“I write because I have something to say; it’s therapeutic and fiction is a safe medium, and this particular story was written, because I had an encounter with an orphanage…” Olamide Babatunde It’s not every day one comes across a governor’s wife writing a book, yet Hadiza Isma El-Rufai does change that, and a lot…
Have you ever suffered a mob attack? Well, I have and I don’t wish the experience on anyone else, not even an enemy. My first encounter with a mob was during the 2012 fuel protest. I was then deputy editor, news and had to be at my desk for the production of Daily Sun in spite of the protest. It was the first day and the roads were barricaded by angry citizens. I had picked up a colleague, Sina Ayekoti near the Old Toll Gate end of the Lagos-Abeokuta Road after leaving home in Sango-Ota for the journey to office in Kirikiri Industrial Layout. We were just before Mosalasi Bus Stop when a huge crowd emerged on our path. They soon swarmed around my car, hitting it with all imaginable weapons. I tried to be calm and kept explaining that as journalists we had to be in office.
The fact that my car had The Sun logo conferred no advantage. Some wanted us to go, others sat on the car bonnet and threatened to set the car ablaze if we moved an inch. Suddenly, a guy smashed a bottle on the car windscreen, shattering it and moving on as if he had performed a heroic act. We were helpless, in danger and I was really scared. It was by God’s grace that we got to the office that day alive.
My other experience was just a few months back and even closer home. I usually close late and arrive home in the night, a routine that has characterized my almost three decade practice as a journalist. I normally drive through a community before getting to mine. Robbers raided that community thrice and the residents decided to keep vigil to stop further attacks. I met the vigilantes the first night. They were civil. We chatted and I promised to give them money for kola the next day. I met a different group the following night. Many of them were intoxicated and very unfriendly. I was ordered to wind down my window glass and alight from the car. I was hesitant and one was already making attempt to pull me out of the car. They would not listen to explanations that my house is just two streets away and that I had lived in the next community for more than 10 years. I wasn’t even allowed to call home. As with any mob, while a set sued for caution another bayed for blood. My saving grace was that an elderly man who spoke with me the previous night just came on the rowdy scene. He cautioned that they were not supposed to be harassing landlords returning home from work. He told the unruly among them that I had explained the previous night that I worked as a journalist and always returned home late. The next day I reported my ordeal to the leaders in that community. I learnt that several others returning home from work suffered same fate. The vigil was discontinued immediately.
Others also have similar mob attack experiences. A man narrated how a guy alleged to be a robber was to be given the jungle justice in his community. He intervened, pleading that they should give the guy the opportunity of defending himself before being lynched.
The mob descended on the man, accusing him of being an accomplice. He was beaten up and made to sit by the alleged robber, waiting tfor the end. He was saved when a landlord emerged and protested vehemently, that the man accused of being an accomplice lived in the community. Then sanity prevailed. Even the alleged robber who had been badly injured was asked to speak. It turned out that he was an artisan who came with his colleagues to work in a building in the area. He went out in the night to buy food and was accosted by vigilantes. He would have been unjustly killed.
Those who survived mob attacks are lucky. Many citizens have died undeservedly. They lost their lives for offences they didn‘t commit. It‘s sad and most unfortunate. And it‘s abosolutely wrong to kill an innocent fellow.
The frenzy in Lagos throughout last week was the discovery of alleged ritual killers in a den in Ijaiye-Ojokoro area. The initial story was that a certain street sweeper heard a woman shout for help. Some people alleged to be ritualists who dragged the woman into their underground den were caught by a mob. Two of the suspects were lynched and four arrested by the police. Nothing is heard about the woman whose cry started the mob action. The street sweeper also remains anonymous till date. Suddenly, all culverts and sinkholes in Lagos have turned ritualists’ den and other suspects are being put to death after being found in the vicinity of the so-called ritualists, enclaves. Some policemen who attempted to stop the mobs from killing their victims also got injured.
Mob killings, are more like a perennial ritual in our society. Anytime this season of insanity recurs, many innocent citizens get killed. The most disturbing dimension for me is that a category of vulnerable citizens is being targeted by the mob for jungle justice.
The destitute and mentally ill who roam the streets are being hunted and killed. After being abandoned to their fate by the society, these citizens take shelter in places where all of us who still have our faculties intact would never stay, let alone sleep in for a minute.
