Saturday, 10 November 2012

JUNGLE JUSTICE: A PART OF THE NIGERIAN CULTURE


Living virtually in every part of Nigerian has given me an understanding of the people’s culture and their response to security challenges. In social sciences, a man is known to be a political animal but not an animal in the real sense of it which does not know how to dictate and control the excess of its own specie. The animal in man has always adjusted itself to the rules and norms of the law in every human society and it is expected to always perform the duty which its superior senses have over the wild animals in the jungle. The nature at which Nigerians respond verbally or physically to criminal situations far from the domain and within their domain to an alleged suspect is similar. The Nigerian people in tradition for decades have adopted a norm which is acceptable to various ethic conflagrations within its society and this norm has being transferred to different generations over the years. An average Nigerian man takes the act of criminality extensively personal depending on the degree of the act within his environs and his level of socialization with the Nigerian justice system.

video

        WARNING: This video is of a sensitive nature. The brutal response of the Nigerian security agencies towards its citizens.


 Nigerians believes the first response to any criminal act around his environment is to strike with force the alleged suspect with any available weapon that blood might gush out from the apprehended person before the suspect realized that what he or she has done is wrong and that will make the suspect to know that his environment will never condone such acts of criminality. That is the Nigerian man’s perception of teaching a suspect that his not welcomed in the society. The concept stems from the notion that demobilization of the apprehended suspect must be done first and the best way to achieve that is to brutally injure such the suspect in question and that would simply send a message to other criminal minded fellows to learn the consequences of their actions against the society.  But the fact remains that their actions has not changed the criminal situation in the country.


THE FAMILY AND ITS INFLUENCE
Virtually every Nigerian family makeup and their response to acts of lying or stealing within the home works with the traditional rule which states that when a child does wrong, he must be beaten mercilessly and a permanent scar of torture must be added to the child’s body which will last in the memory of such individual for a life time. As the child as he grows up to become an adult, he remember what he had done  and the scar on his body represents the trophy for his actions and in return, the act of striking hard on suspected criminals is simply translated in their daily attitude as children growing up within the confines of the society. Their response towards stealing or lying in the larger society then must be attached with a brutal strike and a deep cut in the body which will create a permanent scar that would not make such a suspect repeat the same criminal offence anymore.


If such a person could not be contained and continues with acts of criminality, parents of such children become an outcast in the society and if the mother was the caring type, the father would say to the mother that such a child was not his biological child and that the mother must take the child to his father. At that moment the child is disowned by the father while the mother a times would curse the day she gave birth to the child. And probably out of pain and shame, which the child has brought to the family, the mother would say if she had knew she would have flushed the child or converted the egg in the fallopian tube into a wasted menstrual flow. All she would be saying out of anger and frustration is that is she would have aborted the child when he was still in the womb and that would have not brought the shame she was witnessing in the presences of the people which specks volumes in retrospect.


Parents on many occasion resort to divine intervention for their children that are addicted to criminal acts, but it seems the more they seek for divine intervention the more hardened those children become and when all hope is lost on rescuing such children, they would be waiting for a day when they would see the child no more. At that point, parents of such children would be expecting to hear that their notorious children are either apprehended by the state and sent to prison or killed by security agencies when caught in the act of stealing, never expecting them to end up in mob attacks.


And if that does not happen, the fate of suspected criminals would be determine by the irritated mob that both went through the same parental culture of treating a suspects as a war enemy. At that moment the survival and death of the suspect would be determined based on the quick presence and response of a well respected educated and civilized person in the community to rescue the suspect from the hands of his own people.


A Nigerian child grows up within this cultural setting develops the same mentality and believes that justice has to be dished out to the suspect even before the police are called to the scene of the incident. Children growing up in the Nigerian society are prone to act in such manner which seems to be a common way of dishing out his own share of home breed justice system before the state judicial system decides what it wants to do with the arrested criminal. This same set of people with home breed justice system secure jobs into the police college, the military and other security agencies run by the government and they grow along the ladder even with the formal education they must have received from their primary school days up to their university days. But the fact has being that the formal education they received has not in any way changed their traditional perception of the way a suspected criminal must be handled.


