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.