Blasphemy, witchcraft: Cases of jungle justice escalate in Nigeria

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In addition to the ruthless bandits, terrorists, and other attackers wreaking havoc around the nation, countless individuals have also perished as a result of what is known as “jungle justice” or extrajudicial killings.

A sort of public extrajudicial killing known as “jungle justice,” which is a horrific tendency prevalent in most African nations, involves an alleged criminal being publicly humiliated, battered, and then slain by a vengeful mob.

Because they frequently happen in isolated regions, many of these occurrences go undetected.

According to the 460play blamable acts have continued across the nation despite condemnation from the appropriate authorities due to various claims, including blasphemy, witchcraft, and thievery.

Concerned by the trend, some stakeholders have requested that President Bola Tinubu’s administration put in place mechanisms to make sure that Nigerians no longer attempt to impose laws on their own.

Blasphemy

Many people, mainly in the Northern region of the country, have met early deaths at the hands of the jungle justice system due to accusations of blasphemy, an act of delivering a profane speech or speaking sacrilegiously against God, prophets, or sacred objects.

A mob made up of his coworkers recently killed one Usman Buda, a well-known butcher at the Sokoto Fish and Vegetable market, also known as Kasuwan Dankure, for suspected blasphemy.

On June 25, Usman Buda, who was conducting his customary business in the market, was attacked by an enraged mob, stoned mercilessly, and killed before being set ablaze for allegedly speaking against the Prophet Mohammed.

Even youngsters took part in the terrible deed, which was captured in a viral video.

There are numerous other areas of the country where this dreadful tendency has been observed.

According to 460play a comparable occurrence happened in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja on April 4, 2022, when a victim named Ahmad Usman was allegedly stoned to death for making a blasphemous remark.

Usman, a 30-year-old resident of Abuja’s Lugbe neighborhood, was stoned to death and set ablaze by a mob for allegedly making obscene remarks about the Prophet Muhammad and Allah.

Deborah Samuel, a female student at the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State, was similarly burned alive on May 12, 2022, by Islamic fanatics on the basis of similar charges.

The 200-level student was burned alive after she allegedly warned her peers not to share religious stuff on their WhatsApp group, which was allegedly put up for educational purposes.

Despite the fact that several people were apprehended by the police in connection with the censurable act, it was claimed that the court had cleared them.

Allegations of witchcraft

Several elderly people who were suspected of being witches have been murdered over the years. These heinous deeds are typically carried out by young people from the neighborhood who blame witches for their bad luck.

When the mob surrounded them, the majority of these elderly people were frequently denied the opportunity to defend themselves.

On April 24, 2023, youths in Benue State’s Ikyve community of Konshisha Local Government Area allegedly committed the witchcraft-related murders of two elderly people by burying them alive.

Witnesses claim that the victims were buried alive after a thunderclap killed Henry Ihwakaa, a peasant, together with his wife and two-week-old infant.

It was discovered that Henry, his wife, and their newborn were killed when thunder struck the village. After the occurrence, two elderly people—Ihwakaa, Henry’s father, and an alleged accomplice—were suspected of being wizards and instigating the thunder.

The same witchcraft accusation led to the burning alive of a woman named Madam Martina Okey Itagbor a few days ago in Cross River State’s Akamkpa Local Government Area.

Several young people from the neighborhood reportedly assembled on June 13, 2023, to travel in a chartered vehicle to the inauguration reception of Hon. Okon Owuna, who represents Akamkpa 1 State Constituency.

Unfortunately, two of the young people who were believed to be intoxicated died immediately after an accident. Others suffered injuries, too.

A day later, some of the young people showed up and dragged Madam Martina to the main road, accusing her of using witchcraft to plan the accident and the deaths of the two young people.

The woman allegedly caught fire after the mob doused her in petrol. She cried out in innocence, yet she was burned alive.

The Cross River State Police Command announced on Tuesday that it has detained 26 people in connection with the tragic homicide.

The command spokesperson, SP Irene Ugbo, released a statement that detailed the arrest and made it available to press reporters in Calabar.

Robbery

In Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State, a man was recently burned to death on June 8 by a crowd who believed he had stolen a motorcycle.

