Animals in Human Skin...

A snapshot analysis of a societal breakdown.
Let me start off by apologizing in advance for having to post these very graphic and disturbing pictures here. However I think I need the pictures to drive home the point on the urgency that is required to address this in Nigeria and to illustrate without a shadow of a doubt just how bad our societal norms have become. So kindly be warned, the images are VERY graphic and I am not in anyway happy to have to post these images, but sometimes, we needs to be shocked into reality to promote better understanding. 

I very rarely like to write about such negative issues. But I fear in this situation we all need to wake up to the current reality. 

Below are vivid pictures of “Jungle justice” being delivered upon unfortunate misguided men in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, Nigeria. They are from two separate incidents. Not too long after these incidents, we read reports of 25-40 plus students selected and gunned down in Mubi, Adamawa State. Just a few short weeks later, we woke up to the to the horror of four University of Port Harcourt students allegedly arrested by a mob in Aluu, for stealing and they were summarily beaten senseless and burnt alive. Less than a week after that, we read about the Nigerian military JTF (joint task force) in Borno State being accused of raiding a community and massacring 30 people due to an attack that led to the death of one of two of their officers. All this taking place within two to three months in Nigeria. 

On some of my initial comments on this, I noted following of the incident in Aluu,

But watch the videos. I had to make myself watch the videos. I asked earlier. How and when does a whole society, possibly with the blessings of its traditional leader, get to a point where they are inhuman enough to burn four young men alive? How does a human being and a community get to that point? This incident reflects the totality of the failure that Nigeria has gradually become. 
  • This is a failure of personal responsibility and restraint. 
  • This is a failure of communal responsibility. 
  • This is a failure of traditional leadership. 
  • This is a failure of the Nigerian security apparatus, who where not there to prevent the gruesome killings, but did show up after the fact to enact their own authorized jungle justice on those who are alleged to have committed the crimes.
  • This is a failure of the university system for not finding a solution to these repeated incidents. 
  • This overall reflects a monumental political failure of both the State and Federal governments

There are several reasons for the preponderance of such mindless violence taking place in Nigeria. One can write endlessly, as many smart “intelligent and educated” Nigerians in the Diaspora tend to do on the failures of the federal and state governments as well as the security agencies. 

But what is of grave concern here are the actions of the community. Our communities used to be safe. Our communities once had elders who would take control of all situations and figure out appropriate solutions and punishments if necessary. Our communities were organized, fair and most times, just. Yes there was a period where such barbaric acts would happen, but we appear to have evolved and left such gruesome acts behind. But now it appears the sanity has taken leave of the Nigerian community. We have become, Animals in human skin. 

The pictures below are from incidents in Abuja. As a reminder to us all, Abuja is the new capital of Nigeria, a brand new city built from the ground up. A cosmopolitan city and one of the fastest growing and developing cities in Africa (that is when you consider development restricted to the existence of brick and mortar structures alone). The skyline of Abuja is dotted with construction cranes and new buildings; the infrastructure is being expanded daily by international conglomerates from all over the world. Street lights work and traffic lights work. This is a city of educated civil servants and politicians. And this is the seat of the Nigerian government. 

But what lies beneath the construction cranes? What is going on in the belly of the city? This is what we see in the pictures below. And as the incidents in Aluu have confirmed, this is what appears to be happening in the belly of many cities in Nigeria. And I must certainly point out even at the risk of ruffling a few feathers, this is what is happening in the belly of the Nigerian society even as Christians go to church on Sunday, Wednesday and several other days of the week…as Muslims head to the Mosque for Jummat on Friday Afternoons… 

As we residents of the United States can watch three Nigerian churches on television in our living rooms half the world away from Nigeria and a Nigeria church can boast of being the largest church building in the world… As thousands of Nigerian Muslims troop back from Hajj in Mecca, upon completing a very holy pilgrimage… As our politicians can go naked before shrines to safeguard electoral victories... And finally as a Nigerian businessman tops the Forbes African billionaires list. Indeed as Nigerians thump their chests for being extremely spiritual, God fearing and economically successful, this is what is really going on in the belly of the beast. 

I would like to point out here that simply being an international cosmopolitan city does not prevent the occurrence of violence. just yesterday in the US 2012 presidential debate, President Obama noted the violence taking place in his home city of Chicago. Likewise there have been a number of assaults and even murders recently in the US capital Washington DC. What we have NOT seen however in these cities are mob actions where the mob goes as far of being absolutely determined to snuff the life out of a fellow human being. To find similar barbaric acts, we need to zip over to the equally violent areas like Taliban controlled Pakistan and Afghanistan. We do not have a monopoly of violence in our Nigerian towns and cities, it is the type and nature of violence we have that is most troubling. 

These are not easy pictures to look at, but this is what several Nigerians see on a daily basis now, and this is part of what has created the dysfunctional society that has taken over an entire nation. 

