MOB action is one social phenomenon that has refused to give way from the social domain despite the ambivalence that greet its existence.
This is neither a Nigerian factor nor trade mark of any particular society. Mob actions are noticeable even in highly clvilised societies but moderation of occurrences and management of situations to forestall reoccurrence make the difference.
In the heat of Xenophobic reigns in South Africa, the social media and mainstream media had a fill in their hands on people lynched for as flimsy reasons as resistance to surrender their rightful property to a gang of people or for daring to hold opinion challenging the abuse of power by groups working for themselves and faceless proxies.
In the build up to the Rwandan genocide of the early 90s, the inter group rivalries stoked by alliances and interests triggered high flames at every little spark by way of confrontation. The Crux of any discernible inference here is that there is always a group of persons ready to vent their spleens on perceived prey with little patience to check the positions of the law in the given circumstance.
Shockingly, their actions usually leave trails of murder with no particular person to account for the deed. Pathetically, there had been innocent victims of this regrettable public action; such that their lives had been wasted for no just cause and more painfully, without anybody to pay for the injustice handed to them.
Some activities in Nigeria overtime had elevated mob actions at some points in history in different demographies. In Lagos State, it was often a regular sight to behold lynched persons on streets and under bridges in the 90s according to a society watch expert and public affairs analyst, Camilus Joe- Odo. “I recall an incident way back in 1999 at Illasamaja area of Surulere, Lagos State, when police raided hotels, rendezvous and criminal hideouts in the area. One alleged criminal believed to have evaded police’s prying eyes ran aimlessly down the streets thereby attracting people to his pursuit. On sighting crowd coming after him and probably losing energy already, he jumped into the drainage and crawled deep inside the scummy drainage. The gathered crowd decided that they must see the end of it and immediately mobilised tyres and petrol. They closed off the entry and exit ends of the drainage with enough tyres and lit the materials up. In no distant time, the criminal hiding inside the gutter charged out albeit feebly and crashed to the ground. The crowd roared and helped the criminal with reinforcement of the burning tyres and more other objects around him. In matter of moments, the huge man was reduced to mere charred remains and everybody dispersed. Nobody knew what exactly the man committed and nobody cares for any explanation”
The scenario is not much different in Aba, Enyimba City of Abia State. Alleged criminals when apprehended by the public are instantly hacked down and burnt to ashes and everybody moves on. An anonymous respondent resident in Aba confided in National Light that the city has no tolerance for criminality like pickpocketing, as such would be the fastest way to the criminal’s end once apprehended. He however admitted that despite the public aggressions against hoodlums in the city, Enyimba City is still not without the bad elements in her territory.
In Anambra State, the mid 1990 witnessed deluge of mob actions and jungle-justice. The spate of killings of alleged culprits of criminal acts by the public who spared no thought was so high that it needed only “Hol Am!” (Literally meaning, catch the person being on the run) shout to set the motion for hot pursuit of any perceived criminal and eventual apprehension. Before Jack Robinson is mentioned, the victim would already be roasting in the ablaze of bonfire. The same goes with the activities of Bakkassi Boys at the time of Dr Mbadinuju’s reign as Governor of Anambra State; a precedence that may never be forgotten in history.
While the barbarism lasted, the intolerable activities of men-of-the underworld should not be forgotten, which believably usually propped the gusto of the highly incensed public to administer the raw justice on any unfortunate victim without losing any sleep.
With the passage of time, the tendency seems to be subsiding and police alongside other security agencies are on top of the situation. As the era of sanity grows stronger, the mind becomes too feeble to be drawn again into awful scenario of human lynching by any group of persons in the society. Suffice it to say that it not only looks strange but benumbs consciousness each time one is exposed to the sight of such gory act in the current social order.
It is in this frame of mind and on improved healthy social culture that the doom once again dropped down, this time at the Innoma Estate area of GRA part of Awka, the capital territory of Anambra State, on October 30, 2019. Along this road on that day laid what seemed like a log of plantain shoot from a distance but closer view jolts one to consciousness as what was on ground turned the remains of a young man probably in his 20, with his face awkwardly buried to the ground but bruises on the body enough to suggest that the once vivacious life was forcefully brought down on the spot in a combative fashion.
While National Light had a good reportage of the incident, getting the identity of the dead young man as Samuel Moses, aka Sam Loko, they discovered that Sam Loko was lynched by irate mob who could not take his weird conduct that led him to go after a minor in the presence of her mother, grabbing the little girl murderously possibly seeking to gain canal knowledge of her in the open. Bizarre as that could look, the underlining inference is that Loko was estranged and surely not acting with his clear mind. He was clubbed to death right on the spot and that settled further issues arising from the incident as far as the mob were concerned.
While the mobs have all gone their various ways, the questions trapped beneath Sam’s frame on the ground seeking for answers are; does Sam truly deserve to die despite his unholy intention towards the minor? If Sam was under a spell at the time, does not he need help and greater pity from his once loveable society that he was suddenly estranged from? Even though what he last did was wrong, was the mob not equally wrong to have adjudicated on his matter without option of any fair hearing?
Like Sam and others of his ilk, a deeper reflection on their unfortunate end will throw up a lot of issues. Since neither has it been known any restitution that can be at parity with life nor acquiescence that can place the troubled spirits of these victims of jungle justice (for those who were innocent of what led to their end anyway), it is important that the society employ some measure of restraint in the execution of mob justice no matter how compelling the circumstance may evokes.
Suffice it to say that the law should be allowed to take its course in the affairs of all mankind. The sanctify of human life should be upheld by all. Even some trigger happy murderers in busy environs of civilised countries have been stopped on their tracks with minimal damage, without necessarily gunning down the assailant at first approach. The case of the sporadic gunshots by an estranged man in London school that left some people dead and many others injured, while the cops apprehended the culprit alive, tells that taking other person’s life is way off the options in such or even more extreme circumstance.
Again, in Nigerian setting, security agencies should do well to commend the people’s confidence in them. Most victims of jungle-justice are reflections of poor perception of the police and their sister agencies in dealing judiciously with the culprit when the public hands such people to them. The police and their allied security agencies must demonstrate to the people, their high level professionalism in the discharge of their duties.
While the country rues on the losses invited through mob actions, it is not late to begin a new orientation acquainting citizenry with the possible implications of aiding or abating mob actions with particular emphasis on the inevitable consequences as provided by the law of the Federal Republic.