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Monday, December 23, 2013

The ALUU Four: Its Higher Significance

Just over a year ago, four young men in their late teens and early twenties, all students of the University of Port Harcourt, were brutally murdered in a community called Aluu in Port Harcourt, Nigeria following an allegation of robbery. Barely a few days afterwards, the internet and social media platforms were inundated with videos and pictures of their murder. Once the Police had established that these young men in their prime were no robbers, a public outrage for justice followed. They were ordinary students who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

On reflection, it appeared that most of the outrage was not as a result of the horrific way they were lynched and set ablaze by an angry mob, it was actually because they were in fact ‘four innocent young students’ who were wrongfully “convicted” by jungle justice and “summarily executed” by an angry mob. The truth is, countless number of young men whose name we may never learn have been victims of this same fate for offences ranging from alleged stealing of soft drinks or money to sexual assault. And despite the mass outrage, many more men have been murdered the same way since the Aluu Four tragedy.

Even more gut wrenching are videos of young women being stripped naked and subjected to the most humiliating and inhuman treatment because they allegedly stole a blackberry phone or were ‘indecently’ dressed. Some of the videos feature voices of members of the crowd saying things like “that serves them right! They should know better than steal next time.” And sadly we hear of ‘Curative’ rape for lesbian women and most times the perpetrators are never caught or prosecuted even when in some cases their faces and voices were captured on camera.

Nelson Mandela once said that The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children [youths].” The Nigerian government indifference to the barbaric treatment of its young people is symptomatic of its true character – ‘it does not care’. The government has ensured young Nigerians stay hungry, jobless, out of school and ultimately idle and unthinking. Young people feel vulnerable, disempowered and systematically brainwashed into believing that they will never be good enough to take on positions of authority as youths.

While the young Nigerians waste away, filled with anger and frustration; leadership continue to rests on the tired and corrupt shoulders of people old enough to be our grandfathers and grandmothers, and tired enough to be retired and out of office. Yet they stay on; yet they squander our future wealth, energy and resources. Young Nigerians are now so morally desensitized, mentally numb and intellectually bankrupt that if they were ever called for jury service, to preside over a case in a mob court, of their fellow youths, the accused, stand no chance. The only sentence to be handed down is death, carried out in the most gruesome fashion, with ‘No appeal’! Young Nigerians have lost faith in the Nigerian judicial system – because the courts never seem to deliver ‘proper’ justice. After all, many corrupt officials are let off with a slap on their wrist for embezzling billions of dollars. 

If we have learnt anything from the ALUU four, it is that we must channel our anger towards the right causes and people. Those who would rather have us kill ourselves so they can continue their maleficent looting. For change to occur, the Nigerian youth must personalize this tragedy, because each of them can potentially suffer the same fate. They should pause, think, think and think some more. It could be me today, you tomorrow or a young woman/man whose only crime was being a Nigerian in the midst of an angry Nigerian mob.

It is not about not being in the wrong company, it is not about having a good reputation always. It is that if at anytime, our reputation or moral character is ever called into question, we will never get a fair trial amongst our peers - our jurors, our spectators; our executioners!

But all said and done, I still have faith and explicit trust in my peers – the Nigerian youth- that they have the abilities and capabilities, not only to turn around the tide of anger, violence and jungle justice but also to join hands in building the Nigeria we wish for ourselves and our children. We can save ourselves today and transform tomorrow for the next generation: A corruption free Nigeria – one where the judicial system is highly revered and respected and one where rule of law reigns and respect for lives and human rights is the hallmark of daily coexistence; yes A Nigeria where young people of all backgrounds are celebrated and enabled to be active participants in democracy and governance at all levels. 

That’s my dream.

God Bless Nigeria!

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