As you take a look at these pictures I will point certain aspects of the situations. I want to frame these incidents for you and take you into the space of those incidents. The people in the crowds who took part in these lynching’s and murders. A noted earlier, there are two separate incidents both in the city of Abuja. 

  • In the picture above, witness the crowd around the taxi. I stopped counting after being able to certainly count at least fifty heads. So this is a crowd of a minimum of fifty people. Think about that, fifty, strong, young and now very, very angry men and possibly a few women. 
  • Next take a look at the taxi in which they were apprehended. Note it is completed damaged. This no doubt was done as the mob forced the taxi to stop and enable them apprehend the alleged robbers. It is unknown if the taxi driver / owner was a part of the gang or an innocent man, whatever the case, the taxi, itself which had nothing to do with the incident has been destroyed. 
  • Finally, note the “citizen journalist” with camera phone at the ready, recording the scene. 

At this point above, in the situation. Most people are bystanders. Consider this, according to the reports, the man in the taxi indicted he was in distress and the people chased the taxi down and started this attack. 

What is ironic is, in most societies, one would laud this type of spontaneous action, by the citizens to come to the aid of their fellow citizen. From the report on this specific incident, the alleged victim, is unknown to the crowd, the crowd simply comes to the aid of a fellow citizen in distress. In more sane and organized societies, such actions are not only encouraged, but commended and citizens would have been identified and cited for “courageous actions” in service to the community. 

Consider this further, in the United States on the news, there have been many reports of the apathy of the people, passers by looking on an minding their own business when someone appears to be is distress. It has occurred so often in the United States that it now have a official term coined for this behavior: the “Bystanders Effect”.
In Nigeria we have the complete opposite. We have the jungle effect and mentality. The people are now the judge, jury and executioners to those apprehended for alleged crimes committed. Focus on the last word, “executioner” as we move to picture two below. 

There is only two things, I want you to take note of from the pictures above: 

  • The distance from the top of the bridge to the the bottom. That is at least two to three stories high, at approximately 8 feet a story that means that distance is anywhere from 16 feet to 30 feet in height. 
  • The material at the sides of the bridge. Those are precast concrete slabs, with perforation in them. Those slabs are at least three to five inches thick. 

We move on to the next picture and this is bad. Brace yourself.

Items to note here: 

  • They were thrown down from the bridge in the picture above. And somehow survived. 
  • Note the handcuff on their hands confirming that a security agent had indeed detained them, but one man against a mob of 50! They pushed them over the bridge. 
  • Finally, as I noted initially, look at the surface, solid concrete. As we move to the next picture 

Now keep the last picture above in your mind if you can as you process this picture above and note the following: 

  • This is after the men had been severely beaten to a pulp initially on the bridge. 
  • The two men did not pass away as hoped and expected, and a security agent intervened trying to arrest the situation, handcuffed the alleged criminals and yet they were pushed off the bridge to finish them off. 
  • As you can see from the initial picture above, after the fall, those two men where going absolutely nowhere. 
  • Note the men did not die at that point. Hence the mob came down to finish up the job. 

This is my final image on this specific terribly gruesome mob act. Above note:

  • Again, this is after the men had been pushed and fell over possibly 30 feet down onto a hard concrete floor. 
  • Note the two men are still in handcuffs, 
  • Note a person is still physically assaulting one of the alleged criminals. 
  • You see all the blood, what you are seeing is a loss of humanity. 

And now to the next gruesome pictures.

And let us frame the situation. These two men where apprehended for robbing a man of N60,000 ($381) in broad daylight in Abuja, and they were caught. “Jungle justice” was already being carried out on them and next we see this… 

Breaking down this picture we see 

  • Look above even though the hands are cut off, it appears we have at least five people taking pictures or videos on this madness 
  • Note how calm the crowd beyond is as this unfolds 
  • Note members of this mob are decently dressed persons, basically these are not illiterate people. 
  • Pay special attention to the liquid in mid-air. If you are a Nigerian you know what that is, if you are not let me tell you. That is in all likelihood, either Petrol (gasoline), or Kerosene, 
  • The purpose? Set them on fire, as we can see they are STILL ALIVE 
  • Finally look at the two men. One we can see is completely incapacitated and the other pleads to live. And now to the next picture 

