BRING BACK OUR HUMANITY!
After a tiring day yesterday, Facebook was supposed to calm me as I was too tired to even watch a movie. On opening Facebook, I saw the pictures of a young man being lynched. Being who I am, I closed it and opted for Twitter. The pictures and even a video of it flooded my timeline. I went to bed angry, sad and confused.
The issue also generated a lot or condemnations which is normal. But unfortunately, some people are questioning whether the victim is 7 years old or whether he stole garri. A version of the story said he stole garri, another said he stole a phone and attempted to kill the owner. Now, here is my response to someone who questioned whether my friend, Rahaman is educated because he condemned the act in line with the ‘7 years old garri thief’ version of the story:
“Whether he is 7 years old or 77, no one has the right to lynch him. Whether he stole garri or billions, no one has the right to lynch him. Whether you’re surprised or not, it happened and we all saw it. Whether those who did were in their senses or not, it is condemnable. Whether we find the truth or not, The pictures are enough for us to judge, yes, I said it, judge. The least we can do is criticise, except we want it to continue until we become victims someday. Whether we are learned or not, we are human first and any act that questions our humanity should be criticised!”
I believe that should be settled and we should face the real issue, which is that the lynching is bad, B A D! Nigerians have condemned the act and I also condemn it, even though I’ve been avoiding conversations concerning it since yesterday. I can’t stomach it. I don’t want to relive the memories.
However, I’d like to examine why we keep having incidents like this. Permit me to share some personal stories.
In secondary school, my set was a little notorious and the school cut us a lot of slack. Many teachers tried all they could to instill discipline but some just abandoned us to our fate. Because of the perceived freedom, we spent every moment breaking the law. From sleeping over at game centers to lynching a mate who stole money. I went to a Federal Government College and we had a compound that afforded us the freedom to jump the fence from any angle.
I was un/fortunate to attend a Federal University again and what I met was a form of refined jungle justice. I was particularly proud when a huge man who was said to be a soldier was “moderated”(as we called the hearing session ) and punished. I felt safe and I knew no one will oppress me. Jungle justice thrived and we all loved the power it gave us, the seeming simplicity of it. Unfortunately, it thrived because it was largely uncoordinated and the University Security Department didn’t step up to situations on time, students made their own laws.
One day, I witnessed a beautiful young lady who gained notoriety for theft beaten like a criminal. I heard her story, asked her a couple of questions and diagnosed kleptomania but who am I to stop a tradition that got to school before me? I couldn’t stomach it and I left. Another day, a young man wore niqab like a Muslim lady, entered the female hostels and stole phones. When he was caught, we realised that he had been punished several times before. He was paraded round school and beaten again. At this point, I began to question the validity of our methods, if it won’t stop them from doing it again then why don’t we find an alternative that will not just punish but rehabilitate them?
One day, My silence changed from gold to clay. My friend and brother, Amurawaye Thaddeus was lynched inside the Students Union Building on a Sunday night. I got there late but even when I got there, I couldn’t do anything. The memory of one beast driving screwdriver into him remains in my head. The only thing I could do was to ask them to hold on, I tried to stop them but I couldn’t. They accused him of being a cultist, simply because he is a friend and Chief Security Officer to Isaac Motunrayo Ibikunle, the then Students Union President whose political opponents wanted to frustrate. When Ibikunle arrived on campus, no one could face him and call him a cultist, the charges disappeared politically as they came. Teddy didn’t die, fortunately but for a split second, I thought he was going to die that day. If he had died, his murderers would have killed him for reasons they themselves don’t know. That’s how jungle justice are.
After that, I discussed with Abimbola WellBeloved Akinyemi and Ogbeni Omonijo Abiodun on the need to reform our justice system and but the students at that time were either too ignorant or hypocritical to accept any change.
Now to my main point, we lynched that guy in secondary school because a lot of our other offences had been overlooked by the school. We basically operated no law. My friend was almost killed in Ife because jungle justice was normal in that environment. The ALUU4 were killed because of the volatility of Rivers State generally. The security situation made it easier for a bunch of fools to murder innocent and promising young men just like that.
In Ife, the system was introduced after the July 10 1999 massacre that led to the death of many students. The University Authorities failed students then, the then Vice Chancellor, Professor Wale Omole was accused of being complicit and the students took laws into their own hands.
In the late 90s, I wasn’t too young to see how popular it was to put an old tire on the neck of a thief,pour some fuel and light him/her up. My dad witnessed one, made a rapid dialogue with his legs and told us the story at home. Then, Nigeria had just been delivered from the evil that was Abacha, people didn’t believe in any law or justice so they had to take laws into their own hands.
As much as we are condemning the act, some people don’t mind thieves being killed that way because, in their opinion, if they’re reported to the Police Force, they’ll bribe the officers and be released. People who have suffered from the corruption that our judicial system is might also support the act of taking laws into one’s hands. Believe me, I’ve heard things.
If we have a system that works, where policemen will act accordingly, where a citizen is sure of getting justice without bribing anyone, I believe the spate of these killings will reduce.
The change from beasts who kill human beings to human beings who cherish human lives begin with us all. It begins with the police officer I saw two weeks ago who wasn’t bothered by thugs fighting beside her. It begins with the young man who disobeyed the traffic warding yesterday. It begins with the principal who allows students to cheat during exams. It begins with parents who train their children to hate others because of differing tribes or religion.
This change, not the Lai change begins with us all!