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Lack of Trust in Law Enforcement Agencies Blamed for Jungle Justice in Nigeria

Abuja, Nigeria. January 28th , 2014– Latest weekly poll results released by NOIPolls Limited have revealed that 51% of Nigerians, representing the majority, attribute the high prevalence of jungle justice in the country to a “lack of trust in the law enforcement agencies”.  In addition, the majority of Nigerians (94%) affirm there is a high prevalence of jungle justice/mob attack in Nigeria and describes it as “a wicked and barbaric act” (60%). More findings revealed that almost half of Nigerians (an alarming 43%)have personally witnessed these acts of jungle justice/mob attacks in their localities, while 16%have known the victims of jungle justice/mob attacks. These were the key findings from theJungle Justice/Mob Attack in Nigeria Snap Poll conducted in the week of January 20th 2014.

Jungle justice has been defined as when a population, precisely an irate mob, takes into their hands the right to execute punishment on alleged offenders of a heinous crime[1]. Jungle justice/mob attacks are generally characterised by the stripping of accused persons of their fundamental human right of fair hearing and the opportunity to defend themselves. The occurrence and increasing frequency of these attacks that sometimes result in the extra judicial killing of Nigerians has generated growing concern among the populace. With several cases being reported all over Nigeria, some documented in the media include the gruesome killings in October 2012 of four undergraduate students of the University of Port Harcourt for allegedly stealing phones and laptops commonly referred to as “Aluu 4”. In another hideous incident, a 12-year-old boy was burnt alive in the Ikorodu area of Lagos for allegedly attempting to lure and kidnap another boy.

Anecdotal evidence has revealed that some Nigerians engage in jungle justice/mob attack acts under the canopy of vigilante groups. An instance is the recent incident in Ejigbo Local Government of Lagos State where three young women were stripped naked and sexually assaulted for allegedly stealing pepper in the market by members of the vigilante group responsible for security in the market. The rising occurrence of Jungle justice/mob attacks has generated several reactions from different groups of Nigerians. One of which is the recent protest march organised by Nollywood stars campaigning against domestic violence and jungle justice in Nigeria stimulated by the same case of the three women in Ejigbo market in Lagos State.[2]

Against this background, NOIPolls conducted its recent poll on Jungle Justice/ mob attack to seek the views of Nigerians on the prevalence of the issue, causes as well as possible measure to curb the incidence of Jungle Justice in Nigeria.

Respondent to the poll were asked six specific questions.  The first question sought the opinion of Nigerians regarding the occurrence of jungle justice or mob attacks. Respondents were asked: In your opinion, to what extent are acts of jungle justice or mob attacks prevalent in Nigeria? The overall majority (94%: 65%+29%) say the acts of jungle justice or mob attacks are prevalent in Nigeria while only 6% of the respondents indicated that it is “not prevalent at all”.

Analysis according to geo-political zones revealed that all respondents from the North-East zone (100%) were of the opinion that the acts of jungle justice or mob attacks are prevalent in the country. This is followed by the South-West zone with 94% while the North-West and the South-South zones recorded 93% each. In addition, the South-East zone had the highest (10%)proportion of respondents that say it is “not prevalent at all.

[1] Jungle Justice, the Most Salient Sign of a Dysfunctional System: A Comparative Analysis of the Bakassi Boys and Aluu Community – Chinyere Ugomma Eze-Nliam

Subsequently, in order to ascertain the thoughts of Nigerians regarding jungle justice, respondents were asked: In your own words, how would you describe the acts of jungle justice or mob attack? Findings reveal varied responses. Overall, the majority of Nigerians(60%) describe jungle justice or mob attacks as “a wicked and barbaric act”, while 19% describe it as “people taking law into their hands”. Furthermore, 5% say it is a “wrong act of punishment” and another 5% say “it is unjust and unlawful” also 4% say it is dehumanising. On the contrary, a meager 4% have the view that “it is good sometimes in order to deter others” from criminal acts.

From the geo-political zones perspective, the North-West zone (57%) had the highest proportion of respondents that believe “it’s a wicked and barbaric act” and the North-East and North-West zones both had same and highest (24%) proportion of Nigerians who describe jungle justice/mob attacks as “people taking the law into their hands”. Also, the North-East zone(12%) represented the majority of respondents that think “it is good sometimes in order to deter others”.

