The second lesson is that social media is becoming an important tool for monitoring not just the misdeeds of our leaders but those of fellow citizens (or savages?).
“We are at war with the universe, the sky is falling And the only thing that can save us now is sensitivity and compassion” – Lil Wayne ft Robin thicke (Tie my hands)
I haven’t seen the video of the Aluu lynching and given what I’ve heard about it, I probably won’t. It won’t help my flailing faith in Nigeria to burn another glaringly obvious image of how the rule of law has broken down in our country into permanent memory. Perhaps, ignoring the lynching at Aluu will allow me preserve an image of my favorite failed state that I can tolerate. Or will it? I don’t know.
However, beyond appalling disappointment at the clear display of savagery that was the Aluu lynchings, I want to believe there are some important lessons and observations we could draw from this incident, which might help us, adapt our institutions to the realities on the ground.
The first lesson is that there is a gap in community policing and justice based systems that the Nigerian police needs to creatively fill. I still believe that if the Aluu community had local governance structures that could administer justice without fear or favor, we might have had a different outcome. As I keep pointing out municipal and community based policing creates numerous opportunities for unemployed youth and helps to keep people safe.
I know the typical rebuttal to this point is that the Nigerian Police is too stretched to provide such security services and municipal government budgets are too insignificant to cover the costs.
These are fair points except that they ignore a cost recovery model for community policing that we already know has worked very well –especially in Lagos. Several (perhaps more affluent) communities in Lagos, already jointly contract private security firms to guard their neighborhoods. Even in less affluent neighborhoods, vigilante groups manned by unemployed youth in the area are often a norm. I wonder, why hasn’t the Nigerian police co-ordinated with private security firms and vigilante groups already stationed all around the country and have communities pay a little extra monthly subvention that goes exclusively to their local police station and court. We already regularly pay Police a N20 thoroughfare tax for doing literally nothing, I’m sure most Nigerians won’t mind paying more if its what it will take to develop an independent but local and responsive police force and justice system. Sooner or later, we have to come to the realization that the only way we will be able to substantially improve the justice system is by heavily localizing it.
The second lesson is that social media is becoming an important tool for monitoring not just the misdeeds of our leaders but those of fellow citizens (or savages?). I don’t know why whoever filmed the Aluu lynching did so but their video was a great way to tell the backstory of a familiar site on our streets and build a broad based community of Nigerians outraged by it. This won’t be the first time we’ve seen the familiar site of rubber and flesh on our street. But without that video, it was too easy to dismiss the dead victim as a criminal who “deserved” their treatment. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen social media used in such a manner. The Abia Rape awakened the nation’s conscience to an injustice that was all too common in our campus and built a coalition of Nigerians from all over the country who would stand up against violence against women. I wonder now however if these kind of uses of social media may expand to chronicling even more mundane crimes; extortion by police men and custom officials, employees stealing from their workplaces, students cheating and many more atrocities that have contributed to our country’s deep rot. It might seem a far-fetched thought, but perhaps, a country armed with cameras, paranoid that their indiscretions may surprisingly pop up on the Internet will inspire the much-needed change in attitude this country needs. What effect this will have on a justice system frequently plagued with low conviction rates due to lack of evidence remains to be seen.
Finally, I think it is becoming clear is that beyond Aluu, with 22 states under water and hundreds massacred everyday in Northern Nigeria, Nigerian life seems cheap. These are certainly very hard times for us with our fellow countrymen and women so mindlessly flushed down death’s toilet like waste tissue. At the end of the day, we’ll only get through these dark periods in our country’s history by sticking by each other. Building grassroots movements that can restore a sense of right and wrong ravaged by misgovernance is one sure fire way to get Nigeria back on track. As in the words of Robin Thicke, “the only thing that can save us now is sensitivity and compassion”
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.