JP Clark, the first African writer appointed to a chair of English, was born on December 6th 1933 into two old Izon families, Bekederemo and Adomi of Kiagbodo in the Niger Delta. He distinguished himself in scholarship so much so that he served as professor of English, university of Lagos; visiting Distinguished fellow, centre for the Humanities, Wesleyan University, USA; visiting professor of English, Lincoln university, USA; visiting professor of English, Yale university, USA and visiting professor, Institute of African Studies, university of Ibadan, Nigeria where he began as a Research Fellow and later worked internationally as a consultant to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO).
As one of the finest poets out of Africa, JP Clark wrote a highly philosophical poem titled; “season of Omens”, in which the worst form of human brutality and animalistic tendencies seem to be the dominant thematic concept.
This poem is found in his latest collection of poems rightly titled “full tide” which was first published in the year 2010.
In dissecting the unprecedented level of human brutality, wickedness and the crudest application of primitive jungle justice which was visited last weekend on four students of university of Port Harcourt, River State Nigeria, by the Aluu community in Ikwerre local government Area of River State, over suspected theft of mobile phones and computers, this beautiful poem of Professor JP Clark comes up handy.
I will therefore reproduce the essential aspects of Professor Clark’s thought in this poem to demonstrate the level of backwardness and primitivism that Nigeria has speedily reached in our contemporary times especially when viewed against the backdrop of the mob killing of the four university undergraduates and the massacre of over three dozen students of the Federal Polytechnic Mubi, Adamawa by unidentified suspected insurgents in the North.
In the ‘seasons of omens’, Professor JP Clark wrote thus; “when calabashes held petrol and men turned faggots in the streets, then came the five hunters; when mansions and limousines made bonfires in sunset cities, then came the five hunters; when clans were discovered that were not in the book and cattle counted for heads of men, then came the five hunters, when hoodlums took possession of police barracks in defiance of bullets then came the five hunters; when minister legislated from bed and made high office the prize for failure then came the five hunters; when wads of notes were kept in infant skulls with full blessing of prelates, then came the five hunters; when women grew heavy with ballot papers delivering the house entire to adulterers, then came the five hunters”.
Pardon my use of punctuation marks in the above poem because the author, the erudite Professor of English in his wisdom and in compliance with the high standard of poetry never used any punctuations but I did just that to comprehensively convey the metaphysical imports of this wonderful poem vis-a-vis the unprecedented violence in Nigeria.
The Sordid story making the rounds in newspapers and the social media is that last Friday, four students were allegedly arrested by members of the Aluu, Ikwerre community near Port Harcourt, River State, accused of stealing mobile phones and computers belonging to their fellow students and within few hours, in the broad daylight they were violently lynched to their gruesome death even as the primitive and brutal violence was recorded by some of the ‘eye –witnesses’ and/or ‘participant observers’ who then proceeded to post this insane video on the internet and the brutes who participated in the butcher of these four young Nigerian boys were captured clearly committing this atrocity and grave crime against humanity.
I watched this gory recording and wept profusely that Nigerians have lost the milk of human kindness and universal solidarity.
The police, State Security Service (SSS) and the so-called joint military task force that is usually active in catching “Crude oil thieves” were nowhere to be seen to rescue these four young Nigerian boys who were left to be butchered by some irrational and insane anarchists.
The spokesperson of the River State police had the temerity to tell the media that the mass murderers in Aluu community stopped the police from rescuing these four boys from the jungle justice that was unfortunately and callously visited on them.
Section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) gives right to life to all persons.
The offences for which these boys were so callously executed by this self-righteous crowd in Aluu community is not a capital offence but the alleged theft of common telephone handsets and some stupid computers.
Section 36(1) of the Constitution unequivocally speaks of fair hearing for crime suspects.
But why has the law enforcement regime collapsed spectacularly in Nigeria to give way to these kinds of wicked vigilante and ‘lynch mob jungle justice’ like the extra-legal execution by the Aluu community members of four young boys suspected of theft?
Sadly, Aluu community is not alone in this kind of jungle justice because even in Abuja recently, a lady was stripped naked in Garki near the minister’s office when the crowd suspected her to be one of the car snatching syndicate that unsuccessfully tried to rob a resident of his jeep. There is unfortunately what I may call ‘the Aluu evil tendency’ in each of us which must be exorcised rapidly.
The Nigerian police Force Act stated clearly in Part II, article 4 that operatives of Nigeria Police Force must maintain law and order and protect lives and property of all Nigerians.
Aluu killing shows that Nigeria does not have a functional police Force and government is notoriously not committed to pragmatically set up workable police force because most Nigerians see the police operatives as the worst violators of the principle of rule of law who encourage impunity to a point that most criminal suspects arrested by the police are let off the hook to return to unleash bigger violence on the larger society and if they are not buoyant enough to buy their freedom, they are executed in police detention centers.
Government must arrest and prosecute for murder any Nigerian who participates in mob killing of crime suspects and these mass murderers who killed those four young Nigerians must face charges of murder and punished for these heinous crimes against humanity.
The World is watching us to see whether we will treat this latest bloodshed in the notorious business-as-usual approach that other violent crimes have been so treated to our collective shame.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head, HUMAN Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria email@example.com.
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