Adah John, an eyewitness and local commercial biker, informed 460play on Saturday that the suspect is accused of killing a commercial motorcyclist at Adoka Street in Otukpo after gaining the upper hand and robbing the victim of a brand-new motorcycle.

“After a few weeks, he was riding his motorcycle through another state when his luck ran out and he was burned to death.

“Those who are familiar with Otukpo well will be aware that we oppose violence. The fact is, people who use a sword to kill should likewise use it to die.

“Jungle justice is actually a terrible idea; I personally oppose it, but if you think about it very carefully, these bad guys are no longer afraid of the police,” the speaker said. They currently only fear jungle justice, he claimed.

A suspect was captured by watchful youngsters on Thursday at Gyado Villa, the capital of Benue State, Makurdi, and was subjected to jungle justice before the authorities got involved.

At a busy junction in Gyado Villa, two people made an attempt to steal a motorcycle from a rider who wasn’t expecting it.

The nearby kid immediately sprung into action and began after the perpetrator after realizing their horrible crime.

Just a few blocks from the crime scene, the bike thief was apprehended with the assistance of other bystanders. The uprising youth made the decision to take matters into their own hands after becoming angered by the development and the increase in such illegal acts in the neighborhood.

The state police public relations officer, DSP Catherine Sewuese, told 460play that the suspect is undergoing treated in detention despite having allegedly suffered life-threatening injuries.

The PPRO claims that when the command was told of the development, the suspect was not far from his grave.

She claimed that when the suspect was ready to be set on fire, command agents were dispatched to the location.

The PPRO responded, “On multiple times, I have gone on radio stations and Television stations teaching the people on the hazards of jungle justice.

“We have been educating the public about the dangers of using the law against themselves for a very long time. It’s not the first time we’ve had a situation like this.

The offenders are frequently detained and even brought to justice to act as a deterrent to others.

She bemoaned the fact that these occurrences occasionally take place in extremely remote locations where travel is practically impossible.

Dr. Christopher Ejeh, a psychologist affiliated with Benue State University, claims that the causes of jungle justice in the nation include illiteracy and poverty.

He clarified that “poverty is a major factor in the decision to label old people as witches and wizards. When young people in a community are struggling, they start to wonder what is causing their issues.

“At this point, they begin to mistrust elderly folks. Consequently, old age, which ought to be a blessing, becomes a challenge. They’ll keep harboring the mistrust up until it becomes so strong that they have to take the law into their own hands and slay the alleged witch.

But does killing them actually address their problems? No! They have only been successful in misdirecting their resentment.

The majority of those responsible for this evil are illiterate. They undoubtedly lead a quiet life. They don’t have a formal education, thus they keep coming up with outdated solutions to problems.

“This government should take this issue seriously and prioritize providing a good living for rural residents. They require social facilities that will benefit their business and all of their income sources.

Meanwhile, Elder Ben Okezie, a security columnist, noted that unless there is a legislation outlining severe penalties for violators, jungle justice may remain in the nation.

He urged the 10th National Assembly and the Federal Government to swiftly pass a law to stop the deplorable trend.

“This is a matter of law,” he declared, “and there need to be a statute that specifies severe punishment, like life in jail, for individuals who are proved guilty.

“Once some criminals are sentenced to life in jail, others will view the crime as a serious problem and flee from it.

“The police have a part to play in this case, too. When someone or a group is discovered, legal action should be taken right away. This is not a place where there are no laws and everyone serves as a judge. Nigeria ought to have advanced beyond the use of jungle justice.

“These extrajudicial assassinations used to even involve the police, but thank God for EndSARS. It has undoubtedly decreased. But to completely halt it, we still need the legislation.

“This relates to what we have been saying, as always. Without state police, the nation currently could not survive. Many things will change once control over the police is decentralized and given to the governor and state lawmakers.

“Many nations, notably Britain, which is credited with bringing civilisation to this country, rely on the state police to address security issues.

“Members of one community or another are responsible for these crimes. When you have state police, the officers will be locals who have grown up in the area. They are aware of your name and your grandfather, therefore this indicates. You are unable to escape from them.

But there will always be issues when those in Abuja are dictating what should go place in Ebonyi state.

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