Nigeria: The Shame of a Nation!

The recent barbaric, brutal and gruesome ‘murder’ of 4 University of Port Harcourt students in Nigeria has left majority of Nigerians in shock and dismay. Attached is a video excerpt of the incident. Readers’ discretion is strongly advised, as some of the actions therein are very upsetting, and in some cases too gruesome.http://www.naijaurban.com/video-of-the-4-uniport-students-burnt-alive-for-stealling-phones-and-laptops/  

The incident has been roundly condemned, but it brings to the fore, the nagging questions of: the quality of justice; the level of trust and (dis)belief in the justice system; what the police should be doing and how communities should collectively deal with such outbursts of irrational emotions. As one commentator rightly stated, the genocide in Rwanda started with such piecemeal actions, before it spiralled into a national conflagration.

 The blame must be laid squarely at the door steps of the police. The incident lasted for hours. Where was the police? Agreed the actions of the mob – very few of them if you watch the video clip -were evilly motivated, the intervention of the police would have saved the lives of the students. I don’t buy into the idea of lack of equipment, logistics et al, this was a clear case of a vengenful group of people prepared to take the law into their own hands.

The response of the police was not only shoddy, it was unprofessional, but typical. It shows why the average Nigerian remain lukewarm, unfriendly and hostile to the police. That said, it does not excuse the stone age response of the mob, resorting to jungle justice or self help. Nigerians are increasingly resorting to self-help. I blogged recently about this growing and strange phenomenon. Read here http://wrongfulconvictionsblog.org/2012/06/29/nigeria-trading-justice-for-self-help/    

We can only hope that this incident will be investigated by the authorities and they should get to the bottom of the immediate and remote causes of the Port Harcourt incident. A larger remit of the enquiry should seek to understand why Nigerians look down and undermine the police; the nature of the Nigerian police as an institution, its structure and effectiveness. And of course, a conversation about the latest weasel words - the desireability of state or community police. Above all, the perpetrators must be found and made an example of!

2 responses to “Nigeria: The Shame of a Nation!

  1. Daniel I disagree with you that the blame should go to the police. You are looking at a society that has internally disintegrated; the video (which I cannot watch) is evidence enough. The reason why genocides do not happen daily is not because the police are patrolling – there is no nation that has enough police resources to prevent the occurrence of crime. It is not because there is no hatred either – I think hatred would show up uninvited wherever 3 human beings are gathered.
    The question to Aluu where this lynching happened is not “where was the police”, but it is “what happened to the humanity of the mob”; what happen to internal system of coherence that they had such as community leaders, religious leaders and even gang leaders – if all these ‘institutions’ were absent, then by what authority and under what banner did the mob generate itself? If the Police mattered and they were afraid, they could still kill these 4 students in seconds and the Police would still not be able to save them. The only thing that would have spared these victims would have been someone to challenge…
    What my mind is still unable to grasp is how young people stand with mobile phones making records of this grim event as though it was some sporting tournament they participate in daily. When it was done, they logged into Facebook, uploaded images and tagged friends and went home. I know of no human tragedy that the perpetrators were this comfortable in doing evil and broadcasting it – in Aluu it was not a mob that had been organized on some ‘coherent’ argument as the Rwandans or even the Nazis. These are regular street folks who might now be back to school or to work.
    There must be something wrong with their ‘humanity’ – or maybe something is wrong with mine. Wherever the problem lies, it is NOT something that the police could address.

  2. Nengak, your comments here turns on the wider argument about our ‘humanity’. If we narrow it down to specifics, you will agree – like the Inspector General of Police has done- that, it was the failure of the police to act timeously, professionally, and thence, were negligent. This link, makes the argument more poignantly than I could ever have done. The police stand accused!http://saharareporters.com/news-page/inspector-general-police-admits-police-ran-away-uniport-4-lynching

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