Let’s go back in time Tick Tock Tick Tock.
Recently, MR. X with an unfamiliar face, was said to have been caught in the hall and he was challenged about his presence at the time. He was said to have given incoherent answers to questions asked by the defence team, like 2KA, and having a 200level student contact in the hall. He could also not give credible reasons for his presence in the hall at that time and was recognized by people for unwelcomed entry into their rooms. It was discovered that he is a repeat offender of theft in the hall. He was caught with stolen things in his possession. The defence team took measures to punish him before handing him over to the security agents.
These have raised Opinions from many about Jungle justiceSome of the opinions include, “In a system that works where there is a civil order, Jungle justice has no place. Also, note that we are distinguished scholars and leaders of tomorrow who hope to build a system that works or migrate to where the system works. The need for Jungle Justice should be beneath us.
A contrary view is that punishment must be seen served by them or others. As the system has largely failed and many crimes keep going unpunished, there’s no deterrent, especially in such cases. An interesting Case scenario is “If a thief caught by people is taken to the authorities and they are released soon after because of insufficient evidence. There is a more likely chance of a repeat of this foul act than one who the people punished before handing him over to the authorities, regardless of the outcome with the authorities. Others have also argued that “anti- Jungle justice” views arise from persons who have not experienced the trauma of property theft.
Some have also compared the situation to what happened in Sokoto state – Deborah, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was beaten, killed, and her remains burnt by Muslim students of the school for alleged blasphemy against Allah. They argued that people in that community found her guilty of a crime and decided to punish her in their way- Jungle justice which has received different reactions. Interestingly a new term has emerged from this “Organized beating” where the Criminal or, in this case, the thief is well-prepped, taken care of as victims or interested parties are allowed to give out some form of punishment in a way that does not take the life or cause serious damage before he is handed over to the authorities. This is done to create some form of fear in the offenders to prevent a repeat of the crime and give victims some form of closure from their past painful experiences.
NOW LET US TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT JUNGLE JUSTICE IS
According to Wikipedia, Jungle justice is a form of public extrajudicial killing found in some Sub-Saharan African countries. An alleged criminal is publicly humiliated, beaten, and summarily executed by vigilantes or an angry mob. The victims are deprived of rights to which everyone is entitled under the rule of law. The punishment is normally barbaric, usually involving the stoning or burning of the unfortunate individuals in a public place.
Cameroon and Nigeria have the highest rate of jungle justice in Africa. Various studies show that jungle justice seems to be increasing in Nigeria. These incidents have made the Nigerian people and government appear uncivilized and savagery in the international community. The Southern part of Nigeria has been known to have more cases of Jungle Justice.
Before the colonial era that brought the English established laws used in the Nigerian state, the indigenous people had their specific law and order and corresponding forms of administration of criminal justice. Matters are often heard in public (village square) with everyone present. If any punishment is to be served like flogging the person, banishment the people are part of this form of justice, as they participate in one way or the other in the execution of the judgment. The current administration of criminal justice we use in Nigeria was drawn from our colonial masters with structures in the form of courts, Police, and correctional service, took a significant part of the peoples’ participatory rights in the justice system. Some parts of the country still use other forms of justice system like the Sharia Law in the Northern part of the country. People see jungle justice as an avenue for them to partake in the justice system as inherent in their cultural heritage (Oputa, 1991).
Jungle justice can occur in various forms and circumstances. An alleged murderer or a person caught stealing an handbag in the market, or in residential place could face the wrath of many. Some of the cases of jungle justice that have shaken the society include the Four boys of Aluu in Port-Harcourt in 2012, The Warri case of 2016, where only two out of seven alleged criminals were roasted alive, and, more recently, the case of Deborah, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto 2022.
Factors contributing to Jungle Justice include the high level of unprofessionalism amongst officers of the Nigerian police force, such that their actions are found questionable in a given case because they have already settled out of court (Ubabukoh, 2013). It is also believed that corruption has eaten into the fabric of the judiciary. Therefore, the court no longer based her decisions on the evidence adduced before the court but on their interest. According to studies by Olong (2012), it is said that the extremely slow process in the litigation of criminal matters has made the people find the court unfit to carry out its much-needed duties.Other factors contributing to Jungle Justice, according to various studies include include Illiteracy, precedents of events, and disregard for human rights.
There are certain implications of jungle justice in any society. Jungle justice can massively contribute to the deterioration of the country’s existing legal system, depicting the criminal justice system as being incompetent and weak in the way it handles criminal matters (Adu – Gyamfi, 2014). A more horrifying circumstance showing the implications of jungle justice is a situation where innocent persons are killed either by mistaken identity or false alarms. This shows that the participant of jungle justice lacks the acumen to label one an offender and deliver a fair verdict (Luke, 2013).
Secondly, Jungle justice has been used to manipulate police investigations and evidence. It has been observed that where the group persons planned an organized crime, if peradventure any of them is caught; the other members of the group, to erase any trace of their involvement permanently; would agitate the mob and masses to beat the member and subsequently kill them. This way, further investigation on the matter and evidence which would have been used to apprehend the other culprits would be lost on the verge of jungle justice (Olalekan, 2017).
Lastly, Jungle justice has a way of increasing the rate of violence in society by bonding the spirit of vengeance amongst the people. This occurs in a situation where the friends, colleagues, gang members, and family of the persons who was the victim of the jungle justice plan and task themselves with the responsibility to revenge the killing of their own by retaliating against everyone that heralded the act meted against their comrade (Teju, 2012). According to Teju (2012), this would account for the series of homicides in that areas without any trace of the root causes.
Jungle justice harbors ethnic conflicts and can ignite a state of lawlessness and chaos in the society. Observations show that the alleged accused person who was mobbed and killed without hearing his view of the event is often innocent. However, the people who killed him are at large and could not be ascertained. The person’s family might have lost a breadwinner, father, husband, son or brother or mother, sister, daughter, aunt, or wife. (Orabueze, Okoye & Ohaeto, 2013).
The issue of Jungle justice is seen by many as being able to serve as a deterrent to perpetrators of crime in Nigeria, but the truth is it has not had any real positive effect in curbing the rate of crime in the society. However, our society will be saner if people do not make themselves the rule of law, proposing and punishing offenders at will. Unlike the traditional society, a Justice system that offers no fair hearing opportunity is no justice at all.
According to Festus Okoye, a barrister and Nigerian human rights activist, Jungle justice has not reduced crime in Africa but has multiplied the number of human rights abuses in the continent. “We need proper education and enlightenment for the people to tell them of the consequence of using extrajudicial measures when a properly constituted court has not convicted an individual of law. Institutions also need to change the negative perceptions surrounding them and show that they are there to address the issues of all citizens.
Jungle justice is building a society where people are not passionate about their human beings Ignatius (2020). It is the peak of inhumanity to hear that a nursing mother was beaten into a coma because she stole a pot of soup or foodstuff. Why can’t the masses help her raise foodstuff instead of beating her?
In Conclusion the world is trying to eradicate the death penalty for capital offenses, while jungle justice is championing the death penalty even for the simplest offenses. Where is our human conscience?
Let us not be among the people who assume the ways of the Jungle to deliver Justice.