In a recent article for The Atlantic, Teju Cole, author of Open City, examines the existence and persistence of mob rule in Nigeria.
He looks at the recent case of the Aluu 4, the four young Nigerians who were beaten and burned to death in the village of Aluu. Cole asks what makes this case different to any other that Nigeria has seen, and traces the path from “Jungle Justice” to other places in the world, now and in the past, that have seen similar spates of violence. He states: “Lynching is common in Nigeria. Extrajudicial killing is often the fate of those accused of kidnapping and armed robbery, but also of those suspected of minor crimes like pickpocketing.”
The murder of the four University of Port Harcourt students has caused a deep introspection among Nigerians, on social media in particular, where their memories seem to haunt a space that has seen and heard of more than its fair share of the tragic and gruesome aspects of that country. Cole examines why this lynching in particular, when there are many each year, has caused outrage that “was loud and long”.
On Friday October 5, 2012, four students at the University of Port Harcourt, in southern Nigeria, went to the nearby village of Aluu. They had gone to collect a debt from a man named Coxson Lucky. The students were young men, all in their teens or early twenties. At Aluu, they tried to shake down Lucky (how aggressively, no one really knows); it seems they also seized some items belonging to him. Lucky raised an alarm, a crowd gathered, and the students found themselves accused of stealing laptops and phones. They were immediately set upon by the mob, stripped, paraded through town, and beaten with sticks. They began to plead for their lives and, even as they did so, were weighed down with tires and set alight. All four of them — Chiadika Biringa, Ugonna Obuzor, Lloyd Toku, and Tekena Elkanah — died there, in the mud of Aluu village.
- Open City by Teju Cole
Find this book with BOOK Finder!