Jungle justice: It’s time to end it

Jungle justice is a thing. It is certainly a thing in Nigeria and the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa make one wonder the number of African countries in which jungle justice exists. The disturbing fact about jungle justice, in Nigeria is that it happens so often and there are little or no legal consequences.

In Nigeria, the most common method of carrying out jungle justice is to put a tire on a suspect’s neck, then pour kerosene or some inflammable fluid of that sort on the person and then light a match. The individual then burns alive, in the presence  of the perpetrators and onlookers and when the scenario is over, life goes on. Stating the word “suspect” is actually flawed because the person who is killed is not being seen or treated as a suspect but as a criminal. In a country with a Constitution and with laws, it is quite outraging that anyone can go on the streets and automatically take on the role of judge, jury and executioner. It certainly feels awkward referring to such acts with the word – justice, although it follows the word “jungle”. However, jungle justice is what such acts are indeed referred to.

Barbaric is the word for this sort of so-called justice. Anyone can be the victim. Innocent people could become victimized just based on an accusation. Imagine that some people are burnt to death over crimes which will certainly not demand an execution sentence at a court of law. So, why is jungle justice still a thing? Why are the perpetrators allowed to walk around as free people?

It is about time that Nigeria and other countries in which such acts of inhumane judgement are practised, enact laws that make  them (the acts) punishable. Jungle justice is unfair, callous and wicked – and this is not what justice is about. Justice is about due process – looking at the facts and asking thorough questions – before a verdict is made. It is time for a change and people need to be taught that such acts of inhumanity to a fellow person are intolerable and not in any way in conformity with being or becoming a just society.

Question: What are some other jungle justice practices that you have heard about and where did they occur? I would love to hear from you.



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