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The Menace Of Social Malady In Our Society

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By Michael Ayotunde

By whatever name it is called – Jungle justice, mob action, lynching – is a form of public extrajudicial killings. The menace has for the umpteenth time find expression in our society, and too bad, it is getting louder and louder with each passing day.

It is common to learn of such actions being taken against suspected, unconfirmed ‘criminals’, particularly in Sub-Sahara Africa countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon etc, where an alleged criminal is publicly humiliated, beaten and summarily executed by mob action.

Without doubt, jungle justice is evil; it is inhuman, condemnable and barbaric.

However, some analysts are of the opinion that the harmful effect of criminal elements on innocent citizen in recent time has led to the rise in the execution of jungle justice. Innocent citizen on daily basis are being subjected to criminal attack which has led to the loss of many lives and properties.

The frequency at which mob actions take place, and largely unchecked by relevant security agencies, is still subject of major concerns and a rude shock to our collective sensibilities. The unpredictable nature of mob actions across all parts of the country leaves any discerning mind to wonder how lowly we have degenerated as a nation. Week in, week out, we are served on social media and other platforms gory images, videos of angry mobs killing and desecrating the bodies of citizens who are victims of this madness sweeping through our society.

It is disheartening to see people who, despite the atrocities being perpetrated against fellow human being, pull out their mobile phones to film, record such incidents. It enrages any civilised mind that people will use their phones to record such man’s inhumanity to man with glee.

Mob action, by all standard, is said to be a violation of the victim’s rights under sections 33, 34 and 36 of the Nigerian Constitution which respectively guarantee everyone the rights to life, right to dignity of the human person and to a fair hearing. As if these provisions were mere insertions in the Constitution, government, security agencies – all look helpless in the face of lawlessness. No one is held accountable.

Incidents have shown that not only are innocent people falling victims of jungle justice, it has caused their maim or even eventual death. A number of factors are no doubt responsible for this unfortunate menace. A combination of rising crime rate, the inertia found in a dysfunctional and corrupt judiciary system, debased social, value system, and loss of confidence in law enforcement agencies, governments’ usual ‘siddon look’ posture are some of the reasons mob actions persist in the country.

The unintended consequence of exposure to such gruesome images of an orgy of mutilation and death is that society becomes narcotised to them, a situation which lowers our sense of decency, humanity, and value system. And sadly too, it is unimaginable that people provide tacit legitimacy to mob action under all sorts of lame excuses, and this reflects the larger malaise of loss of faith in law enforcement and the judicial systems.

The prevalence of corruption, insecurity and unemployment has given the impression that we are in a lawless society and justice cannot be achieved in the present judicial dispensation.

The situation at hand requires urgent attention to halt further breakdown of law and order. There is need to improve the security situation in the country and reduce mob justice. We certainly cannot dispute the fact that we have barely functional and fractured law enforcement and judicial system, where it takes years before one can hope to get justice – that is if it ever happen. The earlier we come to term with the gravity of the danger it poses to us as individuals, and as a nation, the better. This, if not checked and tamed, is capable of igniting ethno-religious conflict in our society.

The governments – at all levels – must sit up and do the needful without further delay. There is the need to wield the big stick against perpetrators of such acts to ensure that only the courts can give a guilty verdict and stipulate the commensurate punishment. That said, it should also be noted that many criminals get away unpunished and that, in most cases, provoke the mob.

To redress the situation, the police and the courts must collaborate to ensure that crime suspects are given speedy trials at the end of which those found guilty must be punished according to the law. It is by this that this barbaric regime of jungle justice can be totally eliminated from our society.

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