The tragic end of Deborah Samuel, a Level two student of Shehu Shagari College of Education Sokoto who, was gruesomely murdered and burnt in Sokoto for alleged blasphemy recently, has again brought to the front burner the dwindling value attached to the sanctity of the human life and the growing culture of cruelty across the country which should be confronted and stopped by all especially the government.
We totally condemn the barbaric killing of the Christian who, according to report, was dragged out of the institution’s security post by her blood thirsty colleagues where she was hiding, stoned to death and her corpse set ablaze.There abound many other premeditated murders such as Nigerian Army Master Warrant Officer, Linus Audu, and his fiancée in Imo State by gunmen.
Sadly also, we recall the unfortunate lynching of Sunday David Imoh, a sound engineer by commercial motor-cyclists in Lekki, Lagos State after a misunderstanding over N100 change with an okada rider of Northern extraction and the latest incident, the kidnap of Dr. Okechukwu Okoye, lawmaker in the Anambra State House of Assembly. Okoye representing the Aguata North constituency, the same community as the governor of the State, Prof. Charles Soludo was beheaded by his captors weekend.
The untimely deaths of these Nigerians and many others in our view, are not only truly a sad reflection of the worrisome security challenges confronting the country but speak to the apparent slow responses to attacks by law enforcement personnel when such occurred. Otherwise how else can one explain the ease whereby a mob in a public institution in the case of Deborah will perpetuate a heinous crime in broad daylight without any help or rescue coming from any quarter.
But according to psychologists, some of the underlying factors for the rapidly growing culture of cruelty particularly jungle justice and premeditated killings across the country include hate sermons by some Muslim and Christian clerics, lackadaisical attitude of many security personnel to reported crimes, slow wheel and lack of trust in the criminal justice system, ignorance, poverty, moral decadence and religious extremism among others.
In our estimation therefore, these causes are further corroborated by the instructive words of late Frederick Douglass, a prominent African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and elder statesman who argued that: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe”.
These words no doubt aptly captures the prevailing situation in Nigeria today with a record over 10.5million out-of-school children, the poverty capital of the world and where life has become brutish and cheap. This is rather unfortunate and we demand urgent action by both the government and the citizenry.
Therefore, finding lasting solution to the rising tide of culture of impunity and cruelty requires immediate and decisive actions by the society at large beginning with parents, Christian and Muslim clerics, school authorities, and above all the federal, state and local governments.
And since the statutory purpose of government is the welfare of lives and property of citizens, the security agencies must be more alive to their responsibilities by re-dedicating themselves to the cause of safeguarding lives and property as well as ensuring that beyond arrests, perpetrators of all heinous crimes especially murders and jungle justice, are made to face the full wrath of the law while the judiciary is enjoined to further accelerate the wheel of our justice system. Most Nigerians will unlikely embrace lawlessness or self help when they are assured of speedy dispensation of justice.
Such total overhaul has become imperative at this juncture if only to restore waning public confidence in both law enforcement officials and the judiciary regarded as the last hope of the common man where no individual or group is seen to be above the law. Certainly this will send a powerful message to all including criminal elements that it’s no longer business as usual and amplify the point that serious sanctions await any violator of the law.
This is in line with what obtains in other developed climes especially Western democracies where the rule of law is not only very sacrosanct but upheld at all times without fear or favour. Discipline is also strictly enforced to avert any breach of public peace while the basic human needs and social investment schemes are put in place for the good of most citizens.
We further advocate sustained public enlightenment campaign by all levels of government and the mass media against the increasing culture of cruelty, the need to uphold sanctity of human lives, highlighting the consequences of man inhumanity to others as well as the overriding need for citizens to use their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech wisely.
All citizens should be constantly educated against taking laws into their hands whenever ‘criminals’ are caught as experienced had shown that some innocent persons like was the case of citizen Sunday David Imoh, may not have erred but framed up by his attackers the okada riders who according to investigation accused him wrongly for asking for change.
Clerics too, must be warned and even sanctioned by the relevant authorities for making any hate, inflammatory and sometimes venomous sermons which have been identified as some of the remote causes of blasphemy while adherents of all religions should as a matter of urgency, show respect, tolerance and love for others with different beliefs to achieve religious harmony and peaceful coexistence.
We also agree with the submission of some psychologists that ignorance, poverty and lack of moral values constitute major factors contributing to the high moral decadence prevalent in the society which if successfully addressed would greatly restore peace in the country and accelerate socio-economic and technological development. Given the plural nature of our society with multiple ethnicities, languages and religions, the country should be run in accordance with the basic tenets of federalism.
A new Constitution in our view would avail us the opportunity to make fundamental statement on restructuring and restoration of the federal principle and thus redefine the interrelationship between the component units in the country to make the political system work more efficiently for justice, peace and unity reign supreme and possibly put an end to all forms of impunity including the culture of cruelty now spreading like wildfire. Parents and school authorities also, have a crucial role to play in focusing more on moral values to win back the consciences of citizens who see nothing wrong with jungle justice.