Polls Blame Mob Actions On Distrust Of Law Enforcement Agencies | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Polls Blame Mob Actions On Distrust Of Law Enforcement Agencies

Posted: Jul 8, 2016 at 3:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chukwudi Nweje


If the police and other security agencies did their jobs well and gained the confidence of the citizenry, the rampant cases of jungle justice in Nigeria may be reduced to the barest minimum, a recent survey suggested.

Jungle justice can be defined as the capital punishment meted out by individuals without recourse to legal authority over alleged crimes they are deemed to have committed.

Section 33 (1) (2) (a) –(c) of the 1999 Constitution guaranteed that “(1) Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.

“(2) A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section, if he dies as a result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably necessary; (a) for the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for the defence of property:

“(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or

“(c) for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.”

Section 36 (5) of the constitution goes further that; “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty;

Provided that nothing in this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes upon any such person the burden of proving particular facts.”

However, despite these rights, fundamentally guaranteed by the constitution, several people had been killed deprived of their right to life without contrary to the conditions listed in the constitution.

Sometimes all that was needed to affect the killing of somebody was a mere shout of “ole” or “thief” and a mob will gather and without asking questions, lynch the victim.

What is responsible for this growing phenomenon, which is prevalent across the length and breadth of the country?

A recent survey conducted by NOIPolls, which sought the views of Nigerians on Jungle Justice / mob attack suggested mob actions occur because the citizenry do not trust the law enforcement agencies.

About 51 per cent of respondents questioned attributed jungle justice in the country to “lack of trust in the law enforcement agencies,” about 43 per cent however blamed it on “illiteracy/lack of awareness of laws.”

The survey also showed that majority of Nigerians (60 per cent) also described jungle justice or mob attacks as “a wicked and barbaric act”, while 19 per cent described it as “people taking the law into their hands”.

Unfortunately, although Nigerians know that their mob action amounted to taking the law into their hands, the incidences are still rampant.

Some people see the jungle dispensation of ‘justice’ as the only way to ensure justice is served.

There have been allegations that suspected robbers caught and handed over to law enforcement agencies ended back in the streets and sometimes attacked those that reported them to the police.

According to one report, a witness to a mob action said, “I have witnessed a situation where someone was caught once, taken to the police and a couple of weeks later, the same individual was caught committing the same act.

If I intervene, I might lose my life, because they would accuse me of being in cohorts with the suspect.”

On October 5, 2012 four students of University of Port Harcourt, Chiadika Biringa, Lloyde Toku Mike, Tekena Elkanah and Ugonna Obuzor, were killed on allegation that they were cultists and thieves, while people watched.

In February 2013, two women, a wife and her step-daughter, were also tortured for allegedly stealing pepper at the central market, Iyana Ejigbo, Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Lagos State.

They were beaten to stupor and grinded pepper poured into their vagina in the presence of leaders of the community. One of the women was later reported to die from the torture.

These are just a few of the rampant cases.

But even the law enforcement agencies also have their hands soiled with the blood of the innocent.

There are numerous cases of torture and extra-judicial killings in the custody of law enforcement agents.

In 2003, the police in Anambra State shot to death four persons when the driver of the vehicle conveying them refused to offer gratification to the police. The police on a regular basis employ torture as a means of extracting confessional statements from suspects.

The people of Odi in Rivers State, Obiaruku in Delta State and the Tivs in Benue State witnessed such when security agents sent those places for peace keeping turned round and made the mission one of revenge.

Police Cells, especially those of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) are alleged to be centres of extra judicial killings.

In a 2009 report, Amnesty International (AI) had alleged that “the Nigeria police are responsible for hundreds of unlawful killings every year.”

In the report entitled ‘Nigeria Police kill at will’, Erwin van der Borght, Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme, claimed that “It added that “Police don’t only kill people by shooting them; they also torture them to death, often while they are in detention.”