The Judge, The Jury and The Executioner

Posted by News Express | 21 May 2022 | 1,092 times

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 Once you have killed a snake or a rat or even a cockroach, you dispose of the remains as quickly as possible. Killing even a fly is an extremely distasteful task for most people. But it is sometimes a necessary task if you want to rid your environment of flies and rodents. However, very few people will continue to hit a snake or a rat after it is dead except out of fear or hatred. Even fewer people will go through the trouble of burning the carcass.  And only a psychopath will derive any kind of pleasure in seeing to the death of anything that has life be it an ant. Last week in the ancient town of Sokoto, and in the premises of an institution created for knowledge, the life of a young lady was snuffed out. From the footage that I could allow myself to see – there were many more distasteful footages – it must have been a very gruesome death. No animal should be made to die the way that poor girl died. Long after she lay prone and was obvious she was dead, her body was still being assaulted with stones, sticks and cudgels. Each strike was a strike for intolerance, for hatred, for bigotry, for crudity. Shouts and chants came from frenzied lips as this demented mob manufactured tyres virtually from nowhere and proceeded to incinerate a life that was once a colleague. The whole scene was a bestial orgy that negated any form of civilization. The satisfaction derived from killing a life that was known to some of them could only come from psychopaths.

It took a while for the bile in my mouth and sinking feeling in my gut to clear. As soon as they did, I tried to find out the heinous crime she committed that made her erstwhile peers to order her execution. I read what was said to be the full narrative. I read the abridged version. Nothing in what she allegedly said was beyond what classmates would throw at each other. I certainly didn’t find any blasphemous statement. But then mine is a liberal mind; a Christian mind. I then tried to find out what Islam saw as blasphemy. My findings generally showed it that bothered on disrespect of the Holy Prophet but that reactions depended largely on the tolerance level of the recipient and should require a versed Islamic jurist to interpret.

These young people that took umbrage at what was said should have been more tolerant first because she was a school mate and not some abstract face; secondly the platform and the context in which she made whatever statement should have been considered; thirdly, the institution they represent and the image of that institution should have been considered; and fourthly, as ‘educated youths’ they should have been more conscious of the repercussions or the ripple effect of their actions. If they felt significantly aggrieved, they should have escalated the matter to a higher authority. They did not. Neither did they submit the statement to the jurisdiction of the Law. Instead, they became the accuser, the jury, the judge and the executioner. As classifications go, what happened was a crime of passion. Crimes of passion exist everywhere – the US recorded two in two days the same week as ours. But no decent society allows a crime of passion of whatever hue – be it religious or racist - to go unpunished. The more gruesome the crime, the louder the voice of a decent society in condemnation and the more determined that society is to prevent a reoccurrence by hunting down all the perpetrators and bringing them to justice. Unfortunately in Nigeria, the powers that be seem not to believe in the sanctity of life to that extent or to basic decency. Many Northern leaders of whatever persuasion have always been ‘soft’ towards religious killings because of a probable backlash. They will rather place the clerics’ nods of approval over their duty to ensure the safety of life. This attitude encourages the unenlightened to continuously take laws into their hands. The reaction of those who purchased the 100 million Naira form which entitles them to vie for the presidency of the whole country – north and south, Christian and Muslim - to what happened in Sokoto last week is also instructive. Many pressed the mute button. Those who talked were measured. There was no anger; no indignation at what was a debasement of a society; of humanity. Someone’s child died; someone’s life was snuffed at prime; someone’s dreams were taken out. Some siblings lost a sister, a playmate. This person had a name. She lived among us. The nation should be in bereavement; yet our presidential hopefuls went about bantering and sharing jokes as they hustled for delegates. Why will it not happen again tomorrow, or next week or next year?

 Many southerners simply cannot identify with what happened in the open in Sokoto last week. It was a vindication to some that the far north and the south do not share the same core values. I personally was embarrassed that it happened in this 21st century in a country I call mine. I was also embarrassed that the leaders were not embarrassed enough to condemn the incident in the strongest of words. And when youths came out in their numbers to loot and vandalize in protest for the ‘token arrest’ of two of the suspected murderers, I became afraid. Not so much for the country but for the north itself. Those who saw the videos of youths in their teens destroying buildings and valuables in such a wanton, frenzied manner should be.  We need to spare a thought for what the north is today. It is worrisome that the northern leaders do not fully comprehend the devil-may care- psyche of their people and what their values have degenerated to. As for the south, it will have to decide at some point how much more of this savagery – from Boko Haram to herdsmen to religious murder- it can take. Or how much more impunity and disregard for the rule of law it can accommodate. Even then, it will still have to pray for its ‘brethren’ in the north so it can have peace in its territory. And for the sake of humanity.

May God open the eyes of these northern leaders to see beyond the acquisition of power to what the future portends for the north if it continues to exploit the unbridled population growth of its people while ignoring their education and well-being especially that of the young.

Muyiwa Adetiba is a veteran journalist and publisher. He can be reached via

Source: News Express

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