Jungle Justice: A Thief’s Nightmare
“Bruisings, kickings, chantings, rantings, yellings and Blood gushing from different parts of the body. From afar judgement is pronounced. No saviour, no mercy. They were burnt, they were wasted. They felt pained, they were tortured, they felt tormented. They sought to flee, they sought to hide, they plead for mercy, everything became their nightmares. One said I am not guilty, another said I am innocent. What have you done to the futures untold?”.
Some trials in court can take years in Nigeria, resulting to some group of people taking laws into their hands thereby uniting forces against the criminals, terrorist, and other felons to bring justice to seat on the streets, right before the police comes to the rescue of a suspect.
Jungle justice is when a crowd or vigilante group humiliate, beat, punish or summarily execute criminals in front of people. In some case, the victims are made to stay in mud for hours, other cases, it could be a simple beating or hanging.
Jungle justice has laid its hold in Nigeria history, although not certain when it all began but, the act became popular with the creation of an armed group, named Bakassi Boys in 1999 on the basis of several ethnic associations of the Igbo people. The purpose was to confront gangster groups because of the slow response of the police in arresting such situations in the state. To achieve the purpose for their setup, the Bakassi Boys would inflict various degrees of pains such as severing of limbs and other forms of torture to ‘their’ convicted criminals to serve as deterrents to others. Records show that the group managed to reduce significantly the level of crime in Abia State.
Constitutionally, the safety of lives and property should be safeguarded by the government. The reason for this dysfunctional, corrupt judiciary system and also law enforcement agencies in Nigeria is that most government units and officials have lost all credibility.
However, irrespective of whatever logic that is behind jungle justice, it is a vicious act of disregarding the rule of law and taking laws into one’s hands. Two wrongs don’t make a right. At least every criminal in the law court is considered innocent until proven guilty. It is an outright violation of human right. It is a dangerous act with the prospect of turning a society into an animal kingdom. It is the height of lawlessness portraying Africans as barbarians.
Despite all these thoughts against jungle justice, we accept the utmost desire of the citizenry wanting to get some kind of protection and safety against these thieves. If we had a reliable criminal justice, life’s and property will not be lost.
Some instances where the criminals are guilty, they are been set free because of the services they render to some dubious politicians who must have there way either by hook or crook. In other cases, the criminals are innocent only to find out after the act of lynching has been committed just as the Aluu 4 lynching where some students of the University of Port Harcourt were lynched in 2012 after they were alleged of theft in Aluu, a community in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
The amazing part of such barbaric act is that people, seem to be entertained by it, that leaves one often wonder if we can have people around such scenes, taking pictures and videos.
People don’t trust the current system of order and justice. And we can’t say, that we don’t understand this position. But on the other, we all have to understand, that arbitrariness and lynching are taking our country backwards.
Jungle justice is a menace that the general public needs to be sensitized on in the society. How many of those who loot public fund on daily basis become victims of jungle justice?. The tragedy of mob justice is that most times it is always melted on petty thieves.
As bad as anyone will be, I’m sure if they know better and had other opportunities, they won’t resort to things that will have them being killed in public. Everyone deserves to be heard, in fact, we all have a right to fair hearing, it is a principle of natural justice. It is not justice since it does not guarantee fairness to anyone.
Justice in Nigeria seems to have lost its voice. This is why jungle justice prevails. We hope that the Nigerian government will see this as a challenge and quickly do the needful and redeem the image of these important institutions they represent on the problem to prevent the episodes of jungle justice.
The National Assembly should endeavour to pass a bill against jungle justice and the judiciary should be reformed in such a way that both civil and criminal offenders will face a fair trial accordingly to avoid self-execution of justice.
Written by Tina Walson