Jungle justice or mob justice is a form of extrajudicial killing which has gained ground in Cross River State over the past few years.
Hitherto unknown, it’s popularity has grown across the State and now poses a medico-legal and social challenge in the State as it is the highest of man’s inhumanity to man.
The actio whereby a mob or any group of persons take laws into their hands in order to achieve actions like scouring, stripping, deriding and killing of an accused person, shows a medico-legal and social challenge as perpetrators of this crime leave most of their victims dead and in rare cases injured which calls for immediate medical attention.
The mob always forgets the legal violation of the right of that human whilst meting out jungle justice. The act of inhumanity and lack of fairness sees the mob taking State power and becoming accusers, judge, jury and executioner with the use of almost all kinds of things from stones to wood, nails, clobs, guns, hands, legs, tires and ultimately, fire. The victims are always denied fair trial and the right to life which violates human rights.
Man’s inhumanity to man or as its widely know jungle justice is perceived to have found it roots into the 21st century as a result of lack of trust in the legal and security authorities as they cannot properly handle suspects.
Jungle justice also has other factors like poverty, complex, illiteracy, unemployment etc as risk factors to trigger it in Cross River State. Therefore, eliminating it requires a concerted effort of the government, civil society organisations and industries. No wonder (Wright 1997) stressed that the value of its eradication lies in informing citizens and the subsequent creation of a justice system that properly handles crime and a more peaceful society.
In Cross River State, Jungle justice occurs mostly in cases of suspected theft /armed robbery or social discrimination. In Obudu for instance traces of it happening for reasons of social discrimination is liken to that of the first two who were burnt along Uquart street in December 2016. They had a case of theft and where taken to the police station detained and after that a mob went up to the station threatened to burn it down if those two were not released to them to be burnt. This was not because they were the first thieves to be caught in Obudu, it was simply because they came from the neighboring State, Benue.
In the case of the recent incident which involved a lady being accused of conspiring in motorcycle theft, she had no relatives to speak for her, that was why she was stripped, beaten and burnt. She was a stranger too. In Cross River at large, reports by www.crossriverwatch.com shows that an estimated 24 people were reportedly burnt across the State between 2014-2018 whilst an addition of the unreported ones may put the figure higher.
The rise of crime rates due to gang wars, theft and armed robbery is perceived to have overwhelmed the law enforcement agencies resulting in the public taking laws into their hands.
Jungle justice is a fast growing challenge and has claimed the lives of many young men and women likewise scaring and threatening the sociopolitical and sociocultural health and wellbeing of our dear State.
This trend of Man’s inhumanity to man constitutes a medico-legal and social challenge in Cross River State and needs immediate attention. Addressing it will require the tackling of root causes like poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and lack of sensitisation programs on the gravity of the crime. When this is done, it will definitely go a long way to reduce the rate of jungle justice in our country’s pride, Cross River State.
Ikwen Atuaka, a journalist and poet, writes from Obudu.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are solely attributable to the author, Ikwen Atuaka and do not in anyway represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organisation the author works for/with.
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