While inaugurating the civilian Anti-Thief Squad, we are pressed to immediately proceed with the urgent recommendations for Nigeria and plans of our operation. The Anti-Thief Squad invites all Nigerians who are likewise appalled and irritated by thieves of whatever class and level, from petty thieves to top executive government thieves; and who appreciate the fact that stealing is the number one cause of our underdevelopment, insecurity and desperation in Nigeria, to join the squad simply by searching for the hashtag #AntiThiefSquad and sharing information and alerts on thieves and stealing in Nigeria.
It is clear that there is a problem with understanding the problem of stealing and thieves in Nigeria. There is also a deadly delay in justice for thieves. Compounding this is a sycophancy and impunity that the heftier thieves enjoy. These critical issues have created a climate of anarchy and turned Nigeria into the epicenter of Doomsday. We must transform our orientation and fix this culture deficit exigently.
I. Judicial Corporal Punishment
The application of western cultural systems where thieves are honored; where there is a delay in justice; and whereby government thieves are labeled with pleasing words like “corruption,” is not only alien to Nigeria but most dangerous when applied inefficiently. Simply put: we fail in applying European methods of dealing with thieves and even when we succeed, their method fails us. In lieu of this, there is need for us to restore our traditional, cultural and religious methods of identifying thieves and speedily prosecuting them.
Four cases in review:
The Joint Task Force (JTF), charged with preventing theft in the Niger Delta, according to a NAN release on March 30th, 2014, have requested for special court systems to prosecute oil thieves. The JTF this Sunday in Bayelsa, bitterly complained that arrested vandals are handed over to other departments which ‘grant these thieves bail,’ (basically, set them free) and the thieves return right back to vandalizing, stealing oil and killing. It was noticed that arrested alongside two Britons recently was a repeat thief, Joshua Orupere who had been arrested previously for the same crimes and handed over to the EFCC who apparently released him.
Former governor Ayo Fayose who stands accused of stealing N416 million and is being ‘prosecuted’ by the EFCC, hasbeen selected to run on the platform of the PDP. It cannot be imagined the hurt and insult this is to the minds of citizens of the state, especially the children growing up, and Nigerians as a whole. Obviously there is a problem when there is such a delay in justice and absence of justice. This alleged theft was from the 2003-226 period, yet this ‘thief’ is free and proud enough to contest in 2014, 7-10 years later, as he is able to chronically escape justice. Justice delayed they say is justice denied.
‘Senator’ Farouk Lawani is hiding from justice despite having been seen clearly with video evidence involved in the stealing of not only Nigeria’s money but also Nigeria’s trust and prosperity. Entrusted with the office to serve and protect the interests of Nigerians, this ‘lawmaker’ was caught conniving with and accepting payment from oil subsidy funds looted from the masses. His case has been delayed for two years now and suspiciously the events of his date in court, March 12th, 2014 were hid from the media, possibly due to clamor of activists for his expedient and determinate justice. Farouk is still paid from the nation’s coffer—this no doubt is a national abomination, the likes of which continue to bestow upon Nigeria the wrath of God and exposes us to the devil as is seen in the unexplainable deaths and terror around the nation.
Few days ago, a houseboy named David was caught after he beheaded his ex-boss, retired justice Olufunmilayo Timeyin, in Abeokuta. What is painful about this case is the fact that he was earlier caught stealing by now late Justice Timeyin, who had the police arrest him, only for him to be released later, as is common under our current system; and thus we mourn a productive elder, mother and retired female justice who served her nation diligently and whose only crime was her dependence on the legal system in its current reality.
In view of the few selected examples above, we do see a serious problem with our judicial and reprimand system that deserves urgent overhaul.
To further impress the need for review of the current operating manifest; it is realized that in the initial stages of Boko Haram terror, one of two main demands/problems the group of devils claimed they were crusading against, was government corruption. These malaligned members of society, no doubt, like many others easy to recruit into terrorism, were victims of the theft crises in Nigeria. They watched governors and commissioners sponsor their earlier formation, ECOMOG easily with the looted millions of dollars and watch these government thieves live in mansions and drive expensive cars, stainless, while they trampled the streets with actually no shoes. Upon their desertion by the political thief sponsors, Boko Haram , became the drug , power, money and violence thirsty monster, available to hire by the highest bidder. Nigeria’s missing/stolen billions of dollars today funds unlimited terror by this and other groups north and south; directly through ransoms paid and indirectly through malicious covert sponsorship. Easy money goes easy and finances terror to facilitate public distraction, political maneuvers and continuous looting.
The crises of Fulani marauders, though it has been recognized that most deadly incidents are those of terrorists disguising as herdsmen; is also an aggravated crises of theft without repudiation. The Fulani herd millions of naira worth of property (livestock), their entire families’ inheritance and investment over generations. Cattle rustlers have discovered that these guys are millionaires and have been killing them and stealing their cattle under cover of the cycle of violence, this has provoked deadly defense and insane attack on both sides. Likewise, herdsmen who purposefully wander into farms are serious thieves and vandals and the lack of justice for them too has reinforced the cycle of terror in the nation.
