by Isi Esene
When the story first broke, it was reported that five boys were caught stealing cell phones and laptops, and so the members of Aluu community beat them to death before the police arrived. That was the version which went viral.
Later that night, some youths took to twitter, tweeting eye witness accounts. A girl using the twitter handle @penny_sugababe sent tweets which went viral and got retweeted so many times. She got a very serious tongue lashing from people who read her tweets which may have prompted her to deactivate her twitter account.
According to Adeola Adeyemo, @penny_sugababe started off with a cynical tweet: “Gosh! So because the criminals that were killed in PH today were cute, people are calling it injustice…Smh… Nigerians sha.”
Then she continued with the tweets below:
She concluded by saying, “They chose a wrong path and they knew the end…. Did they expect an angry mob to pat dem on dia backs and give them ice-cream? Oh please”.
“Good night folks, pray for your loved ones, never to join a wrong crowd or be misguided. The fate of those boys…. It is well.”
Someone who gave his identity as ‘Oyb’ gave another version on NairaLand, an online youth forum:
“These armed robbers have been terrorizing the place for some time now. In fact a neighbor who moved in after paying 300k left after staying for 6 weeks dashing the landlord his rent due to the frequency of [robbery] visits.
“From what we just gathered this robbers 5 of them after robbing went to a hideout to pack the loot hoping for day to break when they will emerge from the bush and blend in like normal people but a palm wine tapper saw them and after over hearing their conversation alerted the vigilante.
“The Aluu community of Umucholu or so have been wrongly accused in the past of aiding these criminals, some even said it was [accused] the community youth. The people rose as one, went to arrest them together with the exhibits and took them to the village elders who after examining them found them guilty. It was then they were taken to the nearby burrow pit where rubbish is thrown. They were given a very generous beating and later burned with fire, it appears 2 died in the course of the beating.
“The tale goes that a team of police came in a van but where chased away by the community who formed a human shield and also pelted them with stones. The sister of one of the boys came around and was crying that she had been warning her brother to stay away from such bad company and that only the previous day the parents sent 60k which she gave to him. Oh well they got what they deserved and who ever says its jungle justice should have his head examined. The elders declared them guilty.
“This is a country where I build my house, generate my electricity, pump my water and even build my road then you talk of government? In fact I pay police monthly so that if I call within 5 minutes they should be around just in case criminals like this come my way. Anyway, typical of the situation, one of the fathers of the boy is connected and went to get Joint Task Force to come and start shooting sporadically, he later exclaimed that he gave the boy 52k earlier. It is said that the JTF went away with the bodies and I wonder what for?
“They were 5 in all but 1 escaped in the process of being captured by the vigilante, 1 of the 4 had done and failed the remedial programme in UNIPORT and had been hanging around the environment which is typical of most boys and girls in UNIPORT. It is not everybody you see that says he is a student of UNIPORT that is.
“The other day a parent told me that he does not want his son to return to the house when it was obvious that he was going to fail out of the basic remedial program. This same guy that was buying A1 in private secondary school was scoring 144 in post UME, 136 in ISLT entrance exam and 29/100 in the remedial program. The remaining 3 are students but trust UNIPORT to soon go on air and declare to the whole world that those people are not their students. That is how we keep deceiving ourselves in this country.”
Date360, another Nigerian youth forum said it contacted a student who had witnessed the whole act. According to them, the eyewitness gave these details:
The reports says, “The students involved are cultists;report they went to attack someone. They were about 5 in number. On their way out, a girl saw them and screamed, this alerted people who attacked them.. One of them escaped and the remaining 4 were caught with weapons and beaten by a man [though they were already helpless and weak after being attacked by the crowd] , hitting them mercilessly and bringing them to a slow and painful death.. The man later got fuel and poured it in their mouths and lit it; burning one student! The man was stopped by the arrival of the police so he couldn’t burn the rest. They were later taken to the mortuary where the families of the deceased came to claim the corpse…the news about stealing of phones, laptops, e.t.c are all lies, probably in a bid to stall investigations.. Since they said they were mobbe”
What I could deduce from all these accounts are:
1. They were petty thieves who were brutally killed because they stole cell phones and laptops;
2. They were part of a dangerous group of armed robbers who had been terrorizing Aluu Community; and
3. They were cultists.
All these accounts do not change the fact that young men in their 20s were brutally beaten and killed without a chance of a fair trial in a court of law.
When has a community of elders had the authority to pass a death sentence on criminals? Are we back in pre-colonial times? Does it mean that Jungle Justice now prevails over our country’s laws and fundamental human rights?
I am very interested in the outcome of this story. I want to see how the Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi will handle this case. Already, he has reportedly ordered the immediate arrest of the killers of the students.
The proper handling of this case shall prove to right-thinking Nigerians and indeed the international eye watching us if there is still Law and Order in our beloved country, Nigeria.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.