In this picture, I see the full display of the Animals our society has now degenerated into, what do we see here. Forget about the two men and take your attention to the crowd and note these three critical points: 
  1. The two men on the left hand side: This is possibly either an extension of the situation of two men joking as this serious incident unfolds.
  2. Note the one man smiling / laughing at the top left hand of the picture during such a gruesome incident a person has the ability to laugh. 
  3. Observe the man behind the policeman. He is in motion to continue to attack the two men. Digest this detail: Despite the presence of the constituted local authority, the police, the mob CONTINUES to push to execute jungle justice on the two men. A complete disregard of the constituted authority. 
Consider this, the picture above shows why in Nigeria you always would hear the police had to “shoot in the air” we see graphically why this is done… The people otherwise would ignore the police. 
  • And I come to the policeman: Regardless of the inept nature of the Nigeria police, we can see at least in this picture, ONE policeman completely outnumbered and yet he is doing what he can to prevent a total and complete lynching from taking place. Note the policeman is either a corporal or sergeant. 
  • Don’t forget we saw gasoline being doused on these two men. Without that policemen they would have been on fire by now. 
  • Now finally look at the two men. Stark naked. Done by the mob. 
  • Look at the back of the man on the ground, and observe the detailed marks as a result of a complete and savage beating by the mob on hand. Observe the bloody discolorations and patterns on his back 
  • Then take a close look at the second man. We do not see is face, but you can see in his posture a strange and shocking state of mind… He has given up and is completely devoid of power to resist. In essence he appears ready to die. 
  • The blood on his face indicates the savage beaten he has endured; he is barely able to keep himself upright. 
  • Finally look back up at the bystanders and perpetrators and the mob, and they do not seem to realize something really sad in Nigeria… Anyone of them could be in the place of the two men on the ground with a simple change in circumstance OR the shouts from an unknown person on the street. 

That is the behavior of an animal. The Hyena who hunts in packs today fails to realize that he could be the dinner of a Lion tomorrow. Why? Because in the jungle, anything goes. 
So the questions I have for you all are:

  1. What makes a man individually get to a point where it becomes "entertainment" to record mob lynching on video? 
  2. More troubling is what makes a society act in such a manner? How come no one in the crowd is calling for mercy and asking for the men to be spared and handed over the authorities? 
  3. What makes a man have disregard for the constituted authority visibly on hand and hope ot continue to administer mob justice? 
  4. When does a man, or people get to a point where even after visiting severe punishment upon people unknown to them and devoid of a free and fair trail in the court of law throw them off a bridge with the goal to finish them off? 
  5. What makes them go down into the gully and continue to brutalize the two completely incapacitated and non responsive or resistant men with the specific goal to snuff out even last breath of life in them. 
  6. How do such men go home and sleep well at night? 
  7. And finally, if any of those men were put into positions of authority tomorrow, what would be the result? 
Our governments might be bad. Our leaders might be corrupt, and inept. Those can be fixed with elections. Consider that fact that Nigeria is not at war with any other country. And yet we see warlike situations taking place. Nigeria is a country at war with itself.However after observing these incidents as a well as the murders in Aluu, which have all taken place in 2012. This is concrete evidence that the humanity of our society is eroding. It is a fast freefall of decline. And the most important challenge all of us as Nigerians have today is to do what we can to pull on the emergency brakes to slow down and stop the freefall.
All hands need to be on deck. 

Your challenge, my challenge, our collective challenge is to figure out what we can do to help stop the freefall of the Nigerian society. It does not matter what religion or tribe you belong to or what you believe in. it does not matter if you support or are against the government. It does not matter if those men where guilty or not guilty. What matters is our society is loosing its humanity, animistic tendencies are taking over. Sanity and order needs to be restored within the Nigerian society and community, if not the chaos and disorder will consume all, as it is we are just 10 minutes from Somalia.


  1. A funny down up take on this issue. What is government if not to hold the society in cohesion. Where government breaks down, where society fails, individualism sets in. That is what you are witnessing in Nigeria. The break down of government and society as a result of the corrupt and corrupting system. It is not because we are Animals in human skin. It is because there is no restraint from the norms, mores, customs, traditions and laws of the state.

    According to Thomas Hobbes man has unfettered natural rights to be the government over himself; to order his life the way he wanted; to defend his territory on the basis of laws he made for himself. And that life at this state of man was brutish, nasty and short. So in order to enjoy a more fulfilling life man agreed to give up some of his rights to society or government in a social contract in exchange for the protection of his remaining rights. It is the failure of the Nigerian state to carry out the social contract of protecting the remaining rights that is inexorably leading Nigerians into rescinding that social contract they had with the government and descending into that state where life is nasty, brutish and short. We need leadership.

    1. Jay,

      It is not that you are incorrect about the need for leadership in Nigeria to address this madness. However, let me use one singular example to illustrate why the people also need to wake up. The Trayvon Martin case. George Zimmerman as we have read claims he as neighborhood vigilante. He was armed with his own legally registered personal weapon.

      So the question then is, in the United States of America, in Florida for that matter with a very well equipped and staffed police force and a state with good leadership, why is a neighborhood vigilante group required and allowed to exist?

      Yes leadership is needed, but the people need to act civilized not like animals. If the people fail to act civilized they will never get a civilized government. And Nigeria will continue to be plagued by failed leadership. Remember in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

  2. I agree to the extent that it is from the people leadership springs. We need leadership to impart in us the need to behave in certain way. From whence this kind of leadership comes, I don't know. SINCE we are like herd of sheep; we need shepharding to live like humans.. It takes leadership to socialized man to act in a particular way. History would bear me out on this.


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