By: Elijah Umoh
Justice in a nutshell is a state of being just or fair. Hence, often asserted that "justice done to one is justice done to all". However, the big question telling us on our faces is "where lies the place of jungle justice in our law?" This question becomes imperative, paying credence to the repeated cases of jungle justice execution in our society.
Nevertheless, it is worthy of note that our extant laws frown at jungle justice and its recurring cases in our contemporary society, even when its perpetration appeals directly to the ignorance of the law for the citizens and their none regards to human lives. This act of social injustice has traversed our Local boundaries to National. Hence, a pandemic, of which is not arrested, will be on the verge of becoming a clog on the wheels of our justice system.
Simply put, justice cannot be dispensed where jungle justice takes the led, because fairness and good conscience will be set in disdain. Hence, the mandatory legal maxim “Audi alteram pattem” which literally means “hear from both sides” will not be adhered.
Accordingly, it is worthy of note that the above relied on maxim "Audi alteram pattem" remains one of the indispensable pillars of Natural Justice providing every individual the legal right to be heard as unequivocally stipulated under section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ( as amended). And has been replicated in several Regional and International Documents. Considering the above, it becomes fundamental to ask If jungle justice takes the lead, how will parties be heard, and How will justice be dispensed? Let it be heard that as a Nation, several acts have truncated the good motive of justice system; one of such is setting an alleged thief ablaze. This common and repeated act of man inhumanity to man has indisputably ridiculed our justice system, and most times caused a regret as many of its victims are thereafter realized to be innocent upon meticulous investigation. One of such sad narrative that is still fresh in our memories is the case of the four (4) students of University of Porth Harcourt, who were burnt at the slightest shout-out from a mischievous being masquerading as a victim of arm robbery.
Also, sad to recall is the very recent case of Thursday 12th May 2022, wherein a female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State, was beaten and thereafter burnt to death over a slightest allegation of insulting Prophet Muhammad.
It therefore follows that, jungle justice is deemed to might have been dispensed, ones an alleged criminal or innocent accused is set ablaze by certain person(s) in a manner contrary to the existing directive and provisions of our extant laws on how a criminal matter ought to be prosecuted.
Whatsoever pleasure the perpetrators of jungle justice do derived, it is the position of this piece that though activities of criminals are never palatable to witness as a victim, our extant laws should be respected. As setting a suspect ablaze does not serve the course of Justice. As testimonies abound wherein a thief was burnt and someone’s property got missing beneath the jungle justice execution.
Finally, although Nigerians have incessantly adhered to this unscrupulous and inhumane act which can be best termed as “societal recurring evil”, it is worthy of note that jungle justice has no place in our extant laws. Hence, will only desecrate the sanctity of our justice system instead of adding value and respect to it. Hence, should not be promoted to eat up the fabric of our Justice system.
Considering the above, one will not be improper to agree with this piece that the big question has been answered.
JUSTITIA NEMINA NAGANDA, which literally means “to no man shall justice be denied”.