THE SECURITY AGENCIES               
Over the years, jungle justice is a modus oprandi of the security agencies in Nigeria. The security agencies response to hardened and defiant criminals for several decades speaks volumes.  Extra- judicial killings is a way of life in the Nigerian judicial system and continues to be a way of finding quick solutions to the menace. The Nigerian security system operatives believes it was the best way to reduce the work load of engaging in long criminal investigation and since the judicial system is floppy, security operatives can issue instant judgment without it having any consequences, a judicial system learnt from the society way of handling suspects. The fate of arrested suspects which had given security agencies a tough time before they are being captured are left in the hands of the security agencies just the way the fate of arrested suspects with a community is left in the hands of the mobs to determine.  It is a common knowledge in the country that people arrested on the act by the police are initially molested in the even in the presence of the people and those suspect that finally find their way into the custody of the security agencies are violently treated and bruised in order to obtain certain information from them and in the process many ended up dead due to torture.


The number of deaths in police operations which should have been averted and those in custody over the years is an example of what the society has thought its citizenry and their brutal response is a trade mark of their hatred towards those who do wrong in the society. The brutal attacks on the members of Boko Haram, a Muslim sect in Borno state by the Nigerian security agencies in the Northern part of Nigeria attest to this culture of jungle justice which is a norm in the society and which many Nigerians were proud of it and hailed the security agencies response. It is a norm within the Nigeria police service to have criminals being treated in the same manner in jungle justice without proper judicial steps taken which the public can learn from.


 Unaccounted numbers of suspects have died in custody due to torture and many have been sent to their graves out of administrative anger from the authorities fueled by the notorious nature of the suspect or the feelings that the criminal cases against such persons would take years and the state cannot afford to wait for proper judicial judgment which might free such persons. Nigerian security service operators have the mentality which the society possesses by seeing an alleged criminal as an enemy in war that must be eliminated at all cost even if he pulls out the white flag to surrender. The believe is that eliminating the suspect who has been a danger to the society immediately is viewed as a honorable thing to do in the Nigerian society. And for the security agencies, it was the best way of closing the case forever and the truth has being that many innocent souls have been victims of the jungle justice. 


Protesters are not left out among those who are facing similar attacks in the hands of the security agencies, no matter the nature of their political demand in the hands of the state. Anyone who opposes the view of elected officials and decides to take to the streets to express his anger against the political system is bound to be treated brutally in the same manner as a suspected criminal in the hands of the security agencies. It is more of a societal problem which expresses itself in the institutions of government that are expected to promote the rule of law among its citizens. And since the Nigerian security agencies with the level of their training cannot control themselves within their ranks and files and follow the rule of law when on duty, their actions will be the basis of entrenching jungle justice institutionally thereby educating the people on what to do to alleged criminals. Decades of institutional extra judicial killing has made both the citizenry and the security agencies to promote the same response against alleged suspects in whatever crime that must have taken place in the society as a society that accepts and appreciates jungle justice as a quick solution to stamp out criminality.


EDUCATING THE SOCIETY
The society in general has an enormous task ahead in re-educating its citizenry on how to tackle criminal acts and handle suspected criminals within the society. To start with, the home is a significant place where the education and re-orientation must start from.  Parents must start changing their attitudes towards criminals and suspects that are apprehended within their locality and must consistently educate their children about the acceptable ways a suspected criminal must be dealt with and demobilized before being transferred to the police. A new orientation on the need to protect the lives of suspected criminals is needed to be taught  to the members of the public and consistent awareness among the citizenry through the ministry of information and other relevant agencies of government needs to commence in earnest. The police must educate its personnel and recruits educated and disciplined Nigerians into its academy.


video

WARNING: This video is of a sensitive nature. The brutal response of common Nigerians against themselves.

Schools must introduce curriculum that would drive away the traditional notion in the mind of its student which states that injury to a suspected criminal is the crucial way of making the suspect to realize that his act was wrong. And the security authorities need to demonstrate to public what the consequences of their actions would cause as an impediment to investigation. Because much information that would have being derived from suspected criminals have been lost due to the actions of the mob and the security agencies which had sent suspected criminals to their graves in the process of executing a jungle justice. The media should play a major role in this aspect by promoting and educating the public on issues pertaining to criminal apprehension and advise the public to desist from encouraging jungle justice, no matter the degree of the crime. While those who carry out such crime must be brought to face the full wrought of the law. 


The media should be allowed to follow up the police investigation for the public interest while the nation’s judiciary must be prepared to do away with judicial cases of theft and armed robbery fast enough because it is believed the justice delayed is justice denied. It is a known factor that security agencies cannot perform effectively in any society without information, security agencies rely on information to achieve results and the best reliable information on knotty security issues can only be gotten right from the horse's mouth.

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