By Shittu Ahmed Obassa
Worried by recurring incidents of jungle justice in the country, some Nigerians have called on the security agencies to take tough measures that on perpetrators who take lives at will.
A section of the Nigerian public made the call on Wednesday in Abuja.
A civil servant, Mr David Famiyesin, said the trend and the dimension jungle justice had taken does not portray the perpetrators of this illegal act in good light.
According to him, the action does not show any signs of civilisation, adding that it is immoral.
Famiyesin said: “it is barbaric for mobs to engage in jungle justice without really ascertaining if the accused person is indeed innocent of the crime he is being accused of.
“Many innocent people have become victims of jungle justice just because they were in wrong place at the wrong time and nobody gave the suspects a listening ear.
“These angry mobs perpetrate such wicked act without knowing that they are committing another crime in the name of meting out punishments,’’ he said.
Famiyesin noted that the trend in jungle justice was assuming a disturbing dimension with no end to it because no penalty for the perpetrators.
He, however, appealed to the Police and other security agencies to do the needful to the trend before the situation was out of control.
Similarly, a trader, Mrs Chizulum Nweke, condemned the overzealous attitude of the perpetrators of jungle justice at the slightest suspicion within their environment, saying that it was unlawful for some to laws into their hands.
“ People see the act of jungle justice as a quick way to punish criminals in their areas, but it is unlawful.
She expressed displeasure at the continued molestation and killing of people needlessly by angry mobs, irrespective of whether or not the suspects are guilty.
“The angry mob does not even want to know what the person did. Immediately they hear someone shouting thief, they just start chasing anyone running in that direction.
“I once witnessed such an act where the person running was burnt alive, while the person whose property was stolen just wanted it back and not the death of the suspect,’’ Nweke said.
She, however, stressed that a law should be made against the act and the police should play their part by apprehending the mob the indulge in jungle justice.
Also Miss Chinasaokwu Nwana, a student, described the act as cruel and unlawful way to punish those who are suspected rightly or wrongly by an angry mob.
She noted the youths mostly carried out the jungle justice in their neighbourhoods or public places.
“We are in a society where we can’t walk freely because of the fear of being identified as criminals and get punished by an angry mob.
“The mobs which are mostly illiterates, because I don’t see how a learned person would stone and burn someone to death because of stealing something not worth taking a life,’’ Nwana observed.
According to Nwana, the police should endeavour to checkmate or rather do everything within the ambit of the law to avert such an action by unscrupulous elements.
She also suggested that more training should be given to the police to enable them to crackdown the perpetrators before it is too late.
“ Also there should be more awareness on the implications of such ungodly act to forestall jungle justice in the near future.
In his reaction, the immediate past Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, who spoke TVC News programme “ The Platform” recently, said the issue of jungle justice was a growing manifestation of impatience, lawlessness and impunity in the society.
According to him, Nigeria is the number one country in the world where law enforcement is very difficult even though the police is one of the best, judging by his personal experience in international operations.
He maintained that Nigerians do not heed to security advice even if one is given to them on any issue in order to ease the job of policing the country.
He also said the mass media should stop glamourising criminal activities,adding that the media professionals could also help the police in the areas of effective communication with the people so as to be able control and prevent crime.
Owoseni urged the public to report any suspicious movement or activities in their surroundings to the nearest law enforcement agents in good time, re-echoing this popular jingle “ If you see something, say something”.
His successor, Commissioner of Police Imohimi Egal in an interview with Radio Nigeria Network News, also advised Nigerians, especially the people of Lagos state indulging in jungle justice with reckless abandon to desist from the dastardly act in the interest of justice and fairness.
He emphasised that when suspects are arrested, the proper thing to do is to hand them over to the law enforcement agents to prosecute such suspects for the crime they have committed in a court of competent jurisdiction.
OBASSA is an Abuja-based journalist
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