Yesterday horrific images of a young boy being lynched circulated social media. I was deeply saddened; firstly by the act and secondly by those who shared the images (I hear there was even a video) on their blogs and Facebook walls. Why on earth would anyone want to see such gruesome images?
The sad thing is that such incidents are not new “jungle justice” or “mob action” has happened in Nigeria and other parts of the world for years. I remember when I was 8 or 9 and I left my family home in Ikoyi to spend a few days with a close relative in Mushin, Lagos. I was on the balcony of her apartment taking in the sights and sounds when I saw a noisy mob surrounding a young man with a tire round his naked body. I was in shock and stood there just staring…the man must have been in his early 20’s and had a glazed look on his face…a look of total fear knowing his end was near. He had been doused with some flammable liquid and even children where in the crowd of people beating him. Suddenly a man in a car drove past and somehow by some miracle he was able to make sense to the people and slowly they dispersed leaving the young man alone. I do not know what he told them and I am almost sure it would have been hard to convince a larger crowd but thankfully the young man’s life was saved.
As I remembered this incident I wondered why the “photographers” in the case of the young boy who was killed yesterday couldn’t call for help. Surely there was a police station nearby? I had so many questions and my younger sister Ogochukwu captures some of them in an excerpt of something she wrote 9 years ago, read on…
I am left with many questions…
What drives ‘normal’ everyday people to such inhumane acts? Cruelty, self-righteousness, a desire for revenge? Or fear, anger, frustration, loss, pain? All of the above? Why has it become so mundane for people to be burned alive in the streets? I realise that when people act in a mob, inhibitions are stripped away and people do things they would normally never do, but, burning a fellow human being alive? They say they burn them in order to deter other criminals, but isn’t it obvious by now that this ‘strategy’ doesn’t work?
Doesn’t this practice hurt the perpetrators as well as the victims? I mean, if a person can carry out such a ruthless and violent act on the streets, doesn’t it somehow impact upon other aspects of their lives? What does this practice say about the level of anger and frustration simmering beneath the skin of ‘everyday people’?
In the haste to execute the guilty, how many innocent lives have been taken by mobs? And for the guilty ones, how is this level of brutality and barbarism an appropriate punishment? Doesn’t the use of inhuman punishment just end up dehumanising us and debasing our value for human life?
Finally, in real terms, is there any real hope for bringing an end to a practice which has persisted for so long? Do the authorities care?” O.N.
…do the authorities care? What’s your take on this inhumane practice and how do you think it can be put to and end? Would love to hear your views.