Na thief? Make we naked am. Na kidnapper? Make we burn am. Na armed robber? Put tyre for him neck. He steal yam? Pour kerosene for him body. He jam person? Beat am then kill am.
When will Nigerians start behaving like sane human beings? Is it that the country is so dysfunctional that it has fried majority of its citizen’s brains?
If not, how do you explain the bizarre cases of mob justice we hear about every time? On Thursday, two women were caught stealing clothes at Onitsha market. They were stripped almost naked and made to walk round the market. Good for them, you might say, after all they stole, but take a minute and think about it deeply. Does it make any sense? Is it the right thing to do? Would it deter people from stealing? If you think it will, how come people are still stealing?
Sometime in May last year, an 80 year old woman was almost lynched by a crowd in Lagos. Her crime? She was suspected of being a witch. She was found wandering with torn clothes and looking very unkempt and somehow someone just decided she had to be a witch and should be lynched. Someone’s mother or even grandmother who was probably suffering from dementia or had amnesia was almost killed because irate youths passed a ‘witchcraft’ judgment on her. Educated people beat the old woman to a pulp because they asked her questions and she was speaking gibberish. Unbelievable but it happened.
Have you ever seen an altercation between the driver of a car and an okada rider? I have and I can tell you that it’s a ludicrous sight to behold. The okada rider cut in front of the car and the driver couldn’t or didn’t brake fast enough; down went the rider and his okada. The driver hurriedly got out of his car to check on the rider. The rider sat up, put his hands on his head and started wailing like a banshee. Within ten minutes, it was like okada central. I couldn’t count how many bikes turned up. Maybe fifty. It was ridiculous. They simply appeared there and started beating the driver of the vehicle. They beat him and refused to stop. I was appalled. People that witnessed the accident kept on shouting that the driver wasn’t at fault but did they listen? They kept at it, beating him until miraculously the police came. When the police came, they asked for the bike rider but he was nowhere to be found. Those mad people had beaten the poor guy for someone whose injuries were obviously not that serious for he had hopped right back on his bike and gone back to fending for his daily bread.
Why do we feel we have the right to dispense our own brand of justice on people? Beating, lynching, throwing tyres and setting them on fire, stripping people naked etc. Why can’t things be done the right way? A girl was caught stealing a phone and she was stripped naked and men were fondling her. How does that even make any sense? To correct a wrong, you do something much worse? Why? Who are you and what gives you that right?
Aluu 4 was as a result of mob justice. What sort of society is it when someone can scream “Thief! Thief! Ole!” and in seconds you are surrounded by a mob demanding your blood?
What sort of society have we become when an eleven year old boy accused of kidnapping a baby was burnt alive in public?
The weirdest case I witnessed happened when I was living in Benin. I was walking home from the market when I saw this crowd close to my house. I moved closer to see what was happening and I saw a man and woman naked, crying and kneeling on the floor with their hands up. I was shocked. I asked a lady beside me what was going on. “No mind them. Dem be yeye people. The woman na ashawo” she replied. I couldn’t understand but after asking more questions I found out that the woman was a married woman whose husband was out of the country while the man was a catholic priest. They had been having an affair and people in the area had been monitoring them and decided to punish them for adultery/fornication. I took a bike to the nearest police station and came back with two officers who had to threaten the crowd with bodily harm before they could disperse. I had never seen such a thing in my entire life. Two consenting adults were beaten, stripped and told to kneel. It felt like madness which is what it is. Mobs are mad. Mad people don’t think. They just do.
If you’ve ever found yourself in a mob dispensing justice to whomever for whatever crime, you need to ask forgiveness from whatever God you worship.
The irony is that whenever you are called on to partake in a legitimate protest, you’d be nowhere to be found. You can’t demand accountability from your leaders but you are quick to throw a tyre over the neck of a young man and set it on fire because he stole a piece of yam. Retribution for offences is not your job, responsibility or prerogative. Leave it to the police and the courts.
Be a human being. Not a barbarian.
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