I was talking to someone on WhatsApp the other day and she was complaining or rather saying she was appalled by the rate of mob actions in Nigeria. As a lot of people are lynched or beaten by mobs when perceived to have committed a crime without giving that person the chance to a fair trial.
In Nigeria today, hardly a week goes by without a case of mob action not reported and someone is either burnt to death by an angry mob or beaten up when caught stealing, molesting or sometimes even an automobile accident where both parties are involved. Nigeria is a place where you are driving on an expressway, there is a bridge for pedestrians to pass yet some people decide to cross the road and if they are hit by a car who was not expecting a human being to cross the road, the driver is adjudged the culprit.
At that moment, the driver is in trouble as there is a huge possibility that he can be beaten up if the people “thinks” he is trying to get away or did not stop fast enough forgetting that the pedestrian is not supposed to have crossed the road in the first instance.
This problem of the mob carrying out justice stems not from Nigerians not having faith in the justice system as a lot of people will like to say as they say “If we hand him over to the police, they will collect a bribe and release him” but because Nigeria is a nation where her people have a punishing mentality and not rehabilitation
The above is the real reason we are all too quick to jump to a frenzy and burn down armed robbers. I have witnessed this before where two thieves were caught and they were burnt. People donated petrol and stuff. Guess what, it was a time where petrol was actually scare!!! Oh, and I was 8
From young, Nigerian have been taught to believe that punishing people is the only way to get closure for yourself and also get justice. It is a way to make yourself feel better about yourself in short, it is you taking revenge for what that person has done and not about making the person see his/her mistake and helping the person become a better person and be a useful member of the community.
It is this same punishing mentality that makes a husband decide to deny his wife “allowance” or decide to ignore her and not eat food cooked by her because she did something that he adjudged to be wrong. It is the same spirit that makes the wife deny the husband séx or deny choose to ignore him around the house
It is the same mentality that makes a mother beat her kids to a point where the children feel like they are being tortured because they did something wrong instead of molding them. Hell, it goes down to beating the dogs, cats and even the barnyard animals(amazing right?)
It is the same reason teachers will rather beat every student in a class because some were making noise and he/she could not find out the trouble makers.
As a Nigerian, ask yourself how many times your parent(s) have punished you for something they suspected you did and even though they don’t have enough they don’t have enough proof that you are guilty still whip that backside of yours. They might not even be totally sure you did it too but because they believe in punishing you, you are flogged.
Count the number of times Nigerians “Punish” people to the number of times they try to rehabilitate them and make your decision. We do not believe that our justice system works not that we don’t believe the justice system is flawed. We believe it cannot change people and the only form of justice that works is punishment and so we will rather do things by ourselves.
There was a news report that some Terrorist suspects were being released and people kicked against it as they said they should all be killed/or at most not released eaely even though there was not one shred of evidence to prove they were terrorists. Nigerians don’t care that those people might even be victims of terrorism they just want someone to be punished for what Boko Haram has been doing and that is the only way they can get closure. Do I blamed us? We were brought up like this, it is who we are but we can also try to break out and be better.
From our dealings with friends, in relationships, in business, we should try the option of talking to people, help them see their faults, try to make then better and not be quick to punish them but can we really do that? Can we rise above our own programming to always seek revenge and not correction?
I pray we do as “An eye for an eye only creates a community of blind people”