Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Jungle Justice: Before We Become Victims

Jungle Justice can be seen as the extra-judicial punishment meted out on purported criminals. Such punishments are usually mob-induced and weightier than those which a legally constituted court would mete out when a suspect is found guilty after trials. Jungle justice usually results to death in the most gruesome ways. Jungle Justice shows, blatantly, how uncivilized a society is and, unfortunately, predominantly exists in black communities i.e. Africa and Afro-Caribbean.

In Nigeria, over the years, many have been killed and others molested/seriously injured over 'trivial' crime cases. Such cases include:
  •  In Owerri, sometime in 1996, a man who made a living out of stealing light bulbs from people's houses was caught and burnt.
  • In Owerri, sometime in 2004...a famished man stole slices of yam which were being prepared by a commercial cook (Mama Put). He was caught and the cook, who happens to be the wife of a Police officer, provided the fuel which her sons and other wicked elements used to burn the hapless man after severely beating him...even as he pleaded for his life.
  • In owerri, a man was caught as he tried to get away after snatching a lady's handbag opposite a bank. Despite the pleas of the bank manager and a police officer that the culprit be charged and punished according to the dictates of the law; the irate mob insisted that he be released to them and even threatened burning down the bank. Needless to say, the man was handed over to the mob...and he was burnt.
  • In 2011, a young man who was accused of having stolen some jewellery got beaten to a pulp and burnt in Lagos.
  • There have been repeated cases where ladies suspected to have stolen some petit items got stripped of all their clothing, molested and disgraced publicly.
  • Recently in Port Harcourt, 4 young men from the University of Port Harcourt were accused of stealing handsets and laptop computers; they were beaten and burnt.
    This is to mention but a few and there would be more in the near future.
Why Is This The Case?

Jungle justice can be attributed to certain factors which include:
  •  Failure in a society's security and judicial systems which urges people to take laws into their hands.
  • The frustration of the population by the government which makes people vent their piled up anger on hapless victims at the slightest provocation.
The Consequences Of Jungle Justice

These are so enormous that they should not be neglected. They include:
  •  The high chance of punishing the innocent: As is popularly said, 'it is better that a criminal escapes punishment than that an innocent man gets punished' and 'every man is innocent until proven otherwise by a competent court of law'. Jungle Justice makes very high, the chances that an individual gets punished for something he/she did not do. This is due to the fact that there is no trial and verification process...punishment is meted out instantly and this usually amounts to death.
  • Very extreme punishments for even trivial offences: the punishment usually outweighs the crime in the jungle justice system. People get killed for offences which would legally attract warnings or even fines. As earlier mentioned, people have been burnt because they stole electric bulbs and edibles from a pot on the fire. It is sheer wickedness to beat and burn a man for pilferage. Why on earth would a man beat and burn another unarmed man, who posed no threat of bodily harm, only on the grounds that he had committed something much less than a felony?
  • Desensitisation to brutality and inhumanity: as suspects are molested and killed publicly; the population - especially the kids and youth - are exposed to man's brutality towards fellow man. Jungle Justice is barbaric! It is even a sorry sight to see a man being bestial towards animals not to talk of his fellow man. Even if a man is found guilty and condemned to die, he shouldn't be subjected to periods of public beating and torture. It is counter-productive and only serves the purpose of desensitising spectators and spreading the virus of wickedness and inhumanity to fellow men. They watch with interest as it unfolds without flinching. Some even get spurred enough to add to the beating and probably feel like heroes...
  • With kids watching people get brutalised and burnt, they get infected with insensitivity towards fellow human beings and like a virus, this retrogressive culture is passed from one generation to the other and extreme affinity for violence is established.

    The whole thing bothers me Oracle! That someone who was not affected in any way by the said offence committed by a suspect could watch as the man get's beaten...and as he pleads for mercy and for his life...instead of feeling pity, this person picks up a stick and hits him continuously. A normal man would at first, out of, curiosity want to see what is going on. When he sees the extent of brutality going on and hears the cries and pleas of the brutalised, a normal man would feel pity, irritated or at worst indifferent; he then would either walk away or try to stop the inhumanity against his kind. But Nigerians would go straight-on from being curious to being brutal to someone whose offence never concerned them and whose cries for mercy is deafening!!! I wonder if after killing these chaps they simply went back to their homes, ate, drank and slept as if nothing happened...as if all they killed were pythons!! O God! Where are you?!

