Whatever the shortcomings some may ascribe to our laws, they are enough to address most, if not all, of our challenges. However, rather than resorting to legally established institutions such as the police or the courts when we feel cheated or taken advantage of, some conveniently resort to self-help. The most alarming are the attacks over allegations of witchcraft, and most recently, the attacks over allegations of genital theft.
Lately, we have had cases of attacks on citizens over alleged theft of genitals, a development that stems strictly from superstitious beliefs with no scientific evidence to back them up. This is indeed a sad commentary on our humanity.
Indeed, many have arrogated to themselves authority they do not possess, inflicting injustice on sometimes innocent and helpless citizens in the name of getting justice for themselves, all without recourse to law enforcement agencies. This worrisome trend has sent many people to early graves for offences they never committed or for crimes that do not require anything near capital punishment.
Take the issue of missing or theft of genitals, which as observed in virtually all instances, always ‘miraculously’ come back or reappear on their own. There are equally allegations of witchcraft against people, especially the elderly. These have led to suspects being mobbed, lynched or set ablaze by angry youths who never demand evidence before they unleash violence on their victims.
On January 18, 2023, Mama Kyado Austin, an 80-year-old woman, was set ablaze at Tse Agena, Gbamacha, in Gwer-West Local Government Area of Benue State on the allegation of witchcraft. An elderly man was also buried alive on April 22 in the Ikye community, Konshisha LGA of Benue State, on the same allegation of witchcraft. Similarly, Mr Benson Timothy, a 57-year-old man of Roma community of Song Local Government Area of Adamawa State, was killed on the allegation of witchcraft.
Also recently in Kano, a woman was killed by a man who accused her of being a bloodsucker, not knowing that she was coming from a hospital with her daughter. Unfortunately, the daughter had gone to a chemist to buy some drugs when the man accosted her. Within the twinkle of an eye, the man had dealt her a heavy blow, and she died instantly.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command recently revealed that about 62 cases of alleged disappearance of manhood had been reported across the territory. The issue took a disturbing turn with the resurgence of alleged missing male organs as recorded in Kogi, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Delta and the FCT. In FCT, to be precise, the family of Alhaji Tijjani Yusuf of Kabusa village was forced into mourning after he was falsely accused of stealing a man’s manhood and subjected to mob justice. According to the FCT Police Commissioner, after Alhaji Tijani, who was killed by the mob for causing the disappearance of the man’s manhood, “the male genital of Emmanuel Danladi, who raised the false alarm that his penis had disappeared, was confirmed intact and active by a medical doctor.”
The experience of Mrs Rahab Emmanuel, a mother of four, was also not palatable. “I was going round looking for the woman’s house that asked me to come and wash clothes for her, the man now followed me and raised an alarm, accusing me of having done something as he claimed that his manhood was not functioning again. I told him I didn’t know anything and that my hands were clean. Upon hearing about the incident, youths in their numbers rushed to the vigilante office, where I went to report the matter, tied my hands, and started beating me.”
Tellingly, many have continued to fall victim to allegations of theft of male organs without any shred of evidence against them. On the other hand, those behind these allegations walk away freely.
It was, therefore, praiseworthy to hear the FCT Police Command announce the arrest and arraignment of 14 men for lying that some residents had caused their genitals to disappear, leading to mob actions carried out against over 10 accused persons in the nation’s capital city in the past few weeks.
The FCT Commissioner of Police, Haruna Garba, who made the disclosure recently, noted that the command received over 10 cases, mostly around Karshi, Gwagwalada and the Kwali areas of the FCT, some of which escalated into mob action by youths.
While commending the police for this move, we condemn the resort to barbarism and superstition, which should have no basis in any modern society. Any act that will touch on the health and life of an individual is totally unacceptable. We equally call on members of the public to exercise restraint whenever they feel a situation is not acceptable to them and report same to the appropriate authority without falling into the temptation of taking laws into their own hands.
We also urge the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to step up campaigns against these pre-mediaeval acts and work with stakeholders, including the Nigerian film industry, especially Nollywood, which sometimes inadvertently promotes these beliefs in their movies. People must be encouraged to always seek redress using the right channel whenever they feel hurt or that their rights have been trampled upon. We must do everything possible to stop these attacks, which paint us in a very bad light.