Nigeria’s legal system and corrections apparatus simply fails to address the problem of theft in Nigeria. This system is not working and if we cannot fix it, we must replace it before it eliminates us all.
Our ancestors held stealing in proper contempt and applied better repudiation for thieves. In Kemet, ancient Egypt, our Nubian ancestors dealt with thieves, with corporal punishment, including mutilation and death.
A majority of Nigerians subscribe to the Islamic faith or the Christian faith. Within the context of these faiths, stealing is not treated kindly as obtains in western societies or with impunity and praise as obtains in Nigeria today.
Islam is clear on stealing; the hand of the thief must be cut off. This does not need be substantiated.
Though in the European transmitted Christianity more popular today, as relayed from Constantinople, corporal punishment seems omitted, we must realize that incarceration is more conspicuously ‘omitted.’ The Old Testament clearly prescribes cutting the hand for thieves. In the New Testament, we find: “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” [Mathew 5:30, ASV]
Those who do not have the sin, those more morally upright of us, who are not thieves, can be the judges who literally ‘cast the first stone.’
When reading Mathew 7:1, “Judge not, lest you be judged,” it is substratal we have the patience to read up to verse 5: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Telling us that it is those of us without the grievous sin, purified, born again and sinless—enough to be redeemed—that should be the judges, not criminals; not the fellow adulterers who wished to stone an adultery suspect.
The Bible goes further to tell us how to Judge: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” [John 7:24] Embossing this point, it says in 1 Corinthians: “3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” [See also 1 Corinthians 5:1-6]
We have left matters of moral determination to the worst among us and this is why we suffer and die in shame, painful deaths in this nation. We have dumped our culture and faith for systems that we cannot operate and that serve looting and looting only and this is why we are the world’s basket of corruption (stealing) and death.
In considering cutting hands of thieves after a quick trial as a new method of addressing all thieves from the nation’s top office to the robbers of the streets; we must appreciate the barbaric aspects of incarceration and how cutting the hand is actually a more favorable method of repudiation.
When an individual is locked up for a year, 5 years, 10 years away from the family, this separation from the family, locked up in jails which are akin to zoos, is very inhumane. The parent for instance may be needed to teach, guide and address his or her children, but is unable to because he is locked up in jail among ‘animals.’ Whereas, when the hand of the corrupt officials or street thieves is cut in speedy judgment, they can immediately return to their families for all family relationships, emotional and other. The mind and heart and not the body parts are the greatest assets of humanity. Incarceration locks away the most valuable mind from the family and from possible social therapy, for durations with potential impact that can never be recovered, while saving mere body pieces. If a thieving public official’s hand is cut today, there will be sanity in our public office immediately. No one will dare give post-humus awards to other thieves.
Furthermore, studies have shown that a great percentage of thieves and other criminals punished by incarceration return to the same crimes when they are released. There is serious debate in the west as to the usefulness of the financially expensive caging, prison system.
We totally condemn any attempt at street/mob justice and street amputation. This recommendation is for a review of Nigeria’s official constitution for all thieves and very critically government thieves. This necessary form of corporal punishment is recommended to be instituted at judicial level.
II. Public Thief Records
The second point in addressing the current deadly stealing crises destroying Nigeria, is the absence of public thief records. Thieves and other criminals in Nigeria apprehended within and between states are released without the public knowing who they are and what they may have done.
In all ‘developed’ nations, mug shots are professionally taken and the criminals are entered properly into a publicly accessible database. This includes both street criminals and public-official thieves.
In Nigeria there is simply no database of thieves that helps protect prospective employers and even potential spouses. Today we are opportune with rapidly processing computers and the powerful internet which should be utilized to make available complete registries of criminals which can be searched online.
Suspected terrorists are never listed publicly for assistance in finding or at least, running from them. Criminals and government thieve are likewise not posted in a searchable database. Among the plans of the Anti-Thief Squad, is to prepare an easily accessible online thief database which will have records of suspects and convicts, both street and government. SaharaReporters recently caught the disgraced minister of Aviation stealing. Today we hear that she may be leading a political campaign for the president. This is only possible because, one, she has thus far evaded justice, and two, because we do not have a thorough, rapidly accessible display of her on an online Thief database. The Anti-Thief Squad database will host persons like Stella Oduah, Farouk Lawani, late Abacha and others caught stealing, as a form of deterrence to future thieves and to promote the development of a new culture among younger Nigerians where stealing is not glorified. Radical problems need radical solutions.
We ask all well meaning Nigerians in and out of government to join the war against thieves and promote a cultural revision and moral awakening, with the proper religious and cultural character and responses to stealing, a taboo in traditional Africa and a deadly sin in Judeo-Christianity + Islam.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.