allowed to do what they do. Attractive and astute as this reasoning is, it must be said that this system works best in the more civilized western world whence from it came – where law is swift in its response, when called to action where justice has a great track record of being done, where facilities required to aid the reaction of the law in cases where its response is needed right away are present. The police in the united states one 911 call away – in France dial 112 and sirens will be blaring in no distant time and 999 in the UK is the emergency number, little should be said of the CCTV cameras and street traffic cameras all over the city as their essence is obvious. In one terse sentence ‘THE SYSTEM WORKS’. Mob action is rarely seen in such system because it is constantly been choked by the stranglehold of a working system given no room to rear its ugly head the law and justice system does it job and efficiently so. In the light of these, it is palpable that the circumstances are different hence the attitude of the masses in Nigeria towards mob action cannot be the same as that of the western Nations. 

Mob action is a resultant quantity, just like in Colorimety we know that the mixture of yellow and blue is green, green is a resultant of that mixture such is mob action; masses surrendering their right to a justice system and the justice system doing an appalling Job to say the least results in mob action. Indeed there are many who believe that the enthusiasm of a person to join a mob and strike down the morally reprehensible is born out of uncivilization, ignorance, lack of education and the like, this belief would hardly be true as even in tertiary institution collective lynching of a suspect is pervasive. A boy steps into hall 2 (a female hostel) in an ungodly hour and attempts stealing or engages in a pervy act, he will not make it to the next morning if every porter decides to abandon their duty that night, this is a tertiary institution. In hall 4 the same is true for a thief — this tendency isn’t a function of illiteracy as have been stressed earlier but lack of confidence in the fact that our justice system can handle the situation, terminate it justly and with a verdict that will seriously deter others. A lot of time, offenders left to the law are let off with a slap on the wrist and the acts continue little wonder there are only 19 conviction of rape cases since the determination of our justice system.

The question has arisen whether there is anytime mob action is justified. Many are quick to shout ‘NO’ in disgust. When the Libyan rebels got hold of their former tormentor, Muammar Gaddafi face to face only few would have suggested justice be left to the international criminal court. Sometimes, mob actions have been the tool society used to rid themselves of a tyrannic oppressor after incessant outcry to the law has been met with quietude, the story Oke in Ughelli, Delta State, comes to mind. Indeed if the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, is killed by mob action, only few will raise eyebrows.

I aver, that instead of writing upon writing committed to condemning and urging the discontinuance of mob action, a vast percentage of those wrings should be channelled at urging the government towards reforms of the Justice system to meet with the needs of our social reality; the source of mob action is the inefficiency of the Justice system and once that problem is put to bed like a pack of domino cars, mob action will fall in line.

However, it would be completely insensitive to turn a blind eye to the collateral damage mob action brings even though in the mind of many the victims are indeed offenders. It is also true that innocents have been falsely accused and hence lynched by the mob — even the guilty have been recompensed beyond just measures. Acknowledgment of this truth is what drives the suggestion that those who are fortunate or unfortunate to be part of a lynching mob should act with reasonable acknowledgment that technically it is not their place to punish an offender and the law still has an interest in doing so. But it will be impossible if the accused offender is dead. Each individual has a reasonable sense of due justice, hence individuals seeing the mob going amock in its lynching, should take active steps to curtailing the act in order to save the life of the offender. These steps are best taken in concert with person with similar mind within or without the mob (video evidence shows not everyone is active or cheering during the act, these are one best shot of people with reasonable sympathetic mind) as actions taken alone in such situations could easily turn a person from saviour to hunted, if a fair number in the mob are willing to act we would find more victims saved than dead.

Charlie Rhonda avers

Advertisements