    Chief Priest...make sure those tears don't drop in this shrine...hold yourself!!

    I'm sorry, Great Oracle...Speak on...
On the flip side, I am aware that people may argue that jungle justice serves as a better deterrent to criminals than the legal system which is viewed as partial, slow and soft. I am also aware and can say that at times, victims of jungle justice totally deserved it...especially in cases where the criminals have taken life/lives. I cannot fault the recent killing, by students, of a gunman who attacked a tertiary institution, shot and killed innocent students. In the same vein, I wouldn't feel sorry for a Boko Haramist who gets maimed and killed by an irate mob while on a mission to kill innocent members of the public.

But, Jungle justice, being as lawless as it is, cannot be categorised so as to say ...'this is the right type of jungle justice' and 'this is the wrong type'. It is lawless and cannot be made to follow any order. We cannot say ‘this is the legal jungle justice’ and ‘this is the illegal’. So it is either we totally condemn it or totally embrace it.

My Advice
  • As long as the security and judicial systems are slow and inefficient; people would tend to take laws into their hands. These systems should step up their game and win the trust of the people. They should let the citizenry know that their security is assured and even where there are breaches, the involved culprits would be caught and punished accordingly.
  • Through public lectures and seminars, there should be sensitization of the people regarding the consequences of jungle justice and the need to rely on and follow the dictates of the law.
  • As we strive to become a civilised society, Jungle justice which reeks of barbarism should be condemned in its entirety and outlawed. Perpetrators of such acts should be seen as criminals and as murderers where life/lives are taken. They should be punished accordingly too.
  • Vigilantes are loosely operated and managed and this makes them vulnerable to getting transformed into instruments of intimidation by unscrupulous elements; therefore they should not be a law on to themselves...they should be put on some leash and closely monitored by the law. They should be made to assist the Police Force and other law enforcement agencies and not to serve as wanton executioners, without trial, of people suspected to be criminals.
Now pleading on the conscience of Nigerians and using the Allu 4 as an instance. It has not been established that these boys actually 'stole' laptops and handsets...the only glaring fact is that they were unarmed and never posed any threat to anyone.

Now imagine when they were caught...they begged and tried to explain themselves out of the situation yet they were beaten and stripped of all their clothes. They were paraded on the streets stark naked and they kept begging and voicing their innocence, yet no one listened. They were beaten with metals, sticks and stones; they cried and begged for their lives...they became too tired that they could only watch their tormentors put tires around their neck and douse them with fuel...so tired were they that they could no longer lift a limb to protest. They had lost their voices from a long period of crying and pleading...but their minds and eyes still pleaded that their lives be spared. At this point, the average human being should have felt pity....but no! They were still beaten with sticks and their skulls opened. Then came the matchstick which set them ablaze...

So I ask...do you still not feel sorry for these kids? Do you not see that they were murdered? Forget the christening of 'Jungle Justice'...it was murder!

If you were there what would you have done? Walked away, joined the madness or tried to save these hapless lives? 
Where was the Police while this was going on? Busy following the rich and affluent of society into their toilets and bathrooms?
Were they alerted but chose to brush off the incidence because these were just 4 kids out of hundreds of Nigerians who lose their lives in the most gruesome ways every week? 
Or is it that no one made a single effort to save the lives of these kids? So many questions!

On a final note Nigerians...even though you are angry with the Allu community, do not forget that it wasn't everyone in Allu that murdered Ugonna, Tekenna, Lloyd and Aladdin; do not forget that if you call for a reprisal attack on the community, innocent kids, women and men would be affected and you wouldn't then be any different from the beasts who killed those chaps. 

I call on the security forces to moves swiftly and arrest those involved so that angry Nigerians would not be forced to take laws into their hands and bring about a devastating cycle of jungle justice.

 'Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone'...'do not judge lest ye be judged'...stop the bestiality towards your fellow man! SAY NO TO JUNGLE JUSTICE, YOU MAY BE A VICTIM TOMORROW!!

The Oracle Has Spoken!!


  1. Perfectly written ... very impressive...

  2. Thanks so much bro...The Oracle is quite glad that you appreciate his messages. Stay loyal to the Shrine...

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  4. Zuruiyke Innocent28 February 2014 at 06:33

    Jungle justice must stop...Africans must learn to respect the dignity of the human person