The anger, outbursts, hurt and emotions will last for a long time most especially in the hearts of the families they left behind, but as a society won’t we once again forget and move on after a while, like we always do?
The Aluu4 killings make me angry. Very angry! I have not watched the video nor seen any of the gruesome pictures and I intend never to. The graphic details I have gathered from others are enough to make me wonder how man can be that unkind to his fellow man. The anger I still feel is so strong, that at a point I was tempted to join those pronouncing curses and condemnations on the killers but then I went through a moment of reflection.
I went to an only girls’ boarding school. In the third term of my first year, a fellow student’s stolen property was found in the hostel locker of another student (Let us name her Janet). The “thief thief” alarm was raised and in few minutes, students gathered. Janet’s locker, bags and boxes were then opened for public scrutiny. Other students gradually discovered she had stolen their properties as well. And then, it started. Slaps, punches and blows from different directions rained on Janet. She was beaten without mercy until she began convulsing, and then out of fear everyone took to their heels. Some individuals were quick to alert the housemistress and that was how she was rescued and taken to the sickbay for treatment. We were fortunate she survived it but then that was jungle justice being administered by a bunch of JSS 1 students with many of us not up to the age of 10. I didn’t watch talk more of hitting her but, I was in the next room aware of what was going on not doing anything. I recall making statements like “she is a big thief and that is why they are beating her”. Thus, while I was not present at the scene, with my statement I had justified all that was going on making me no less guilty than those on the scene administering the jungle justice. All this happened in 1996 thereabout.
Fast forward to 2012 we have the Aluu4 killings. Killings that would never have occurred if society was not as barbaric as it has become.
As a society, we are to blame for the death of those young boys. We are unworthy to judge or condemn the killers. As a society we have failed those boys. Failed them through our nonchalant attitude towards jungle justice. Failed them through our silent encouragement of jungle justice over the years when the accused is unrelated to us. The Aluu4 killers are evil as the word itself but we can’t deny that they are a product of the society we live in. Jungle justice has been ingrained in every fiber of our culture. While most of us will not stoop to the barbaric level of killing and butchering others like what obtained at Aluu, many of us will not hesitate to take laws into our hands when wronged unjustly. The distrust in the authorities and organized justice system has made us subconsciously justify, accept or turn a blind eye to the administration of jungle justice. This is the real problem that needs to be fixed.
Justice for Aluu4 is a good start but it does not come close to fixing this problem that has eaten deep into our society. What of Janet who was beaten up to the point of convulsion for theft? Or the little boy who was burnt alive in front of the National Stadium in Lagos some years back? The child was begging and running but he was chased by the mob which included mothers of children, captured and set on fire. Or the alleged kidnappers caught in Abuja some months back that were beaten, handcuffed and thrown off a bridge? What about the countless stories of jungle justice that will never get to the media? Or that occurring presently as I write this article? Removing this cankerworm from our society encompasses an overhaul of our entire mental faculties and attitude towards taking laws into our hands.
Ranting, raining curses and condemnations does not solve the problem. Razing down the entire Aluu village or killing all the community members does not solve the problem either. That in itself is jungle justice and a continuation of the vicious primitive cycle. Uprooting this cankerworm requires positive actions that will transcend us so our society never relives this horror again. We need to reflect and accept that as a society we have failed. We also need to imbibe forgiveness and remove all vengeful tendencies, thus forwarding all grievances to the proper authorities and allowing them administer justice even if they tend to fail us time and time again. Everyone needs to take action in this change and healing process so we never go down this road again.
I advocate laws to be made. Laws that will illegalize jungle justice irrespective of the form they may take. I advocate that billboards and signs discouraging and highlighting the ill-effects of jungle justice be placed everywhere. I advocate that the curriculum of our young impressionable ones be incorporated with the ill-effects of jungle justice in the society. But most importantly, I advocate that we as a people change our attitudes to jungle justice. People will always steal and commit crime but it doesn’t mean we should take the laws into our hands. We might distrust the administration of justice by the law enforcement agencies but we will be worse off when we administer jungle justice because then we gradually begin to loose our humanity. The law enforcement agencies are a reflection of our society and if we change our attitudes, those given the mantle to administer justice will change as well.
Photo credit: eurweb.com _____________________________________________________________________________________________Agofure Eguono is an Economist who lives by the motto “live and let live”. She is also a trained Image and Style consultant, eclectic by nature and believes the world can only be a better place when everyone becomes a staunch disciple of Love