Man killed for stealing fowls in Calabar
By Joseph Kingston, Calabar
Reactions have continued to trail the brutal killing of a man, identified as Victor, who was alleged to have stolen fowls at Abitu Avenue in Calabar South local government area of Cross River State
Our reporter gathered that Victor was dispatched to the great beyond at about 5.00am of Tuesday by the angry mob who said he was fond of stealing things like car battery, generators and livestock including chickens, in the neighbourhood.
A resident of the area, Eyo Akpan, said vigilante group caught Victor red handed while trying to escape with a bag full of fowls suspected to have been stolen from a nearby poultry farm, and that despite being caught, the suspected thief confronted the vigilance groups and brought out a machete and a big hammer to attack them, thereby leading to mob action.
He said: “The victim has been a notorious criminal and a leader of one of the gangs that extort money and collect illegal tickets. Besides, he had been stealing items such as car battery, radios, TV sets, generators and livestock within the neighbourhood.
“Most times residents were afraid of confronting him. But we prayed that one day he would meet his Waterloo. Last year, he was caught by a group of boys coming back from fishing and the vigilance intercepted and later released him after warning him to desist from criminal activities. He came as usual in the early hours of yesterday to steal some fowls and on his way out of the street; the fowls started making noise which attracted some members of the vigilance team.
“He attempted to escape, then confronted the vigilante guys and even brought out a big hammer before he was rounded up by the youths who refused to let him off the hook this time. To avoid his gang launching an offensive to free him, the angry youths hurriedly beat him up and set him ablaze.”
However, mixed reactions have greeted the action of the mob. While some residents suggested that he should have been handed over to law enforcement agencies, others supported the action, saying it would serve as deterrent.
Speaking, a resident, Kingsley Monday, said: “it is better to hand those guys to law enforcement agents for prosecution. Some of them may have been forced into such vices as a result of hunger or some strange demonic forces from their family background may be after them.
“Besides, through jungle justice, some innocent people could be killed over certain unresolved issues with some neighbours or friends. If a man vows to deal with you because you had unresolved matter with him, he could go as far as accusing you of what you know nothing of and then instigating mob action against you.”
Also speaking, another resident, Rosemary Effiong reasoned that “man does not have right to take another person’s life because we all sinners before God. If that is how God passes judgement on us, we would have all been death by now.” She advised that suspected thieves be handed over to the Police.”
But, Mr Etim Ekpenyong, who claimed to be a driver with a popular transports company in Calabar, disagreed. According to him, “wasting those societal demons would serve as deterrent,” explaining that the ones who were caught in the past and handed over to Police were later found few days on the Streets perpetuating similar act and even worst crimes.
“In as much as it is not a palatable thing to watch a fellow human being killed, these criminals have hardened the heart of many of our people. Some of us are victims of robberies. A robber who comes to your house comes with two things in mind, either to rob or kill you. So, let them be given the same measure they measure to innocent people.” Ekpenyong submitted.
In her reaction, Spokesman for the State Police command, ASP Irene Ugbo, who said residents had called to inform her of the incident, warned that any man caught taking part in jungle justice would face the full weight of the law.
“Though police do not support criminals and criminal activities in any way, but it is high time we stopped this jungle justice which is against the law,” she advised.