An Ijede Magistrates’ Court near Ikorodu, Lagos State on Tuesday discharged a man, Kazeem Ajiga, who allegedly lynched another man for stealing his aluminium roofing sheets.
Ajiga was arraigned on Tuesday for taking laws into his hands by executing jungle justice on a suspect, Raheem Omoyele, whom he accused of stealing his property.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Omoyele was on Monday brought before Olagbegi-Adelabu on a charge of stealing 25 aluminium roofing sheets belonging to Ajiga.
The Magistrate, Mrs Jumoke Olagbegi-Adelabu ruled :“Since Ajiga has shown remorse, caution and did not waste this court’s time by pleading guilty, I hereby discharge him and strick out the case.
“I ordered the arrest and subsequent arraignment of Ajiga and his accomplices still at large for almost blinding a suspect they arrested and for obstructing the police from doing their job.
“This court is not against citizens arresting criminals in support of the course of justice, but will not tolerate the use of excessive force, beating up and violence on them.
“Many Nigerians have been killed in such acts which clearly is anti-social, barbaric and against human rights and contrary to being sane in this 21st century.
“No sane mind should justify transferred aggression on an apprehended petty thief because of a perceived loss or theft.
“This message I hope will sink into the minds of the Oke-Eletu people and Nigerians that jungle justice, lynching and harm to arrested suspects by them is criminal and unacceptable by law.”
Earlier, the prosecutor, Sgt. Friday Ekunday had apologised on behalf of the accused, Ajiga, on the grounds that he did not know the implications of his action.
“He was the complainant in the case that led to this charge against him and acted out of ignorance for not knowing that a crime was being committed by beating up the person who stole from him.
“Ajiga has leant his lesson after sleeping at the police cell for the night, and I beg this court to temper justice with mercy,” he said.
He said the accused violated Section 166(d) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011 when he committed the offence on June 26 at Oke-Eletu area of Ikorodu at about 6.30 p.m.
Before the ruling, the accused had pleaded guilty to the charge of breaching public peace by executing jungle justice on Omoyele.
In an interview with NAN, a lawyer, Mr Victor Nwadike, attributed the lynching of criminals to ignorance and the high rate of illiteracy in the country.
`’Mob action and jungle justice are a reflection of the level of education that Nigerians have about basic issues of their rights and about what is legal and permissible.
“The need for more enlightenment cannot be understated and for an overhaul of our educational system, its philosophy and its approach to transform the people.
“Even many so-called educated people cannot understand simple legal documents, many cannot interpret our constitution and cannot explain a contractual agreement.
“Our backwardness even in the administration of justice is largely because of the pervasive ignorance and illiteracy in this nation.
“We need to ensure every person gets educated up to secondary school and review our curricula at all levels to imbue critical thinking as an essential ingredient of our education system,” he said.