Jungle justice on the rise

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A wave of mob killings which has swept through the country in recent times has become a source of worry for well-meaning citizens even as experts propose remedies to the menace

The rustic ambience of Umuawom village in Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State hosted a gory scene as villagers assumed the roles of the accuser, the judge and executioner. Some of the community’s residents pounced on a fleeing prisoner and set him ablaze.

As the story goes, the unnamed man was among the inmates that escaped from a correctional centre in Owerri, Imo State capital on Monday, April 5, when some gunmen attacked the correctional centre and set the inmates free.

The fleeing inmate was said to have been remanded in custody for more than one year over his alleged involvement in kidnapping and other crimes until he escaped on April5. But while some other escapees voluntarily returned to custody, the unidentified inmate went straight to one of the families that testified against him and threatened to deal with the members.

To make good his threat, he was said to have attempted to attack a member of the family with a gun. But the move cost him his life as a mob made up of the community’s residents promptly seized him and set him ablaze.

In Lagos, a suspected burglar was given jungle justice in the Ikotun suburb of the city on April9. The police said the suspect had attempted to rob one Mrs. Adeyemi Opeyemi when he was intercepted by residents and lynched.

“The alleged burglar was said to have gained entry into Opeyemi’s room at No 2, Asalu Bus Stop, off Abaranje Road, Ikotun in an attempt to rob her, but she raised the alarm and the burglar (suspect) escaped into the street where some members of the community apprehended and beat him to death,” police spokesman Olumuyiwa Adejobi said in a statement.

Barely three days after, three suspected bandits were killed by a mob in Magamar Jibia town in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State.

The incident occurred at about 11:25 pm when the unidentified gunmen invaded the community on Sunday April 11 and entered the residence of an unidentified villager, who raised the alarm.

The alarm attracted the residents who quickly mobilised and confronted the suspected bandits

READ ALSO: IGP expresses worry over jungle justice, vows to end barbaric act, deal with perpetrators

“I saw the corpses of two of the suspected bandits burnt beyond recognition and dumped at the Magama junction, but the third person, who was said to be in army uniform, was said to have been taken away by policemen,” a resident reportedly said.

In the heart of Lagos Island, precisely at Sura area of Tapa, irate residents caught two suspected kidnappers on December 16, 2020 and set them ablaze.

The two suspects were said to have broken into the apartment of one Mrs. Makanjuola at Freeman Street and attempted to kidnap her baby. The suspects allegedly bolted when they sensed danger, but a mob caught up with them a few metres away and killed one of them.

It however turned out that one of the suspects was a policeman attached to a nearby police division in the neighbourhood.

Arrest of jungle judges

A number of arrests has been made lately by police authorities in Lagos to curb the growing trend of lynching. For example, three community leaders were recently arrested on the orders of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu. The police accused the community leaders of complicity in the killing of the suspected burglar in the Ikotun area of Lagos.

The Police spokesperson in the state, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said in a statement that the community leaders were held for questioning on the role they played in the killing of the suspected burglar. According to him, “the burglar had allegedly gained entry into the room of Mrs. Opeyemi of No 2, Asalu Bus Stop, off Abaranje Road, Ikotun in an attempt to rob her, but she raised the alarm and the burglar escaped into the street, where some members of the community apprehended and beat him to death.”

Adejobi added: “The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has condemned the act of jungle justice meted out to the suspect.

“He has vowed to kick against such as it is becoming rampant and such is inimical to our collective efforts to improve on the criminal justice system of Lagos State.”

In the same vein, the killing of a suspected kidnapper on Lagos Island resulted in the arrest of the purported victim, Mrs. Munirat Makanjuola, by operatives of the Lagos State Police Command. Makanjuola was, however, released two months after, following a no-case submission made by the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).

Similarly, no fewer than 30 persons were arrested in 2017 for their alleged involvement in the lynching of some suspected ritual killers on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.

Parading the suspects, the then Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, said the mob also injured some policemen who tried to prevent them from carrying out the act.

Owoseni said: “We want to use this opportunity to warn that the police and other security agencies will not fold their arms and watch people carry out jungle justice on people who may be innocent.

KUNLE AKINRINADE

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