Jungle justice: A well-deserved punishment?

A couple of weeks ago, a thief was sighted at D block in ABH. He was caught and interrogated, but not without some beating and thumping. The Preclinical Press decided to ask some preclinical students what they feel about the situation and their thoughts on mob action.

“I don’t know the specifics; I only saw the headline and considering the latest developments with jungle justice in the country, I surmised it’s one of those cases. I understand the outrage of the people and what may have led to the beating, I don’t support it, however. This time, the thief was caught. Maybe tomorrow, they’ll be right again, but one can’t help but question how sustainable it is. They could have picked the wrong guy, beaten him before he gets a chance to give an explanation or absolve himself.”
Ibikunle Jamiu

“Can’t say because I’ve not been in that position before. I don’t know what I’d do if I caught a thief plus some of them might have been victims of theft before.”
Olayiwola Olaitan

“I, for one, have never liked the idea of jungle justice. It’s never okay to take laws into one’s hands and lynch a criminal. I understand that emotions may be high and people have this “an eye for an eye” ideology that might deter others from committing such crimes in the future but it never sits well with me. There should be security agencies put in place in every society and perpetrators of theft or other crimes should be taken to such agencies. This, I believe, is civil and is the best way to go about such matters.”
Ijezie Ifeanyi Collins

Ideally, I’m not a fan of mob action of that sort. The best thing would be to hand offenders to policemen or other security officers. But in reality, it’s the only deterrent that might actually work. From boarding school, I’ve seen how people become less likely to steal knowing they would be caught by other students as opposed to whatever punishment the school might serve. Some guys would legit choose suspension over mob action because, omo! People are brutal. The issue lies with how far is really too far. Mobs often spiral out of control of the initial crowd. People die. Arson occurs. Fights break out. So who gets to determine when it’s really ‘enough’?”
John Eriomala

“I’m not in support of mob action. I don’t think it is the masses’ right to take the law into their hands by punishing criminals. A lot of mob action has led to punishing ‘falsely alleged’ criminals. Perhaps if action is taken through the right channel, such will not happen. Moreso, the masses will even most likely be extreme in punishing the offenders.”
Ademola Khadijah

“I am honestly not a fan of jungle justice. I understand that at that point emotions are high and all they want to do is beat up a thief. However, one has to learn control. The moment a thief is caught, the person should be handed over to the appropriate authorities for discipline and not taking laws into one’s hands. Take for instance, the thief kicks the bucket in the beating process, lol, at that point the ones that took laws into their hands, especially in a place where they can be tracked down have entered trouble. I’m sure you know the punishment for taking someone’s life. So, no, I am not okay with it. Hand the thief over to appropriate authorities for punishment.”
Felicia Ojo

“I feel mob action is not right, a thief should be taken to the appropriate authorities once caught instead of beating them up. We shouldn’t be passing judgement ourselves in Ideal situations. But this is Nigeria, with the peculiarities of our police force and all, we tend to take laws into our hands.”
Ogochukwu Ezeigbo

“Well, you can’t definitely say if one is wrong or right by acting out of emotion to the same people that provoked one. When someone really gets you angry, it’s really hard not to retaliate back. So, a mob beating thieves for stealing something, probably something that’s valuable to someone is sometimes a way of tempering justice with no mercy. Generally, people are frustrated, angry and sad, and wearing a white ward coat doesn’t mean you don’t also have the stain on you. Nigerians are generally frustrated about almost everything about this country. I’m saying this because you have to know why people act the way they do regardless of their professional training or how highly cultured you expected them to behave before you judge them. Even in good countries, medical schools are where you’ll experience the most frustration and depression from a peaceful life. Therefore, if we want the mob to stop beating thieves or perhaps, to make thieves have no excuse to steal, the government should provide solid security and also make our economy better. Believe me, this is the sinoatrial node of all the problems we have in this country and it transfers the impulses to everyone in all sectors. However, the security of students in ABH should be upgraded and made to extend a little bit outside all exits in UCH. Without these, youths are going to continue beating thieves and giving them energy drinks just to beat them again and again, if they don’t lynch them eventually. Similarly, doctors and med students will beat thieves and find themselves treating the same thieves at the hospital the following day, if they don’t end up in the morgue. Finally, I repeat, we’re all frustrated about this country, almost everyone is, in one way or the other, and some people are finding who or where to transfer the aggression to. It’s only a student that his/her gadget or invaluable property had never been stolen, perhaps a few days to his/her exam that he/she would not have that avenging spirit to hit any thief when caught. Thank you.”

Although most of the respondents did not approve of mob action they gave valid reasons why it persists in our society; lack of effective legislative, executive and security systems. The university needs to improve the security around the main campus and ABH and also provide efficient and apparent prosecution of transgressors to dissuade thieves from striking and students from beating them up when caught. At the same time, students need to be security conscious as some of these occurrences can be prevented by basic security precautions like locking of doors, keeping valuables properly etc.

Idris Oladosu and Abdulbasit Oyetunji

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