I watched with unspeakable wrestling and agony in my soul as humans were been beaten, battered, shattered and kindled with fire. With anger so devoid of mercy, emotion were expressed in so vivid a way that would have a made a 13th Century Viking cower in fear. Distracted by head-lifting and side-shifting, I tried to pause and cry but the tears only welled up in my eyes. I found myself in a tightrope of pains wrangling in my brain. I watched as spectators counselled and stoked up their death. I watched as they writhed and struggled in the sheets of flames. I also watched as they gasped for breath but none was forthcoming. All that they could inhale was the pungent smell of burning flesh and mangled bones. I imagined them never meeting their waterloo after their labour of love for their country. And I saw as they drooped, deflated and died under the irresistibly chilling hot shadows of fire. I saw, I watched, I imagined and I wept for the four Nigerian students of the University of Port Harcourt as they were lynched to death for flimsy reasons by angry mobsters in Umuokiri in Aluu Community on October 5th, 2012.
One would have thought that justice would be expedite in circumstances of this nature, but exactly a year after, justice still hangs on the balance. I cannot stoop so low to praise our justice system as she has plunged herself into a situation where Rome is burning and Augustus Caesar fiddling his fingers. All the talents that pleased God to bless Ugunna Obuzor; an eighteen (18) years old, 200 level, Geology student, Lloyd Toku Mike; a nineteen (19) years old, 200 level, Civil Engineering student, Tekena Elkanah; a twenty (20) years old, Diploma Technician student and Chiadaka Odinga; a twenty (20) years, 200 level, Theatre Arts student have all been plunged into eternal oblivion. Just imagine the physical and emotional trauma their parents are going through because of delayed justice.
After the public hue and cry by the citizens of India upon the gang rape of a twenty-three (23) years old woman, who subsequently died a week after in hospital from the internal injuries occasioned by the act by four men, the Indian Supreme Court wasted no time in sentencing them to death. The actions of the angry mobs who murdered the four Nigerian students were carried out within a day, and in spite of the hue and cry from Nigerians, there seem not to be an element of justice. All we can perceive is delayed justice and its eventual denial. The Adversarial system of justice in force in Nigeria is very slow and it is no disparagement on our judiciary to learn and if possible adopt the apace Jury System of other countries who are at the vanguard of justice. I am always tempted to ask, what is the essence of a State without justice? And St. Augustine answered me in his book, ‘City of God’, that; “Without justice, a State is nothing but a robber band”. From the decision reached in Major General Hamza Musdapher’s case by our Nigerian Courts, the citizens are still yet to feel primarily the keen of justice, and savor the cutting-edge of the law.
Chapter IV of Section 33(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria. It was never certified by any Nigerian Court that the students committed an offence that warranted those blood-thirsty and barbaric members of the Aluu Community to intentionally snuff out their right to life. Or was it that the animals who devoured the Nigerian students deemed it appropriate to form a court to trial people. If that been the case, then that mobocratic rule was no less than a Bill of Attainder or a Bill of Pains and Penalties where a man was pronounced guilty without trial. The name Aluu means ‘abomination’, and according to the diseased members of that community, what the students did amounted to an anathema before them but not before the law. The members of the Aluu Community took the laws into their own hands and constituted a Kangaroo Court where no rules apply and resorted to jungle justice. The murderers, onlookers, the members and people around the scene who contributed in stoking their killings, like Macbeth who heard a voice cry saying sleep no more Macbeth doth murder sleep, the innocent sleep are as well culpable by virtue of Section 7 of the Criminal Code Act which delineates that when an offence is committed, each of the following persons is deemed to have taken part in committing the offence and to be guilty of the offence, and may be charged with actually committing it, that is; (a) every person who actually does the act, (b) every person who does any act for the purpose of aiding or enabling another person to commit the offence, (c) every person who aids another person in committing the offence, and (d) any person who counsels any other person to commit the offence. And Section 319 of the same Act provides that any person who commits murder shall be sentenced to death. As plain and clear as these provisions may seem, justice seems unforthcoming.
The bane of Nigerians still remains fiat justitia (let justice be done). This is not the Roman Colosseum situation where early Christians were killed by lions and gladiators as public sport. Neither is it Cosmas and Damian situation; two Arabian brothers who after surviving ordeals of drowning, burning and stoning eventually ended up been beheaded and nothing was done to that effect. My heart bleeds for justice because it is the sharpest part of the law that when denied of it, the whole essence of existence becomes blunt. My balance has been offset. The souls of the four students killed in the Aluu Community in Port Harcourt have submerged me in a justice-thirsty state. Where are the human right activists, the long arm of the law, the coroners, the radicals, the legal practitioners of our country? Where are they? Justice hands on a balance. When will justice flow down like a river and integrity like a mighty stream in Nigeria? Says the LEGAL WATCHMEN. If justice is not manifestly and undoubtedly seen to be done, fate will play herself in the succeeding years to come.
Written by Obabueki Davidson.