Culverts, road medians, dilapidated fences and abandoned buildings. Some of those places that serve as homes for these helpless citizens are now being proclaimed den of ritualists and anyone found lurking around gets instant jungle justice. And what would you find in a spot inhabited by a lunatic? Disused shoes, slippers, clothes and such other items. To the irate mob, anyone found in such a spot with these items around him is a ritualist. The mob mentality is that the items belong to those killed by the ritualists pretending to be lunatic or destitute.
And if you were familiar with the ritualists’ saga over the years, none is complete without the mob accusing each victim of being caught with the latest i-phone. No one has ever seen the phone however. Can a lunatic answer questions coherently? They take that to mean that he has confessed to being a ritualist and pronto, he is beaten mercilessly and then set ablaze. Something is wrong. Are we now being ruled by irate mobs?
The resort to self-help by ordinary citizens is an indication of loss of confidence in the ability of the law enforcement agencies to ensure security of lives and property. The latest onslaught against the destitute branded ritualists is the aftermath of Badoo cult killings, which riddle government had failed to crack for over a year.
But it makes no sense at all if in the process of preventing kidnapping and killing by ritualists the best the citizens could do is hunt and set ablaze helpless destitute and lunatics. Government has a responsibility to halt this slide into the jungle.
Even animals don‘t kill their own like we‘re beating to a coma and setting ablaze fellow citizens who have not been tried and found guilty by the court of law. Jungle justice must stop.
Re: Nigerian children on sale on our watch
…When you see all these things, you know that he (JESUS) is near, at the very gates. Matthew 24:33. This and other unusuals are the signs of second coming of Jesus. –Afolabi Eludini, Ajah, Lagos.
Thanks Mr. Oladeinde for again holding the mirror for us Nigerians to see ourselves in our true state. Pure criminality, extreme wickedness, debased morality, impunity of the highest order, security and law enforcement mediocrity, terrible justice system and derailed religious leadership. Above all, total lack of fear or reference for God. Animals care for each other than Nigerians care about their fellow citizens. I’m a Christian finding it increasingly difficult to pray for Nigeria because we have refused to do what God has given us the capacity to do, but continue to pray as if we can mock God. –Prof. Shola Kolawole, Abuja.
Abdulfatah, this country needs God’s intervention to cleanse her of inhuman acts in all areas of human survival on earth. All countries of the world have their economic problems but how many of them engage in commercialising children’s lives for whatever reasons; even in Africa? True that the leadership in Nigeria, for many years, has consistently failed in its duty to douse economic problems confronting the citizenry but engaged in looting of the means needed to improve the lots of Nigerians. That however does not confer rights of criminal and inhuman acts on people; for their survival. This reminds me of the story of a young graduate who could not secure a job years after her graduation. Rather than going into criminal acts, like some in her class, she humbled herself to learn tailoring and now she has a successful outfit in fashion design. I gave her a pseudo name “humility” which she is called by a few people who are privileged to know about her humble disposition at creating the enviable means of livelihood now. Jobless Nigerians should adopt this humble practice by learning some trades that would assuage their economic problems; instead of engaging in “smart” dirty acts for survival. However, as you rightly recommended in your piece, people who are engaged in this criminal act should be brought to justice; as a deterrent to others who might be induced into the crime as a viable option for livelihood. All said, goverments across board should wake up and take up their responsibilities to the citizenry instead of looting the nation’s treasury. Life has a span. Wbatever is looted by the leaders would not be shipped with them to hell where such looters would go in death; as predicted by all recognised faiths on earth. Opt for better leadership now before it is too late to amend. –Lai Ashadele.
Perhaps we are in END TIME generation. Just maybe, otherwise how can someone sell his own child? Things are hard but our leaders say ‘all is well and we are progressing’. No industries to create employment, investors are scared away with multiple taxation. Yet our leaders rub it on our faces with extravagant lifestyle. Civil service has been killed by politicians; those working are not paid; those who retired can’t get monthly pension not to talk of gratuities. How can money circulate? We are in trouble as human beings now worth nothing in a land flowing with milk and honey. –Tony Enyinta, Isuikwuato.
It is inhuman and sad for some parents to sell their child or children because of recession Nigerians are facing, afterall soon recession will end. Why must they sell God-given gift. Security agents should arrest parents that sold their children Let parents engage in meaningful jobs that and cater for their families. Our government provide good governance to end recession because it is promoting child traifficking and other vices.
–Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia.