Yardstick for weight of sin

In many Nigerian homes, taking something that didn’t belong to one without express permission from the elder or the owner is seen as a serious offence. So much so that a child who helps herself to a piece cookie is often in for a serious punishment.

Thieves don’t go to heaven, church will say.

‘Ile ti a f’ito mo, iri ni yio wo (the house built with saliva will fell by dew) the community will say.

‘Do not tarnish the good name of the family.’ Parents will constantly remind one.

I was about 10 years old the first time I saw a dead person floating at a stream by the main road at Old NEPA area. It was around 8:30am on my way to school. A large crowd gathered to see if anyone recognises the dead body.

He was a young man perhaps in his 20s, he had gone for a robbery the night before with his gang. His mates escaped, he was the unlucky one as he was caught.

If a robber is caught in Nigeria, more often than not s/he is a goner. The person who did the killing disposes the body in the open, public usually don’t talk about who did the killing – we are just glad the thief is dead.

Because jungle justice means one down.

Last week I read a story of a robber who went with his friends to steal a *generator and television set in Mararaba, Abuja. Two escaped, one caught. The one that was unlucky to be caught is here:

Apologies for the gory image. Images like this one shows the value we placed on human lives.

Most of these petty thieves are the same young guys wasting their lives away online to defend our corrupt politicians. They kill for politicians, they attend court orders for/with them, they stalk innocent citizens both on the streets and online for them.

And when politicians no longer needed their service, they returned to the streets to continue to live the lives they have enjoyed.

Living off others.

What I still found ironic in Nigeria is the way we arrive at conclusions of appropriate punishment for thieves and burglars. Unanimously, we condemn out load that thievery of any kind is bad. Because of this we seldom show empathy to any thieves pelted with jungle justice.


Almost everyday now we hear about another Nigerian civil servants returning stolen fund, most of them are highly celebrated. Actually their trips to the court is another Owambe.

Some of the confession coming out is so disgusting that I am seen more clearly why many people think all Nigerians are inherently corrupt.

Anyways, the latest I heard was this guy Alex Badeh who bought a property worth of ₦320M (today’s $1.6M) for his son, and that is just one.

Now, one would ask how did a Chief of Defence Staff had this much authority on fund belonging to Nigeria Air Force?

If as a nation we condemn thievery of any kind, why is it that petty thieves in our land are the ones that almost never had any chance of defending themselves?

Why is it that the higher the amount of public money stolen, the greater the chance of being celebrated and walking out freely?

If Buhari has just one thing to do and be remembered for, it will have to be for him to not only recover the fund but also to make sure there are consequences for the ‘big’ thieves too.

Categories: Nigeria, Politics

Tags: , , ,

11 replies

  1. Fola, this is an eye opener for me! It is a shame that for petty thievery in homes for cookies, the punishment is severe but for the big crooks it is lacking. For any country to rise or flourish, corruption must be removed 100%. Thanks for sharing this sad state of things in Nigeria.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really don’t believe in jungle justice, I saw a clip of a necklace murder committed in South Africa, it was horrible. People were burnt alive in the street.

    If criminals are apprehended, a ‘citizen’s arrest’ should be carried out until the police arrive and complete the process the legal way.

    But to your point of punishing those higher up the criminal ladder, I can agree. Iran ( a no nonsense country) adopted dishing out the death penalty to those caught defrauding the state. The accused Mr Babak Zanjani is accused of embezzling $2.7 billion from Iran, that relies heavily on oil revenues. The only hope for Mr Zanjani is to refund the money, when that occurs his death sentence will be commuted. I like the rationale provided by their president Mr Hassan Rouhani “If we find a corrupt person, we need to identify the roots and dry them up because we can not have economic revival where corruption is present.” So far Mr Zanjani has not blinked ie cooperated.
    Here is the link http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-08/iran-says-billionaire-can-evade-death-sentence-by-returning-cash.

    None of the length ‘court proceedings’ we witness in Nigeria, throw them in prison first with the serious conviction of the death penalty, you will then see how quickly they cough up the money – as they only care for their own skin. If they don’t co-operate, others will heed the lesson and steer well clear of fraud.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think getting to the root and weeding them all out is what is going on in Nigeria presently. Reportedly, the Owambe style supports for EFCC accused individuals was because significant number of those in the senate had one or more case of corruption against them.

      Then you wondered why do we always have to have someone in position of power whose hand is already tainted? It’s the trend that must end.

      Thanks for the link, that clip is awful, I had to watch through squinted eyes. I agree with you, I have never believed in jungle justice, it is not right on many levels. Often the crowd have lots of young people – this is why we have repeated cases like this.

      I know this video is from SA but it mirrors Nigeria too. Usually if it is Yoruba on Yoruba or Igbo on Igbo etc we would not hear any outcry, however, if it was Fulani on Igbo, then we all cry for justice.

      Violence of any sort is insane, but I hope for a day that we will all condemn injustice in unity regardless of where it happened. I think people are extremely angry, we were told to bottle it all up and get on with lives.

      Great suggestion re waiting for police to do their job, for too long people have no trust in the police for so many obvious reasons, hopefully as we see more of this, attitude might change.


      • FK, I’m not so easily convinced that what we are seeing in Nigeria now regards prosecuting those who have defrauded the state is genuine or even sustained. We’ve seen this all before, and before you know it, it will be business as usual ie stealing will continue. I think this will have to be sustained across several administrations and the ‘big fish’ must also be caught and processed in the courts in a timely manner. Until then, I view this as a ‘show trial’, to create the impression that things are really changing, but in reality things are not. Wasn’t Buhari in power before, and he implemented some innovative reforms, but what happened when his administration suddenly came to an end? It was business as usual – fraud and corruption took centre stage. ‘Time will tell’ as they say…

        Yes, I’m fully aware that the clip was from South Africa, like you said – this is nothing new to Nigeria, the same thing occurs there also. Like so many things our emotional reaction is viewed through the lens of ethnicity – which we all know is wrong, yet it persists from one generation to the next.

        Because people are angry, this should not be used as an excuse by the guilty persons to do as they like to the victim. This should be seriously discouraged and police must ‘step up to the plate’, otherwise the innocent could just as easily fall victim – to the blind rage that exists on the streets. There are better ways of doing things, and it is stupid to ignore those in favour of uncivilsed behaviour such as this.

        I totally agree with your opinion towards violence.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ditto! Sure it is show trial until something tangible happens.

          I think our leaders are coward, afraid of the ripple effect prosecuting one or a few looters might cause. I’d say bring it on, get all that have put the country in this misery – it wouldn’t be the end of the Nigeria and lesson will be learned.

          Well on Buhari, if you look at both major political parties now, it’s more like one. These guys are only in one party as long as they believed they’re protected – it’s a joke. Buhari will have to make rapid Uturn from certain big people to truly serve Nigeria.


          • You hit the nail on the head, with the political set up now and how compromised Buhari is. We will see if Buhari has the mettle to take some big names to court, or even better like Iran, arrest the individual first, then start the proceedings. This I doubt very much given his age and previous experience when he became too ambitious. I wish him well.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Lol @ “Why is it that the higher the amount of public money stolen, the greater the chance of being celebrated and walking out freely?”

    Ah, the ridiculous way that thievery is assessed in Nigeria is a paradox of sorts. It’s as though stealing big is the safer way to steal, if at all stealing must be done.

    Your well-written post reminds me of a quote that I once saw-

    “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office”- Aesop (Greek slave & fables author, 620 BC- 560 BC)

    The irony is that this imbalance has followed us right from the stone age to the techy dot-com era. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

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