Just how many
people are murdered on Nigerian streets through so-called mob justice is not
known. But it is a phenomenon every Nigerian is aware of, and the vast majority
are horrified by, as was apparent in the public outrage following the lynching
of the “Port Harcourt 4” in October last year. Yet these acts of murder all
happen because good people stand aside – and don’t attempt to stop them.
The discovery of a
harrowing video of a twelve year old boy called Samuel being lynched has led to
a group of Nigerians launching a new online campaign aimed at all Nigerians
called “Don’t Walk Away”. What is so special about this film is that it is shot
by a professional film maker Abimbola Ogunsanya
who came across the incident by
chance in a Lagos street several years ago. The subsequent film has hardly been
seen in Nigeria, but when discovered recently it was seen to be so unique and
important that is was deemed essential to release it to stimulate a national
What has made an
impression on “Don’t Walk Away” supporters such as Femi Kuti is not so much the
horror of Samuel’s ghastly death, as the extraordinary dignity of the little
boy who managed to tell his life story in a two-minute interview while
surrounded by a mob baying for his blood. His articulate account of how he found himself
begging on the streets of Lagos shows him to have been both intelligent and almost
certainly innocent of the crime of “baby stealing” he was killed for.
When members of the
mob were interviewed before the murder they were unable to give specifics of
what Samuel was accused of. One commented that “They said he wanted to
kidnap a child at a school” and was unable to say exactly where. The fact that
he knew nothing about the accusation did not stop him being a main perpetrator
of the crime, pouring petrol onto Samuel before he was ignited.
Samuel’s story is a
vivid example of the gross injustice and horrific cruelty of mob killing.
“Don’t Walk Away” campaigners hope it will touch the hearts of millions when it
is released on the internet. The campaign leaders believe this will launch a
national debate on mob violence – or ‘jungle justice’ – and how people can be
motivated to intervene and prevent future lynching.
On Wednesday 3rd July “Don’t Walk Away” was launched at The New Unity Centre, Isaac John Street,
GRA, Ikeja, Lagos at 10.30am. The film will be shown and follow up activities
announced. A website www.dontwalkaway.org.ngis up
and running, and after the 3rd of July the film will be online.
“We want people to
go online, watch the film and post their reactions on the comments box”
commented “Don’t Walk Away’s” media coordinator, Charles Urhoboghara. “And we
want them to take a pledge to not walk away if an accusation is made, and say
no to mob justice”. The campaign aims to gather a million supporters and is
asking supporters to post photos of themselves raising their hand to say no to
has not shown the video of Samuel’s death until now, because he wanted to be
sure that its release would lead to something positive emerging from this
tragedy. “What I saw, had a big impact
on me. I could do nothing to help at the
time but now I hope that the horror of what happened to Samuel will give people
who are around when similar events start the courage they need not to stand by
but to unite to stop it”.
Mob justice needs
to be stopped before it starts. When the finger of accusation is raised, and
before the thugs move in and take over, we need to raise a hand and say no to
‘justice’ on the streets. The solution to mob justice starts with all of us.
The Campaign aims
· Stimulate a discussion and action on
stopping mob justice in Nigeria
· Get 1 million Nigerians and more to take a
pledge that they will raise a hand to say no to mob justice if they are around before
a potential mob justice event starts.
platform where people can post their views and experiences of mob justice.
The following people can be
contacted for comment on the Don’t Walk Away Campaign:
· Jika Attoh,
Telephone +234 806 020 9070, firstname.lastname@example.org
· Kayode Olanorin, +234 (0)809 9924 316 email@example.com
· Ibrahim Ilyasu, +234 703 210 4656, firstname.lastname@example.org
Urhoboghara, +234 803 344 8235, +234
809 844 8235