I try to follow Reno with my brain and not my emotions.
I discovered a while back that when a person is disliked for a particular reason or because of political leaning, we tend to adopt the all or nothing approach.
So, if you have disliked how Reno Omokri campaigned for Goodluck Jonathan; then you are most likely to dismiss everything he says. Because of the Wendell Smith matter in which he was accused of using the name to stir up the polity; a lot of people would like to dismiss what he says as falsehood, political talk or sponsored speech.
I am trying to be objective. To take each of his opinions and weigh for their individual merit and not against the total scale of his believability.
A video of a student, Deborah Samuel, being burnt to death was circulated about a week ago. She was accused of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed and subsequently lynched.
Most of the well-read Muslim Northerners were concerned with the reaction to this disturbing news. Their concern was mostly centered on how this feeds the Northern Muslim stereotype. They do not want to be defined as intolerant, fanatical and bloodthirsty. Reactions to this unfortunate incident contained the whole of the Northern youth in a single loop. The narrative did not exclude anyone.
However, well-meaning people like Reno Omokri were quick to try to debunk this stereotype. I started seeing stories of how jungle justice was not just a thing of the North; but could be found across Nigeria. People spoke about suspected thieves being caught and burnt with old tyres.
The general aim was so that we see the Northern youth as similar to any youth in any part of this country.
“If jungle justice has not defined the teeming youth in Lagos, then no one should do the same to the people of Sokoto…” that was what was being said.
Having lived in the North for almost all of my formative years; I just kept laughing at this attempt to draw parallels between religious lynching and jungle justice in the West. Suspecting someone of a crime and killing that person is a crime. When a thief steals, or a child abductor snatches a child, we are supposed to involve the police for prosecution.
What happened in Sokoto is different, no matter how people try to make it look the same.
What do the laws of our land say about blasphemy? Does that even exist in our constitution? Have we defined this as a crime? Even if it is a crime, who determines guilt and who metes out punishment? Should a non-Muslim be tried according to Sharia laws?
A girl is killed before any real questions are asked in a part of the country in which such killings have happened many times without number.
What is the rush to claim that the Northern youth are just like youth all over the country? Are they?
I condemn extrajudicial killings of all forms. None is better than the other. A person should have a chance through a trial to determine guilt. Mistakes happen. Lies can be told. Many innocent people have died because of a haste to mete out punishment for their supposed guilt.
So, I am not going to justify jungle justice in Lagos.
But Lagos is not Sokoto.
What happens in the name of religion up North is very different from jungle justice in other parts of the nation. It is laughable when people try to equate them. Die na die but not all deaths are the same.
What is different then?
People were arrested in connection to the lynching of Deborah Samuel. An irate mob went to demand their release. This led to a clash with the police in which one person was reported dead. Then a curfew followed. News of religious unrest started coming in from Sokoto.
When a suspected phone thief is killed, if arrests are made, whole communities do not resort to violence to justify the killing of a suspected phone thief. The act of jungle justice is condemned without fear of reprisal.
But in the North, it is a different story. There is unrest not because jungle justice was carried out on Deborah Samuel but because the suspected killers were arrested.
The North is not like the South or any part of Nigeria in many ways. The fact that presidential candidates are fearful of condemning this killing tells you we are not the same. The death of this young lady is applauded in many Northern circles because they believe she got what she deserved.
We can all condemn jungle justice. But let us not in any way compare what happens in the North with what happens elsewhere.
We are not the same people.