This follows the alleged killing of a boy who reportedly stole garri (cassava flakes) in Orile, Lagos state Last week. The police have dismissed reports of the incident but residents of the area attested to the mob-killing.
However, the said mob justice was a trait of a people with long deprivation of justice which showed the fault lines in Nigeria’s legal system.
The Senate is working on a legislation to check extra-judicial killings in the country. The bill which has passed the second reading is sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West). It is titled “Prohibition and protection of persons from lynching, mob action and extra-judicial executions.”
He condemned law enforcement agencies for failing in their responsibility of handling arrested criminals like armed robbers, ritualists and kidnappers, adding that, as if policemen never existed, the people are compelled to fight with their backs to the wall and dispense jungle justice.
According to him, “the Nigerian constitution states that every Nigerian citizen is entitled to some fundamental rights, one of which is specified in chapter four, which reads in part, ‘Every person has the right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save the execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria (Section 33(1).’’
Nigeria has had a history of mob killings.
On a single day in July 1999, a suspected robber was laced with a motor tyre and set ablaze and four hotels suspected to be robbers’ hideouts were burnt by mobsters in Onitsha.
In 2012, four students of the University Of Port Harcourt, who were falsely accused of being thieves, were lynched at Aluu Community in rivers state.
The Apo killings are evergreen, the killing of motor drivers for N20 bribe and the killing of suspects in police custody. The practice of jungle justice is so common in Nigeria that the shout of ‘thief, thief’ has become a combustible alarm sounded by insolvent debtors to consume their creditors.
In July 2016, a mob in kano state killed Bridget Agbahime, a 70 year old woman for alleged blasphemy.
In October 2016, a man reportedly had his hand chopped off for attempting to steal a flat screen tv at a football viewing center in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The bill was first presented on the floor of the Senate on August 11, 2015.