He was naked, leading a crowd of about fifty people, in the middle of the main road on which they caused a burgeoning traffic congestion on a bright afternoon. This unforgiving mob was cheering and chanting so loudly at the nude figure until I could barely hear the predominant horns of the cars surrounding me. For most of the time the man spent moving across the road, sharp sounds of whiplashes echoed from his skin; his flesh was already swollen all over in a horrible manner. I saw whips, planks, and chains elevate in the air and descend on the grotesque figure they had created. He could only limp as he was directed by the angry mob, his languid movements told me that his end was imminent. He had no energy to dodge the ferocious efforts of his assaulters. The oozing blood, his soulless eyes, and his swollen genitals made me wonder what this man had ever done to deserve this animalistic maltreatment.
We call it Jungle Justice in Nigeria. Rampant in the underdeveloped areas of populated states in the country, the name sounds and seems rather too innocent in comparison to the act. Once someone is accused of stealing, pickpocketing, kidnapping or related crimes in public a mob is always ready to breakout and take the law into their own hands. The suspect is never asked to defend himself or herself, he or she is only given a choice to confess to the crime. Many times, the suspect is burnt alive after being bludgeoned and left on the verge of death. It’s a horrific and inhumane activity but it still happens 17 years well into the 21st century. Most people will instantaneously jump into doing certain things to their fellow human being without thinking but would never wish for the same fate. Apparently, we are basically selfish in our many deeds and our selflessness is a very conscious manifestation of our morality. We should come to the realisation of the fact that we are no different from the persons we’ve put to condemnation. Just imagine accusing someone of stealing and taking a life for it, who is the righteous one really? Amidst these lynching mobs there are persons with an insatiate for violence and murderous intents hiding under the guise of swift retribution in the hands of the public.
Many a time I’ve overheard the conversations of thugs and street boys on how to torture and publicly execute potential culprits. It’s nauseating, the excitement in the voices of these self-elected executioners when they discuss how they carry out these heinous acts. I’ve also witnessed the rush and frenzy of standers-by and collaborators as they launch their attacks on a suspect, it was a public show of dehumanisation for enthusiastic spectators. I wondered about how this could ever be so exciting for people to participate; I wondered where we kept our humanity. There was no one who tried to stop what was going on, and when I tried to question what was happening those around me shut me up claiming I must be an accomplice to be defending the suspect. I had barely left the scene when the boy was burnt. What’s going on with the authorities? Why did the security officers hide in their holes at such times?? Where is the police when such things happen??? Of course, I know they could be irresponsible and ineffective but this is a breach of civility! If we choose to overlook the gory details of this Mephistophelean act, for every time an innocent or redeemable soul is lost to it we have participated in an avoidable cannibalism within our so-called civilised society.