SHAMING CULPRITS IN OUR MARKET PLACES

I have been fascinated to read in our esteemed Weekly
newspaper, the “Ika Weekly Newspaper “ and the Ikaworld  Website, about miscreants  in our society being paraded and shamed in
our our Market Places, with a view to probably humiliating them in order to make
them turn a new leaf or turn away from crime!

May be, this practice has deep roots in our local
psyche because at Primary School, some pupils who stole money from their
parents or guardians or misbehaved, had been made to kneel or stand up in front
of the Class, for a duration of one, two or even three hours for everyone to
see them and sometimes, some of them even carried placards with their “crimes”
emblazoned on these placards!

In years gone by,
may be at the AFIA OGBOMA MARKET, may be a woman who stole some of her
neighbour’s wares in the Market Place, had been paraded by, probably youths,
beating their gongs and cymbals while parading the luckless woman, usually
strewn or painted with chalk, “Nzu”, all over her body, in the public place.
I wish to point out that with time, our attitude to certain attitudes change.

In Britain, the award winning former correspondent and
BBC presenter, George Alagiah who originally came from Sri Lanka to live in
Britain, married his white wife while at the University and they have two children.
George has been running a series of programmes on the change of attitude in
Britain towards mixed- race people in Britain. His programmes showed how the
British, since before the First World war and well into the  1950s , hated the Chinese, Arabs, and Black
people whom they accused of stealing their girls and taken over their jobs! In
fact there was this myth that once a white woman had been with a Black man, she
would find it difficult to go back to her white folk! There were even race
riots at which the Whites vented their spleen on Black people but all that has
now changed considerably and there are now children of mixed race people all
over Britain.

 Even in some
parts of the United States of America, not too long ago, Black men were
practically lynched for lusting over white women but all that has now changed
considerably!

Recently, we have read of a wealthy politician,
seducing somebody’s wife and plying her with money; another ill-fated widower
who was caught committing adultery with a married woman who did not tell him
that she was married and they were paraded in the Market Place.  There was also, the intriguing case of John
ONUWA, alias “Warlokoh” who stole some tubers of yams from a farm in Umunede in
the Ika NorthEast Area of Delta State.

Some tubers of yams were strung on his neck and he was
paraded round the Market.  I believe he
was allowed to go after this ignominious exercise which did not seem to make
him repent of his action as soon after, he was caught stealing wares from a
Lady’s Provision Store, while dressed as a woman on a rain drenched night!

He was seen by a passer-by who accosted him but he
drew out a cutlass or machete to threaten the person who dared to interrogate
him!

However, luck soon ran out against John Onuwa because
another person stopped over at the Shop to find out what was going-on at that
time of the night! John showed a clean pair of heels and escaped from the scene
but the incident was reported to Vigilante Groups who went in hot pursuit and
apprehended him.

The goods he had stolen were recovered from him and
given back to the woman who owned the Store and John were handed over to the
Police. To me, this was the right action to take!

Unfortunately, nothing more has been heard of this
fascinating case! What did the Police do with John Onuwa? Was he interrogated
and released? Was he charged to Court? It would be interesting to have some
answers to these questions as John must have committed a crime embellished in
our penal Code by using a Cutlass or matchete to threaten an intruder! Did he
get away with this behaviour?

John Onuwa did not seem to have learnt a lesson after
being paraded in the Market Place when he stole yams from an Umunede Farm. Is
he just a miscreant, a petty thief or criminal? What did the Police do with
him? Was he sent to jail?

If we have adequate Social Services, perhaps he would
have benefited from Counselling?

Dehumanising or humiliating our citizens is an affront
on their Human Rights and Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations Human
Rights Convention. We should not condone deviants or perpetual law breakers in
our community but we should try not to take the Law into our own hands in order
to mete out Justice to offenders.

I would suggest that when we accost a criminal,
Security Agents such as our Vigilante Groups or the Police, should be called
and the culprits handed over to them. It is their responsibility to carry out
the necessary investigations and to take further necessary action. The Police
Authorities in Ikaland have promised to do their best to rid the two Local
Government Areas of hoodlums menacing the peace loving members of those
communities.

In the past, our people have suffered injustice from
individuals, the Community, Society or the Government but in the 21st
Century, the Federal or State Government should try to enact enabling Laws to
help individuals or organisations to establish companies or infrastructures
which would give employment to those who do not have jobs and are therefore
tempted to take to stealing in order to survive.

Our Churches and numerous Evangelisation bodies could
organise Counselling Sessions for our priapric men with the hope of getting
them and their liaisons out of their promiscuous tendencies or inclinations.
The Police Authorities have been shouting at the top of their voices that they
are ever ready to rid the society of violent armed robbers; perhaps we should
believe that they would keep their promise.

 With all these
measures in place, the people of Ikaland would begin to reap the dividends of
sustainable development of the society and perhaps, stop the practice of
parading miscreants in the market places!

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