11th October, 2012
As Nigerians continue to express outrage over the gruesome killing of four Port Harcourt University students in Rivers State, one detail seems to have escaped media attention, the fact that jungle justice is blind to reason and has continued to enjoy the support of the people because of the crass failure of the Nigeria Police Force to prosecute robbery suspects.
While we condemn the barbaric killing of the university students by the vigilance group at Aluu community in Port Harcourt, we must admit that mob killings happen regularly in Nigeria because the cops are often accused of accepting bribes from suspected armed robbers and setting them free once their accusers or captors are gone.
As a result, the people often end up taking law into their hands through jungle or mob justice because the right channel fails them and the robbers return to their homes to terrorise their families. Armed robbers are sometimes accused of conniving with police officers before carrying out their operations. As a result, the police are often accused of deliberately showing up at the scene of the incident long after the robbers had escaped.
Nigerians seem to have lost faith in the police to prevent armed robbery attacks, investigate cases or prosecute suspects. Bad as it is, jungle justice, to many people, is a way of revolting against the failure of the police to do their job. However, no matter the explanation, jungle justice is wrong. No one has the right to take another person’s life based on suspicions or accusations that may even prove to be baseless or false.
Many innocent people have been killed by the mob because of crimes they never committed and w hen the truth was finally out, it was too late to bring back the deceased to life. The way forward, we believe, is to have an efficient Police Force that enjoys the respect and trust of the people. The police must sit up and regain the trust of the people by being proactive, honest and transparent in the way they discharge their duty.
Cases must be thoroughly investigated and suspects must be prosecuted speedily and the people must be carried along through the appropriate media.
It is only when Nigerians have total faith in the relevant authorities that they will stop taking laws into their hands. People who have been shot or whose relatives have been killed by armed robbers often do not have much sympathy for suspected armed robbers, whether they are innocent or not.
The authorities must hunt down the Aluu killers and bring them to justice. They should also carry out media campaign to sensitive the people about avoiding such behaviour in the future. They must also show the people constantly that they can get justice through the appropriate channel.