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Published On: Thu, May 30th, 2019

Blessing Okoro, Onye Eze, Nigerian police, and the show of shame

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By Charles Ogbu

Going by the reactions that trailed the encounter between the instagram lady, Blessing Okoro and the businessman owner of the house, Onyeze, it is safe to say that a reasonable number of us got no idea how a decent society operates. We don’t even have anything against jungle justice. We only pretend we do.
The real tragedy is, it was a Police man we saw in the video that handcuffed the lady and supervised the whole show of shame which was recorded and posted on the internet.
A police man!
A supposed officer of the law!
In a society where the rule of law means anything, those who put handcuff on the lady, made her bend the knee and force her to look into the camera while recanting her earlier claim of owning the house would be facing the music for violating the lady’s right to human dignity which is a fundamental human right, by the way.
You don’t use the handcuff for the purpose of humiliating someone. It is mainly for restraining the person IF NECESSARY.
It would be understandable if this jungle justice was carried out by Onyeze and Co. Unfortunately, it was arranged and supervised by the Police.
To be clear, the lady’s action was stupidly foolish. In fact, I believe she needs professional help. To claim to own another man’s house and still ‘get mind’ to be portraying the real owner as a liar ‘ontop’ his own house and even showing some building plan to support your claim of ownership is beyond disgraceful.
But, Let’s keep emotion aside, in my view, none of these constitute a crime.
And even if they did, it would still be beyond appalling for the police to determine, conclude and met out jungle justice without the judiciary like we saw in that video.
A crime is an act or omission PUNISHABLE BY THE STATE. For something to be a crime, THE LAW MUST CLEARLY SPELL IT OUT AS SUCH AND EVEN STIPULATE PUNISHMENT. It is not for you or even the police to conclude that a crime has been committed and proceed to mete out your own idea of justice on the victim. It is for the court to decide.
I have heard people say she is guilty of impersonation. And I asked how? Who did she impersonate? Claiming to own what you don’t own is no impersonation. To impersonate means to claim to be who you are not for fraudulent or criminal reason. Some say she forged the building plan. That again is not a solid case because to forge something means to make a fake copy of the original. The building plan she presented could be any building plan. So how is that forgery?
How does any of these justify a police officer depriving her of her human dignity?
Now let us even ASSUME the Blessing lady actually impersonated Onyeze and forged his building plan, forcing him (Onyeze) to fly into the country at a huge personal cost. In a society that works, the gun-wielding police man we saw in that video would still be in trouble for acting in the manner he did, thereby violating that lady’s right to dignity. The proper thing to do would have been to arrest her like they did and charge her to court IF THE POLICE REASONABLY BELIEVE THEY HAVE A CASE.
Civilization rests on the principle that we treat even our criminals better than they treated their victims.
The reason we wail against jungle justice is not necessarily because we think the victim is innocent. It is because we want a decent society where people suspected of crime or wrongdoing are given fair trial before their fate is decided.
It is a tragic irony to condemn a group of mob lynching a suspected thief in the market and still hail a group of people including a police man meting out the same mob treatment on another. The common denominator in the above two scenarios is that due process of the law which is the hallmark of any decent society was not followed. The only difference is that the Blessing lady was not lynched. But what would have happened had she refused to obey their command to kneel while on handcuff, look into the camera and recant?
They would have beaten her of course. Sadly, some of us cheering now would still have cheered. Not necessarily because we love Onyeze but because we feel the lady who made us feel like we are not trying our best is being cut to size.
Problem is, supporting rule of law only when our friend is at the receiving end of jungle justice and jettisoning it when we want to get back at our common enemy is how not tobuild a decent society.

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