Mob justice is a symbol of a dysfunctional society where the state has lost control of its populace and the instruments of law and order are ineffectual; making individuals take the laws into their hands.
In recent years especially in most parts of Africa and Cameroon at large, the fastest way to administer justice was to create a militia group made of up vigilant young men charged with providing law and order, protecting their communities against crime where the forces of law and order failed or remained indifferent. These militia groups are swift in administering justice... most often people caught are beaten within an inch of their lives and left for death or beaten to death. Just a few years ago, there was a global outcry and condemnation of mob lynching of four students in Nigeria, who were later found to be innocent. These incidents are not limited to Nigeria as the practice is very much alive in Cameroon especially in some of our big towns like Douala, Yaounde, and Bamenda. There is usually euphoria in the air when a thief is caught. It is like people wait in expectation for that cry to unleash their anger and frustrations on the unsuspecting victim which has unfortunately resulted in one too many an untimely death of an innocent bystander caught in the confusion of an angry mob who have lost all sense of reason as their singular intent at that moment is to split blood. They come charging and raging like mad bulls lured by the smell of blood to create havoc to any who dared be on their path.
Which begs the question is jungle or mop justice the solution to crime control in a failed system? Some while not directly applauding this form of justice indirectly look for ways to justify it. For example, the mop justice I nearly witnessed happened in front of a colleague and I. Upon asking why the angry people couldn’t wait for the police and the possibility of beating an innocent person to death as is often the case, my colleague came with this rejoinder; ‘What could the police do? They would take the thief away and one or two things would happen the person would be free to go; back in the streets tormenting and terrorizing people.’ When I responded that still doesn’t give people the license to burn anyone alive, my colleague said and I quote; ‘ If tif man nova press you, you no go understand’. Loosely translated as if you have never been a victim of thieves, you can never understand.
This is the sentiment shared by many people. They are against jungle justice but weary of the prevalence of crime, killings and the noticeable indifference of the powers that be to do anything which has prompted the common man to take matters into their hands resulting in incidents like what we have been seeing recently circulating Social Media.
There is a need to do something and fast too if we do not want to see more alleged garri stealers die or many innocent people dying because they found themselves at the wrong place and wrong time.
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ARREY E. AGBOR-NDAKAW.