Furthermore, in order to establish the proportion of Nigerians who have witnessed  any act of Jungle justice/mob attacks, respondents were asked: Have you personally witnessed any act of jungle justice or mob attack in your locality? The results reveal that almost half of Nigerians (an alarming 43%) have personally witnessed the act of jungle justice in their localities while 57% have never been witnesses. It is noteworthy to know that more male Nigerians (49%) than females (36%) have been witnesses of jungle justice/ mob attack acts.

Further analysis across geo-political zones illustrates that the North-East and South-East zones had the same and highest proportions (50%) of respondents that have been witnesses of acts of jungle justice. This is followed by the North-Central zone with 45%.

The fourth question aimed to measure the proportion of Nigerians who know victims of Jungle justice/mob attack acts, respondents were asked: Do you know any victim of acts of jungle justice or mob attack in your locality? Findings revealed that the majority (84%) of Nigerians claim they do not know any victim of jungle justice/mob attack while 16% know victims of jungle justice in their locality. The results also depicts that more males (23%) than females(9%) know victims of jungle justice/mob attacks.

An assessment by geo-political zones reveals that the South-South zone with 19% accounts for the highest proportion of respondents who know victims of jungle justice/ mob attack. This is followed by the North-East zone with 18% and the North-Central zone with 16%. 

Subsequently, respondents were asked: In your opinion, what are the factor(s) responsible for the prevalence of jungle justice or mob attacks in the country?Majority (51%) of Nigerians attributed the prevalence of jungle justice to a “lack of trust in law enforcement agencies” this is followed by 43% who blame the prevalence to “illiteracy/lack of awareness of laws” and 26% of respondents who blame it on “lack of trust in the Nigerian judicial system”. Other factors include “the demand for quick criminal justice” 13%, “Religious/cultural beliefs” 8% and “Unemployment” 6%.

From the geo-political zone standpoint, the North-West zone (61%) accounts for the highest proportion of respondents that attributes the prevalence of jungle justice to “lack of trust on law enforcement agencies”. While the North-Central zone (53%) had the highest proportion that blames the acts on “illiteracy/lack of awareness on laws” and the South-East zone (35%) had the highest proportion of respondents that blame the prevalence on “lack of trust on the Nigerian judicial system.

Finally, in order to seek public opinion on how these attacks can be curbed, respondents were asked: What measure(s) do you feel could be taken to curb the acts of jungle justice or mob attack in Nigeria?Theoverall majority (50%) suggested that in order to curtail jungle justice, more “awareness on the rule of law / constitution” should be created. This is followed by 37% of the respondents who suggest there should be “highly effective law enforcement operatives” and 22% who advocate for “punishment for offenders”. In addition, while20% of the respondents suggest “timely enforcement of laws”, a relatively small 4% think the creation of employment would curb the prevalence of jungle justice/mob attack in Nigeria.

Analysis based on geo-political zone reveals that the North-East zone (62%) has the highest proportion of Nigerians that suggest “awareness on the rule of laws / constitution” should be created while the North-East zone accounts for the highest proportion of respondents that advocate for “highly effective law enforcement operatives”. In addition, the highest proportion of respondents that advocate “punishment for offenders”, were from the North-West zone with 27%.

In conclusion, the findings from these current polls have revealed that the majority of Nigerians (94%) affirm there is a high prevalence of jungle justice/mob attack in Nigeria and the majority (53%) describe it as “a bad act”. More findings reveal that 43% of Nigerians have personally witnessed the acts of jungle justice/mob attack in their localities and 16% know victims of jungle justice/mob attacks. Furthermore, the poll revealed that 51%of Nigerians, representing the majority, have attributed the prevalence of jungle justice to “lack of trust on the law enforcement agencies while 43% blame “illiteracy/lack of awareness of law”. In addition, 50% of the respondents identified awareness of rule of law/ constitution as a measure for curb the acts of jungle justice/mob attack in Nigeria. Finally, while efforts are being made to create awareness of the rule of law, it is also pertinent that urgent attention be given to other identified facets of the issue, especially those associated with lack of trust in law enforcement and the judiciary system as addressing these will create a ripple effect that will ultimately curb the incidence of jungle justice in Nigeria.

Survey Methods

The opinion poll was conducted in January 20th to 22nd 2014. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise – within a range of plus or minus 3%. NOIPolls Limited, No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa, which works in technical partnership with the Gallup Organisation (USA), to conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at


This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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