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Nigeria must not tolerate mob justice

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By Timothy Akintola

Consistent jungle justice has shown Nigeria’s rapid fall into anarchy.

There has been a widespread of jungle justice in Nigeria and whilst this growing epidemic has been severely frowned upon, the recurring trend indicates that the country is tethering itself to be a lawless country. A recently perpetrated mob justice action on a final-year student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has further indicated Nigeria’s rapid fall into anarchy. All across the country, there have been continuous reports of citizens pouncing on other citizens for alleged crimes, without any respect for legal processes. It is thus important that these mob actions must be checked and perpetrators punished accordingly, for deterrence to mob justice.

According to sociologists, mob Justice has to do with publicly humiliating or brutalizing victims on the basis of unproved allegations. This has also been regarded as jungle justice, instant justice or public lynching and Britannica describes this act as a violence form perpetrated by a mob, under the pretext of administering justice without any form of trial by executing the alleged criminals after the infliction of corporal mutilations. This action has thus been condemned as a gross violation of human rights, as victims are being denied the right to legal defense and life and Nigeria, for such a long time, have continually tolerated this barbarism.

Independent panel encouraged to investigate the mob incident in OAU.

Despite the OAU case being commonplace, what is worrisome is the fact that this incident took place in one of Nigeria’s foremost academic citadels. According to reports, the victim, Ahize Okoli, was brutalized by a mob at the university’s Awolowo Hall of Residence, after being alleged to have stolen a phone. As a result, his health deteriorated and had to be moved to the OAU Teaching Hospital, where he was declared dead. Another promising life filled with immense aspirations, cut short by compatriots who turned themselves into judges, accusers and executioners outside the premises of the legal system. Worse is, investigations might exonerate him, making his demise a double tragedy.

However, concerned citizens have urged for an independent panel, including the school authorities, student leaders, alumnus and other stakeholders to further investigate this matter and bring the perpetrators to justice. The police has also been called to find these perpetrators and make everyone of them account for their misdeed. In fact, the country has again come under immense criticisms for importing uncivilized conducts, rather than positively impact the general populace toward curbing this bestial behaviorism. To show how much this perpetration has flourished in Nigeria, reports show that between 2019 and 2021, about 391 victims have been killed by mobs across the country. Sadly, whilst the victims’ family endure this tragedy, the perpetrators walk free.

High court in 2017, found perpetrators of the Aluu Four murders guilty.

In the early period of this month, a certain Temitope Olorunfemi was reportedly stoned to death, after allegedly killing two people and injuring several people along the Ijoka road of Akure, Ondo State. The mob were said to have accused him of being a fraudster and ritualist. Thus, killing him and setting his car on fire. Since, the victim’s mother and his wife have been seeking justice for this horrific occurrence. The mother, Mojisola, noted that upon hearing this news, she and the victim’s sibling rushed to the scene only to see her son in a pool of blood and whilst still trying to save him, the mob hit him with continually with a plank.

Also in October 2012, there was the killing of four undergraduates by a mob in Omuokiri Aluu, Ikwerre Local Government, Rivers State. They were popularly regarded as the Aluu Four and included Chidiaka Biringa, Kelechi Ugonna, Lloyd Toku and Tekena Erikena. These victims were regarded as thieves and humiliated, lynched by members of the community due to the alleged theft of a laptop and Blackberry phone. Later on in 2017, a High Court in the state found three of the perpetrators guilty of their murders. This is one of the few instances where justice has been served to perpetrators of mob justice.

Mob justice thrives in areas where governance is weak, corrupt.

Research have shown that jungle justice thrives mostly in areas where governance is weak and corrupt and where the  justice system is compromised. Another study links this to poverty and crime prevalence, where individuals carry out their frustrations in suspects. Effective policing across all localities have been tipped to curb this problem. Also, the Osun state police and Ondo government have been urged to carry out investigation and punish the perpetrators, so as to dissuade others from indulging in this crime against humanity.

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