Curiously, no one has been arrested since November 1, when the incident occurred and mum has been the word from Anambra State government. It is a morbid feeling that the government of Anambra State is comfortable that citizens were burnt and accusing fingers were pointed at a government agency and officials of the government have remained taciturn.

Governor Soludo’s administration in its zealous pursuit of order failed to distinguish between genuine lawbreakers and innocent citizens. The brothers, like many others, became victims of a system that bypassed legal norms, stripping them of their rights of fair hearing and rendering them helpless in the face of state-sanctioned brutality.

While the Nigerian legal system is equipped with statutes designed to maintain law and order and deliver justice, the recurring instances of extra-judicial punishments cast a shadow on the effectiveness of these laws.

Nigeria’s legal system, a fusion of English common law, Islamic and customary laws, provides a comprehensive framework for dealing with criminal offenses. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) guarantees the fundamental rights of individuals, emphasizing the right to life, dignity, and fair hearing. Additionally, the Criminal Code and Penal Code delineate offenses and prescribe penalties for those found guilty.

Sections 33, 34 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended stipulate that every person under the law has the “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 criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria; a right to dignity of human persons, right to personal liberty and right to a fair hearing”.

However, mob justice denies alleged criminals this right.

While the legal framework is robust on paper, the grim reality on the ground often reveals a different story. Jungle justice, defined as extra-judicial punishment carried out by a group without legal authority, remains pervasive. In cases where communities take the law into their own hands, the absence of legal proceedings and due process creates a chasm in the application of justice.

The effectiveness of any legal system is contingent on robust enforcement. In the context of jungle justice, the disparities in law enforcement capabilities across different regions contribute to a sense of impunity and embolden state actors and others those who engage in extra-judicial acts.

Initiatives that raise public awareness about the consequences of jungle justice and educate citizens on legal alternatives can foster a greater understanding of the importance of due process and the rule of law.

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Bolstering the capabilities of law enforcement agencies, ensuring adequate training, and addressing logistical challenges are essential steps in deterring individuals, communities and state actors from resorting to extra-judicial actions.

Community leaders, traditional rulers, and religious figures play pivotal roles in shaping societal attitudes. Encouraging their active involvement in discouraging jungle justice and promoting peaceful conflict resolution can bridge the gap between legal statutes and cultural practices.

The tragic end of the two brothers not only raise questions about the effectiveness of Anambra State’s anti-touts’ initiative but also shines a light on the dangers of allowing empowering and arming group of people to enforce laws they were not properly trained for. While touts and criminal elements must be addressed, it is imperative that the government’s actions adhere to the principles of justice, fairness, and human rights.

The incident has left the community in shock and has raised concerns about the potential abuse of power in the name of maintaining order. The erosion of trust in government institutions and the fear instilled in the hearts of citizens further exacerbate the already fragile relationship between the people and those sworn to protect them.

In the aftermath of this tragic incident, there is a growing chorus of voices demanding accountability and a re-evaluation of Soludo’s anti-touts initiative. While maintaining public safety is paramount, it should not come at the cost of sacrificing the very principles that underpin a just and democratic society.

Governor Soludo’s administration is now faced with the responsibility of ensuring that such a tragedy does not repeat itself. Transparency, accountability, and a commitment to upholding the rule of law must guide every government actions moving forward.

The tragic end of two brothers allegedly at the hands of government-sanctioned anti-touts agency serves as a stark reminder that the pursuit of justice must always be tempered with a commitment to human rights and due process. As the community mourns the loss of these young lives, it is a clarion call for all governments to reassess their approaches to maintaining order, ensuring that justice is not sacrificed in the process.

Only through a balanced and principled approach can societies hope to prevent such heart-wrenching tragedies and build a future where the rule of law prevails over the shadows of vigilantism.

Okoronkwo, a leadership and good governance advocate, writes from Lagos.