Walking through the lonely path that led to the ravine we usually threw trash into, I registered my disgust at the abandoned site.
Litters of rotting wastes here and there made it difficult to navigate.
Nevertheless, I managed to find a spot free of excreta.
Holding my breath and with my lips sealed I emptied the trash at the spot and withdrew.
“Damn the local chairmen who only show up at political campaigns and disappear afterward. Year after year nothing ever changes. Look how disgusting this place is!”
I was still venting when I heard it
“Hol’ am, hol’ am I don catch am today“
I looked behind me to see if there was someone I should help apprehend. There was none.
In the twinkling of an eye, four body-abled men had surrounded me. And before I could ask what was going on they had started throwing punches at my little body.
“Thief!” They yelled, punching and kicking
“Oga you’re mistaking me for someone o”, I got punched in the stomach. “I went to empty dustbin for my momsi“. I got kicked in the head. “Watin I do na?!” I yelled in confusion pointing to the brown sack bag I came with. More kicks and blows.
Soon I was facing the sky as my legs and arms were lifted by these four men who carried me out of the ravine
I tried to wriggle myself out but couldn’t. Then unexpectedly they threw me to the ground, shouting “We don catch am oo!”
Suddenly angry-looking people started appearing. In a blink, it turned into a crowd.
“Oga it’s not me o, I don’t know what you people are talking about; please I’m not a thief, I only go throway dustbin “.
My reply seemed to have made one of the men angrier as he punch me even harder,
Soon he started asking for fuel, tyres, and matches.
That’s when it dawned on me that I was about to be murdered!
“Oh no, something must be done” I panicked. I scanned the crowd and saw a few familiar faces.
I struggled amidst the beating towards Mama Chidera who happens to be my mother’s customer
“Mummy Chidera they want to burn me, I didn’t do anything, mummy don’t let them burn me“. I said bitterly. But Mama Chidera just shook her head and walked away.
Then I reached out to Ekanem, who has been my friend since childhood, telling her not to allow me to burn. She couldn’t save the situation. The crowd and angry men were hellbent on taking my life.
Seeing the escalating situation a man dragged Ekanem away from me, as one of the men beating me proceeded to rip off my clothes, put a huge tyre on my neck, and poured fuel on my bare skin.
I struggled, shouted, and bit him, but all to no avail. His grip was firm like cuffs.
I was naked and bruised with fuel all over me. The fuel felt like ice water, and the tire weighed down on me. My head was bowed in defeat.
Then I heard my mom’s voice
I raised my head and seeing her I regained strength and pushed past the men running towards her. She was rolling on the ground… on a seven-months-old pregnancy. I held her
“Mommy I didn’t do it I swear!”
“I know my son, I know” she said with tears in her eyes
The four men came to where I was and attempted to drag me, my mom struggled to set me free, using her whole strength. She kicked, slapped, and bit them
But it was too late as the men recruited more men to yank me away from her. In the process, she fell on her stomach and began writhing in pain.
“These small small boys na dem dey thief well well! burn am make others see repent!” said Poison who was the street lord; nobody ever challenged him, not even the elderly men.
Andem, Ekong and Joshua, who were well-known cultists, were his supporters who encouraged the movement to burn me
I turned left and saw Wobase who returned from a failed arm robbery operation which had left him with half a leg jeering at my predicament.
Then a little boy emerged from the crowd with a lighter and gave it to Poison.
Poison didn’t hesitate; he sparked the lighter and I was ablaze.
I ran mad with fear and pain.
My mom ran to where I was, loosened her wrapper, and covered me, trying to quench the flames. It didn’t help as her lace fabric caught fire…
Poison pushed her to the ground kicking her in her stomach.
Everyone else was watching. Some were shocked, others gyrating.
I was panicking
Engulfed with flames, I was burning and I could perceive my roasting skin
Soon there was no skin
My eyes red as scarlet, blood and water gushing out of my demis, I knew I was about to transcend.
The pain intensified until a calm feeling enraptured me in the middle of the fire as my vision went from blurry to dark.
I was dead.
“Wait, wait, wait, no be am o! Una don the wrong person“…
What Is Street Justice (In Nigeria)?
Jungle justice (or street justice) is a form of local execution or homicide where a suspect is accused, beaten, or humiliated and finally set ablaze in public by an angry mob.
In places where insecurity is on the high rise, with no adequate government intervention, locals usually arrange for vigilante groups.
The issue is, that sometimes when the vigilante groups get a suspect Laws are taken into their hands as they execute the criminal publicly. Though in some cases random individuals also gang up and execute a suspect.
There are several reasons jungle justice persists, some including
- understaffing of the Police force which makes it hard to quickly respond to such reports of a suspect being apprehended
- Corruption on the part of the Police who take bribes and set criminals free
- The desire to make a spectacle – to set an example
- Lust for blood
Sadly, sometimes these suspects are innocent of the alleged crime (just like in the fictional story above).
Besides, innocent or not, Jungle Justice is inhumane. Homicide is a grave evil and anyone who executes it has their hands tainted
Giving people the chance to explain themselves is such a great virtue because the story you just read could be someone’s – maybe in a slightly, less dramatic, or different context.
Let me know what you think in the Comments section
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A Freelance writer who loves sharing her ideas and life experiences using relatable true-life and fictional stories.