The Ogun juvenile homicide incident

ON June 15, Nigerians learnt of a harrowing and tragic incident involving minors in Ogun State. A 15-year-old boy was remanded in a holding facility by a magistrates’ court in Abeokuta, the state capital, having been charged with beating a 14-year-old girl to death! According to the prosecutor, Olu-Balogun Lawrence, the victim and the suspect were students of Rev. Kuti Memorial Grammar School and Nawiar Ud-Deen Grammar School, respectively. The suspect had, on February 24 this year, accosted the victim on her way home from school around the vicinity of Nawiar Ud-Deen Grammar School, and asked her out, a proposal she had promptly turned down.

Irked by her refusal, the boy went berserk, beating her to stupor. She was rushed to  the General Hospital, Ijaye, for treatment, before being transferred to the Federal Medical Centre, Idi Aba, Abeokuta, where she eventually died from the injuries sustained in the grievous incident. The offence, Lawrence said, contravened the provisions of sections 316 and 319(1) of the Criminal Code, Law of Ogun (2006). The magistrate, Dehinde Dipeolu, who did not take the suspect’s plea, ordered that he be remanded for 30 days in the Boaster Home Correctional Centre pending legal advice from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). He then adjourned the case until July 16 for mention.

To be sure, this disturbingly bizarre incident brings to the fore once again, the poor quality of parenting and family values in the Nigerian society. Pray, what is the overarching concern of a 15-year-old with having a girlfriend? And why should rejecting such a request attract death through beating? How could a person just starting life have developed such a romantic attachment to the opposite gender that he was willing to go to any length to actualise his desire to ‘date’ a fellow minor? How could a boy of 15 muster the kind of energy and rage sufficient to beat his fellow student to death? And what were their fellow students doing while the ordeal lasted? It really beggars belief that a young boy would take the life of a girl over a dating request.

There is certainly a cause for concern in the way that the Nigerian society runs its socialisation and educational processes. Even if it is common for kids these days to experiment with the dating process, the mindset that refusal ought to be met with brute force is fatal. It reeks of criminality. Whatever is breeding such line of thinking in the country’s young and impressionable population has to be addressed with utmost sense of urgency. Delay is not an option.

Time and again, we have sounded notes of warning regarding the collapse of family and moral values in the country. While in pursuit of the increasingly elusive currency, parents definitely need to spare a thought for their children’s proper upbringing. They need to reassess their goals time and again, ensuring that they are not building monsters through negligence and sheer diffidence. The youth, particularly teenagers, need close supervision and guidance in view of the pernicious exposure to violence, perversion and crime in popular culture, including movies and music. Parents should take active interest in monitoring the company that their children keep, and in the things they do with their mobile phones, especially those with internet connectivity. Danger is present all day long: leaving them to lick up all the stimuli in the environment without adult mediation can prove costly. If experience across the country is any indication, seemingly insignificant things such as this can go a long way in forestalling future misery. The repercussions of allowing the youth to be overwhelmed by the pervasive persuasions of the social media and the internet can be too grave to even contemplate.

Besides, since the tragic incident occurred on February 24, why did it take all of four months before getting judicial attention? This is precisely the kind of lax attitude that led to the tragic case in the first place. The suspect in this case may have to live the rest of his life with the stigma of a murderer and outlaw, but it is the society that needs more attention. This incident is  a reflection of the waning and declining values in the society and the tendency of the youth to believe that there is nothing they cannot do and get away with. It is a very sad commentary on the level of morality and values in the society. It calls for concerted effort to positively change societal values. The entire Nigerian society has the task of confronting the moral gaps and ensuring a more functional and positive training for children at home and in school.


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