Nigeria: Trading Justice for ‘Self Help’

Dispensing ‘jungle justice’ is a sign of the times in Nigeria. Truth be told, the Nigerian justice system is not only broken, it has completely failed, thence, the resort to self help. As BBC Andrew Walker’s report highlights, the activities of vigilante group who have completely taken over neigbouhood policing, is worrisome. It’s evidently the clearest indication yet, that it is everyman for himself and God for us all. The Hobbesian state. How did Nigeria get to this sorry state?

Ordinary people have completely lost faith in the police and the judicial system to help them seek justice. Despite the understandable constraints under which the police work, that is no excuse for bad policing, extortion of money, bribery and corruption, which seems to be the hallmark of how the ordinary Nigerian views the police and the outright failure to carry out their statutory duties. On the other hand, the ineffective judiciary is plagued with its own malaise of court delays, needless and endless adjournments, deliberate obfuscation of the court processes by lawyers who manipulate the rules of court with a view to ‘extorting’ money from clients, just to prolong cases unnecessarily - bad lawyering. And they find willing accomplices ‘sometimes’ from the bench. In the result, Nigerian citizens are left to their own mercies and fate. Do you really blame them when they now resort to jungle justice? Read Andrew Walker’s report here.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8021468.stm

The Nigerian state must find a way to redress this. Most of the institutions connected with the administration of justice should be re-jigged, particularly, the police and judiciary. Leaving this essential reform to international development agencies like DfID, is surely, but a stop gap measure.  They can only compliment the efforts of  government, not as a substitute for government implementing reforms.

‘Self-help’ undermines justice, due process and human rights of victims – however justified the vigilantes are. The likelihood of lumping and lynching an innocent person, by a vigilante ‘mob’, in a situation where there are no defined rules, processes and procedures, is very high. Innocent people have been known to have been killed.

One response to “Nigeria: Trading Justice for ‘Self Help’

  1. Pingback: Nigeria: The Shame of a Nation! | Wrongful Convictions Blog

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