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What next Nigeria ?

By Debbie Olujobi

Any man is  every man, we are all one and the same, cut from the same cloth ; capable of great good  and great evil. Inside every saint is a sinner, time and circumstance determine what the world sees. Violence is very repulsive to me; I particularly hate the sight of blood but even I am prone to unleashing that same force I find repulsive on someone when the right triggers are pressed.

I never envisaged ever using a gun on anyone till robbers came visiting my childhood home. I remember kneeling before this man who was pushing my head back with a gun and wishing he would drop the gun; I would have used it without a second thought.

Fear, hate combined with rage would have made me a killer just like the man holding the gun. Lately the world has been privy to a new low in human relations and it happened right here. Four young men were beaten, stripped before being burnt alive and this collective Nigerian show of shame was recorded and went viral on the internet for the world to see.

There is a general consensus of disapproval and general revulsion at this particular gruesome massacre. Frankly, I lacked the guts to go online and view it but my imagination has not spared me some awful visions. I cannot bear to think of the last few hours of those lives; the panic, fear, the pain and eventual acceptance that they had been summarily sentenced to die is unthinkable.

University of Port Harcourt students brutally beaten and burnt alive

It is a tragedy on many levels and as a parent I feel it is worst for the parents. A lot of people apparently cried when they watched the said post but I don’t even want to imagine what the parents must be going through. Losing a child is bad enough but knowing that child was stripped, paraded naked, tortured, mutilated and burnt alive is a pain that is gruesome, painful, heartbreaking and life shattering.

For the sake of the parents; there must be retribution; it must be swift and fitting. There is and can never be an acceptable justification for the gruesome murders of the boys that will now go down in History as the “Uniport 4” (students at the university of Portharcourt).

There have been many condemnations in the press worldwide; and while the revulsions and indignation is general, I am reminded of a quotation by Jesus “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”.

Lynching and mob justice is not new in Nigeria; if truth be told it has become a part of the culture. I have lost count of the number of lynchings I have witnessed and most times the mob is so violent they will kill anyone who intervenes. I can’t exactly say when it became acceptable to beat and mutilate another person before setting them on fire but I am in my forties now and this has been going on before I turned 10.

We presumably have a legal system and a constitution in place but as common as this mob justice is, no law has been promulgated to stop it or perhaps even a decree to deter and punish those who have appointed themselves judges and executioners. So why the outcry in this instance when so many people have been burnt alive for decades?

There is an element of collective shame attached to this case that leaves us all feeling raw! All of a sudden the Aluu community has become a pariah derided for being barbaric!! Why? If Aluu community is barbaric then so is every single Nigerian community. Once again I quote Jesus “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil?

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” I don’t have the accurate statistics but lynching and mob justice is a daily occurrence and prevalent everywhere in Nigeria. Those of us who haven’t taken part have witnessed it and done  nothing.

The ministers, governors and everyone condemning it now have all witnessed it; we all have. They did nothing to stop it over decades so why jump on a platform to condemn what they all condoned? Some people blame it on the failure of the Police in guaranteeing the protection and sanctity of life and property but where does it end and how can innocence be verified before death is pronounced?

So my question to us all is “what next?” I still haven’t heard any official proclamation or decree forever banning the act of lynching and burning people! The Nigerian Bar Association has condemned the act but shouldn’t they be fighting for a complete stop to the act backed if possible by a decree or even amendment in the Constitution banning any act of mob rule and mob justice? Fingering and putting the ring leaders on trial and punishing them to deter others is imperative. I am not a lawyer so I may not understand the workings of the legal profession but something has got to give.

Vigilanteism is not an alternative to an ineffective law enforcement agency. Those who have the power to stop it and don’t are as guilty as those who put the tyres around the necks of Ugonna, Tekena, Lloyd and Chidiaka; the four boys cut down by the fiery flames of the raging mob.


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