What is a reprisal? It is defined as the resorting to the use of
force, short of war, in retaliation for damage or loss suffered. Typically the
term is used to refer to instances where a disaffected community takes the law
into its own hands and attacks the "other" community from whence it
has judged that the perpetrators of the injustice it suffered hail.
A reprisal is, however, a double and often worse crime
than the initial offence. Whereas the initial offence may have been accidental
and may have had fewer victims, more innocent victims are killed deliberately
in typical reprisal attacks. There is premeditation with reprisal violence.
Reprisal attacks follow the Genocidal Killing theory where all people belonging to
the group from within which perpetrators are suspected to have emanated, are
automatically judged culpable in the acts of harm inflicted on a member or
members of the now retaliating clan.
In reality, under a functional State, they are not reprisals but
new barbaric aggressions. Not a single innocent victim who did not participate
in the crime should ever be hurt or killed for a crime he was not directly part
of and perhaps even objected to and protested against.
“...let not the
hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be
just: that is next to piety: and fear God.” Quran 5:8
Perpetrators must only be convicted by legitimate courts. If the
police fail to investigate and the courts fail to convict, then the crime has
been transferred to the State which loses its legitimacy. The State becomes the
perpetrator, the absolute culprit and "enemy."
The only long lasting solution to the illegal and immoral acts
of reprisal mob justice is a government that postures itself to stop people
becoming barbaric terrorists in response to a lack of *governance. Note the
real infraction–a lack of governance. The reprisal act does not address or cure
the infraction(s) but rather exacerbates societal chaos and progresses the
failure of society.
A good government must strive to provide two key things/changes:
1. Adequate recourse for victims while ensuring trust in the
2. Must loudly broadcast that counter-perpetrators (reprisalists) who take the
law into their hands no matter the injustice they have faced will be severely
punished. And it must be serious about this an seriously proceed to
enforce this prohibition.
On the part of the victims, they must realize that the real
enemy, when they are maltreated by a citizen and the State fails to investigate
and give them justice is no longer simply the perpetrator and definitely not
his clan, but the injustice has now been transferred to the State. If they must
personally seek recourse and redress, it must be with and against the
State and not the clan.
Nigerians wait for a good government.
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