Posted by By Paul Odili on
LAST Monday, I watched Channels Television prime time 10 O'clock news, and regretted I ever did because, I sat through a horrendous picture of the lynching by a mob, of an 11-year-old boy, in front of the National Stadium, Lagos, on allegation of attempted baby kidnapping.
LAST Monday, I watched Channels Television prime time 10 O'clock news, and regretted I ever did because, I sat through a horrendous picture of the lynching by a mob, of an 11-year-old boy, in front of the National Stadium, Lagos, on allegation of attempted baby kidnapping. Nothing in recent memory has been more traumatic. Nothing! As I write this, I can still play back in my mind the disturbing scenes of this lad already battered by his captors, face swollen, and blood dripping from his mouth, pleading for mercy denying that he was a baby kidnapper. To prove he had no such intention, he showed them from his street begging a 50 naira note somebody had given him to go and eat.
But his merciless self- appointed inquisitors were not impressed; they grilled him, coercing him to confess the truth. But this boy maintained his innocence and informed them that he could take them to his mother, who was a petty trader at the National Stadium, to vouch for him. When confronted by this menacing mob, the woman denied that she was the boy’s mother! The denial by the woman was, it appears, the final straw, before the boy’s lynching. With no one else to intervene on his behalf, he was dragged with his back on the hard tarmac like a bag of rice by a big and heartless fellow to his execution ground. Meanwhile, some members of the mob continued the beating using whatever cudgel they could lay their hands on. Pieces of rough wood, iron, whatever, were used. Along the way, somebody inspired by the devil, came up with a disused car tyre and placed it on the boy’s neck! It was clear his intention.
At this stage, Channels pulled off the picture, but not without rounding off the story that the boy was burnt alive. I was in sheer physical pain from watching this ordeal. He was only 11 years, for Christ's sake. In fact, a bullet through the head would have been by far, better than the physical torture this boy was put through. Where was the Police? Where was the Army? Where was the SSS? Where was anybody with a touch of human feelings who could have saved this boy from this grisly death? Why was there nobody to keep the mob away from this illegality? Since when did a mob become the accuser, the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner? What has just been recounted happened in the afternoon at a location that is usually very busy, and not far from Area C Police Station, which was recently firebombed by the Army during recent Army-Police clash.
Now what is the story?
This boy was captured by a mob who believed he was trying to kidnap a baby for sale to a money ritualist. They interrogated and found him guilty, and executed him. In truth, the incidences of child robbers and child kidnappers are becoming an increasing phenomenon. Around this time of every year, commonly known as "Mber" months on account of it being close to Christmas celebrations, all kinds of evil deeds manifest themselves all because of a desperation for money to mark the occasion. And so depending on inclination, some unscrupulous people would prefer to rob and for others it is money rituals.
It would appear that this year using babies for money rituals is in vogue. And their abductors are minors of the age range of 11 years. Very clever, because an 11-year-old kid is sufficiently innocent and harmless looking, and can therefore insinuate himself into the environment of their victims before making off with their target. If he succeeds, he is paid a token sum of five or 10 thousand naira. Tales abound of such incidents these days, and it would appear that the mob at the National Stadium aware of this, decided not to take chances, and went beyond a normal citizen’s call by taking the law into their own hands. It does not matter that the Lagos Police Commissioner, Mr. Ade Ajakaiye, has promised that his Command would make the boy’s killers face the wrath of the law. This is not proactive. Where were they when they could have saved the situation?
One of the most alarming developments in recent times is that many people seem to view Police work with contempt, and would rather resort to self-help than appeal to the law. In certain neighbourhoods in Lagos, it is easier to find people turning to Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), a vigilante group, for help in investigating a crime and even in the punishment of it than call on the Police. When you look at it, why should they? The graft, connivance and incompetence of the Police Force is legendary. And it is not helped by corruption right at the highest level of the Force. With Tafa Balogun’s public trial and revelations of stupendous amount of money he embezzled, public confidence in the work of the Police Force never great in the first place, has further slackened.
And back to this slain boy, who were his parents? Why was he not in school? Where was his home? All these are rhetorical questions, because the reality is that he probably never had any home. Never knew his father or mother even. He was obviously a street urchin, who was born in the street and lived in the street. Nameless, unloved and unmourned. His breed is multiplying by the day. With economy very deep in the woods, broken homes and street children are spiralling. And with the Department of Social Welfare comatose, government at every level incapable of addressing these dangerous social malcontents, the country is sitting on a tinder box. Nigeria is indeed a very sick country governed by imposters. Remember, he was only 11 years old.
Mr. Odili is a staff of Vanguard Newspapers.