A young man visited his aunty one early morning at 7:00 am in an outskirt of Lagos. He mistakenly knocked at a wrong door in the building. Two middle-aged women came out and asked him who he was looking for. He mentioned his aunt’s name, but that is not the name she was known for within the vicinity. The two women raised alarm and immediately some young men numbering about 15 dragged the boy, started beating him and calling him ‘ole’, thief.
He would have been lynched or set ablaze, being the norm but on the aunt’s timely intervention, who strolled to the street to find out why the noise outside.
Last two Sundays, Olorunfemi Tope, a driver, who was involved in an accident that claimed four lives, was killed and set ablaze at Ijoka area of Akure, Ondo State.
According a report, the mother, Mojisola, watched as the “bloodthirsty horde milled around him, hitting him with stones and sticks, as they accused him of being an Internet fraudster, aka Yahoo boy. The woman “appealed to the mob to let go of her son, who was only visiting the town because his wife and child were holidaying with her. Instead of heeding the pleas, the mob made to burn her with her son”.
It was also heart-breaking when a 22-year old man was set ablaze early April this year in Calabar by an angry mob for allegedly stealing an Android phone at Atimbo in Calabar, Cross River State.
Last year, one David was lynched and burnt to death in Lekki, Lagos, by a group due to a misunderstanding with a commercial motorcyclist, popularly called Okada rider, over N100. The society was upset about the incident.
Few years ago, a 7-year old child was burnt alive by angry mob on suspicion of stealing a phone in Orile-Iganmu in Lagos. In May last year, also a female student, Deborah, of the Shehu Shagari College of Education Sokoto was killed and set ablaze over alleged blasphemy.
Last month, a group of five suspected phone snatchers in Awka, Anambra State, were apprehended by angry youth who set them on fire. There are many more of these incidences.
The psyche and heart of many decent people is always gripped and sober watching the video of plethora incidences of setting human beings ablaze alive in many parts of Nigeria.
On almost weekly basis, Nigeria witnesses the dastard occurrence of jungle justice resulting in lynching and setting human beings ablaze on pedestrian and unimaginative reasons, which could have been tempered or handled by the police in a civilized society.
Unfortunately, the authorities and the larger society appear either helpless or have accepted the lynching and setting of human being ablaze as a norm or corrective measure. As at today, there are no widely publicised efforts by the government at all levels to checkmate this dastard act.
Many of these heinous and barbaric crimes are either reported or not reported in many states in the country. For the odious act to happen, perpetrated by mostly the uneducated, angry and frustrated youth, it is triggered by simple pronunciation of ‘ole’, thief, ‘ barawo’, ‘onye-oshi’ or any other tag or label depending on the region.
Each of these lynching has attracted world-wide condemnation, still the act has not abated.
Irene Ugbo, spokesman of the Nigerian Police Command Calabar, described the lynching of the 22-year old man as barbaric and unacceptable.
The video of the 7-year old child lynched and set ablaze in Orile-Iganmu, Lagos, few years ago caused outrage on social media with Nigerians demanding the prosecution of his killers. Killing of Deborah and setting her ablaze in Sokoto was widely condemned with no arrest and prosecution.
Roasting fellow human beings alive on trump charges or accusation is not only savagery, barbaric, inhuman but jungle justice, a vicious stone-age practice informed by illiteracy that should not exist in today’s Nigeria.
If one combines the act of frequent lynching and wanton killings by insurgents and kidnappers, it underscores the despicable level the Nigerian society values life.
Sometimes it is repulsive to descent human beings to even watch the video of the lynching of fellow human being much more being present at the site of the act. One therefore wonders what kind of feeling the perpetrators exercise in setting fellow human beings alive without recourse by themselves or standbys.
Human Rights Committee (CCPR) frowns that the use of the death penalty in any manner and form is not consistent with the right to life and the right to live free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It says there is growing consensus for universal abolition of the death penalty. Already “some 170 nations have abolished or introduced a moratorium on the death penalty either in law or in practice”.
This consensus should cascade down to the lower ladder of the society with creation of awareness and enlightenment on the cruel and inhuman nature of setting human beings ablaze.
But it needs examining why such cruelty by a group of people has become a common sight in Nigeria, without moral and decent bystanders not challenging or intervening and when they do, it is not accepted. There is no doubt that some innocent people may have been framed up and executed in such manner.
Some have argued that setting human beings ablaze, which is illegal system of capital punishment, happens because of frustration, anger of losing the little wealth one has acquired in a distressed economy and thirdly lack of confidence on legal institutions including the police. However, such atrocious extreme act should not be the only solution to correcting the society.
The governors should wake up to the reality that roasting human beings alive in their state does not only portray the crude way we think and question our sensibilities and responsiveness but it gives us a crude identity. The governor, who wants their states to be seen as tolerant, investor-friendly, law-abiding with civil behaving citizens and as accommodating state, should act to stop this crime because such inhuman act can scare investors away. Moral suasion, sensitisation and law can apply in checkmating setting human being ablaze.
It is therefore possible to put a stop to setting human being ablaze across the states through legislation, sensitisation of the people, awareness creation and elevating the value of life. Enough is enough of this jungle justice.