Yesterday, my attention was drawn to a video shot 7 years ago that featured the LYNCHING of a 12 year old boy accused of attempting to kidnap a boy from a school somewhere in Lagos, Nigeria.
The video was shot by Abimbola Ogunsanya but was only released recently as part of activities marking the launch of the group ”DONT WALK AWAY” to which several notable Nigerians have already signed up to, on their website- http://www.dontwalkaway.org.ng
I was terrified when I saw the video. Samuel was just a boy that the mob gave no chance at all despite all his pleas.
Growing up in Lagos, I have seen my fair share of Lynchings. It was common sight back then to see charred bodies of ‘suspected’ robbers on the streets on the way to school early in the morning, who had probably been lynched by VIGILANTE groups (not an uncommon sight in Nigeria, due to lack of confidence in the state’s security apparati, in reaction to the threats posed by men and women of the underworld)overnight.
I have not personally witnessed the burning of a suspected thief, but I’ve seen one who was forced to drink liquid CEMENT, amongst other episodes of lynching by different means. He was later led away naked through the street to an unknown destination. I was too young to understand certain things then and could not really say how that episode ended.
But we were all shocked when the video of the ALUU-4 (students of the University of Port Harcourt lynched by the Vigilante group and people of Aluu Community, while the police looked the other way) became viral online and the outrage that followed especially after it was discovered that they were actually innocent of the crime they were accused of.
The outcry from that incident led to the arrest of some of the partakers in the lynching, including the paramount head of that community who alledgedly gave the go-ahead for the lynching in the first place. Much hasn’t been heard of that case since the boys were brutally mowed down last October.
Soon after the Aluu incidence, several other lynch videos surfaced, including that of a lady molested at Alaba Market in Lagos for allegedly stealing a Blackberry phone, but none has been as compelling as this.
It appeared the people had made their minds up regardless of what 12 year old Samuel had to say. Not even the sad tale about how he came to be on the streets ‘BEGGING’ with his mother and sibling would convince his killers to think to do otherwise, they didn’t even bother to check and verify the facts, even when he told them where they could find his mother a short distance away also begging.
Mob justice has continued unabated in many parts of Nigeria, even in places where one could never have imagined. It’s almost beginning to define who we are as Nigerians. This is where the frustrations of the masses are poured on the ‘sacrificial lamb’, most times without taking thoughts to know whether this form of punishment is commensurate with the crime committed (when the victim is caught red-handed) or a travesty of justice (when the victim is actually innocent).
The truth is that the justice system has failed Nigerians woefully. The people routinely take the laws into their hands because they do not and cannot trust the police to be alive to their responsibilties.
Their rage and umbrage at the dehumanization they suffer at the hands of men of the underworld has stiffened their resolve to get their justice by their own hands, but then at what cost? In fighting monsters the people have themselves become monsters.
This is why I’m lending my voice to the actions and activities of ”Dont Walk Away”, while hoping that beyond just pledging we move on to speak against ‘Jungle Justice’, and do all we can to avert the next one as best we can.
I hope Samuel’s story touches you. Here’s the video (it may offend your sensibilities) as posted on YouTube below:
Watch “Jungle Justice-Nigeria” on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfk7KEoCzcs&feature=youtube_gdata_player