Lagos State Government has issued a strong warning to residents who may be tempted to deliver instant punishment or jungle justice by lynching, burning or killing suspected criminals.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, warned that full weight of the law would be brought to bear on anyone caught engaging in jungle justice, no matter what the alleged criminal could have done.
He noted that anybody caught beating; burning or killing any suspect whether alone or in a mob is himself engaging in a serious criminal act and is liable to prosecution and punishment.
The Attorney-General said the warning became pertinent following press reports that some people were attacked in the State based on mere allegations of kidnapping, stealing or ritual killing.
He said the State Government highly condemned these attacks, adding that the suspects might easily have been wrongly accused.
‘Even if they did commit the alleged offence, there is a process for prosecuting and showing the evidence in court so that proven criminals can be properly punished according to the law’, he emphasized.
The Attorney -General gave instances of a woman recently accused of attempting to kidnap three primary school pupils in the Abule-Egba area and another who was alleged to have kidnapped two children at Iyana-Ipaja and both were reportedly lynched by angry mobs.
Ipaye warned that the State would not tolerate any such attacks on any suspect and urged any citizen who thought a crime had been committed to report or hand over the suspect to any police station, any security or the law enforcement agents in the area.
He added that as kidnapping and other criminal acts were condemnable, it is equally unacceptable for citizens to take laws into their own hands by summarily punishing or killing those suspected of any criminal act.
“The mob may well be wrong and the helpless victim may be anyone’s child or relative”, he noted. Ipaye therefore warned that even if the mob was right, instant justice could never be the answer in any civilized community.