A friend wrote an article which got me thinking about the Badoo case in Ikorodu and generally on the issue of jungle justice in Nigeria. Personally, I use to think the ‘victim’ deserved it, now, the mere idea of jungle justice infuriates me. I think jungle justice is no justice at all, no matter how deserving it may seem. I will post the article below for you guys to read and let us discuss. I will also love to know your thoughts on the issue of jungle justice and let us know if you have had any personal experience (like the writer) or witnessed any situation. Enjoy
‘With rod and lash he is punished, stabbed and beaten with all manner of objects, to the delight of the angry mob. He cries in excruciating pain and anguish, with blood profusely gushing out from the entirety of his body he begs for his life, having suffered an unimaginable beating at the hand of the angry mob. Moments later, he is engulfed in flames amid cries for mercy as life is snuffed out of him. The mob departs happy, jubilant and satisfied’
The above narrative is the typical scenario of when jungle justice is being executed. I became the chief supporter and agitator of jungle justice. It was my crusade. I spread the word of hate and jungle justice to all found wanting. And guess why? Something was stolen from me. Back in 2010, I so desired a new phone and been an undergraduate with a certain sum of pocket money pulling it off was going to be a herculean task, and yes it was. After depriving my self of so much I finally saved enough to buy my beloved phone. Exactly seven days after, still crystal clear! A Friday night, after playing with my dear phone, I slept off, but then as the holy writ rightly said, while the man was asleep the enemy came and sow thorns in his field. That night my phone was stolen via the window while I was fast asleep. The pilferer must have said ‘see as the mumu open mouth ooo’.
It was painfully gut wrenching! Just 7 days. There was so much hate in me. I was always happy whenever I read about the mob judgement on any alleged pilferer, it brought me solace. But then it was soon to change. As a Manchester United fan I was on my way to the viewing centre to watch Utd play, not far off the viewing centre I saw a crowd and in it was Kabiru my neighbour and another boy, they were on the verge of fighting and yes in no time they were in the act. I rushed to separate them and my people na the last thing wey I remember o. I was beaten by the mob amidst shouts of ‘ole ole ole’ which means thief, it was just God that helped me escape. I got to my room. With the help of my neighbours I nursed my wounds and while I was at it I thought, what would have happened if I was not able to escape? Am sure the news of my death would be ‘angry mob kills suspected pilferer’ there and then I caught an epiphany. Jungle justice is never the way, as many innocent souls have been sent to Elysium untimely and in the most brutal fashion. It was God talking to me, and then came the confirmation in 2012, the sad end of four promising young men, the Allu 4 as we have come to know it, they didn’t live to tell their story. My mantra changed from killing the alleged pilferer once he is caught to we have a justice system report the alleged criminal and leave it to them.
Just like me some years ago, the people of Ikorodu of Lagos State have sworn vengeance and death, vendetta!!! Just like me. While they enjoyed their lives quietly, the Badoo gang came, stole, destroyed and killed their loved ones. They lost their joy, safety and happiness, in perpetual trepidation they lived, a pregnant woman was killed and her foetus removed, a 60-year-old woman was raped, her 10-year-old daughter was blinded, also a Celestial Church of Christ was attacked while a vigil was ongoing, an eight-year-old girl was abducted and the pastor’s head was busted open with mortar. The list goes on and on. Frustrated the once peaceful people of Ikorodu have taken laws into their hands and are on a lynching spree of anyone who looks or comes across to them as a member of the dreaded badoo gang. In that category was the unfortunate Chinedu Paul, a Nigerian MC and a Lapotech student who on the 1st of July 2017 was burnt alive after being mistaken as a Badoo member, he is gone and can’t tell his story. As in many cases like his, the mob rarely listens, no one cares all they want is see you burn. Should you be innocent, it will be a case of we are sorry and at most times no one is held culpable for these actions.
Some of you will say ‘I support jungle justice and I have my reasons’ oh yes your so-called reasons abound as to why citizens should resort to seeking justice by themselves, some say ‘justice takes long and this is Nigeria, after a few months you would see the same criminals walking scot-free’, others retort!!! ‘The police are corrupt’, my Igbo friend will say ‘nna the wheel of justice, odi very slow’ and some, ‘oh I see you have not been robbed before. If yes, you would feel no remorse and give us your blessings’.
But no matter how just or right your reasons may seem or how convincing they are to you. Jungle justice is no justice. I learnt the hard way, I was lucky enough to live and tell my story. Let the law take its course, we have institutions saddled with the responsibility of arresting, investigating, trying and sentencing alleged criminals. That is why we have the law and if we take the law into our hands and go breaking same, we are no better than savages.
Written by Kimi Onana, a lawyer.