A few days ago, a video clip went viral on the internet. In it we saw a young person surrounded by an angry mob; he was physically assaulted and brutalized. He was finally burnt alive. This incidence we are told took place in Badagry, Lagos state. One could sense achievement and a warped and benign satisfaction from the onlookers. And there laid a lifeless and burnt human remains. It took real courage to see the whole clip. Seeing this, one will readily recall the ‘Aluu Four’- a group of four young men who were beaten and burnt alive in rivers state on suspicion of stealing; a claim that has since been refuted. On that occasion, we mourned them as a nation and empathized with their parents. There seemed to be a national resolve back then that resorting to such crude and inhumane methods could hardly serve justice and paints a sordid image of us as a nation.
There seems to be a disparity on the age of the young man mentioned earlier and also what he did. While some say, he was seven years of age, others claim he could not have been less than twenty. On the other hand, some say he stole Garri, yet others call him a phone thief. What is not in doubt however is the facts of what happened to him. He is indeed dead. Whatever he stole is inconsequential when placed side by side with human life. One certainly outweighs the other in value. Whatever ethnic stock one comes from, or whatever religion we belong to. We should recognize the sanctity of life.
The title of this piece becomes apt, when I remember how we reacted as a nation to the Aluu massacre. We rose as people and condemned in strong terms that ugly incident. On this one, nobody seems to care or react to serve as a deterrent to future occurrence. How can this be? Where are our consciences? It is even more troubling when you consider the fact that similar incidents occur all over the country almost on a daily basis. Anyone tagged a thief in any marketplace in Nigeria is subjected to the cruelty of an angry mob. No one seems to mind that we have institutions such as the police or courts to seek redress. While the police might bear some blame in these for letting go of criminals who constitute a threat to peace in the society, and the courts for the slow pace of criminal proceedings, taking laws into one’s hand is not the way forward.
The Badagry incidence should be unsettling to the Lagos state government. Acts such this one hardly uplifts the city’s reputation. The state should put measures in place to dissuade those fond of this. Such efforts should be paramount considering the state is fast becoming an emerging and a favoured destination for investments. Crude ways of settling scores or serving justice like this one, could dent the image of the state.
Finally, the conscience is a moral guide; always pointing in the right direction. If we allow our national conscience to be deadened, its spells doom for us in the long run. On the other hand, a portent conscience bodes well for us as a nation. We will become alive and active. It will prompt us to action when an elected government is heading the wrong way. It will prevent ugly incidents such as the one which prompted this piece. It will help us to realise that though the wheels of justice may be slow, justice will surely come around. It will help us to embrace and cultivate ennobling virtues such empathy, graciousness and compassion. For our sake and posterity, let’s make our national conscience a portent one.
[author image=”http://hypestationng.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Edidiong-Dickson-Hypestationng.jpg” ]Edidiong Dickson is an Uyo based Freelance copywriter. His interest spans social commentary and criticism.[/author]