The HAWK Project

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


A little child is not only precious to behold, but also one among the beauties nature bestows on mankind; a child is therefore a wondrous creature and as such ought to have some dignity attached to his or her personality. It is in the light of this submission that we hereby attempt to subject Helen Ukpabio’s Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft to critical and analytical crucibles.
It is expedient that we start by examining the definition of witchcraft as proffered by the author. According to Helen Ukpabio, a witch or a wizard is someone who engages in necromancy – any form of interaction with the spirit of the dead; clairvoyance – long distance transference of information or messages with the aid of the air, including telepathy; spells and chants– the controlling of another person’s actions or decisions against his or her will through brainwashing and hypnotism, and thus exhibit influence on another person’s thoughts and interference with his or her health, career and endeavours; prognostication – the ability to foretell future occurrence, including astrological predictions; skanning; palm-reading; conjurations including sorcery, invocation and divination.
The definition of witchcraft in this book differs from the metaphoric connotation of it whereby we call experts in different endeavours ‘witches’ or ‘wizards’ of such endeavours. But, perhaps we should extend the spectrum of witchcraft, as implied in the indices of witchcraft highlighted by the author, to include any act of exploring the non-physical terrain of the universe (if such exists, anyway) in order to manipulate and control occurring events in the physical terrain. Hence the statement: “the spiritual controls the physical” or “all things are settled in the spiritual realm before they manifest in the physical” would be a witchcraft slogan. Hence pastors, bishops, reverends, imams, rabbis, prophets and any other persons who claim to interact with or receive instructions from any non-physical being, or whose source of inspiration lies in the metaphysical realm, would automatically be witches and/or wizards. In this wise, the author, Helen Ukpabio, can be called a witch! Also, this conceptualization of witchcraft would apply to the great artists – Leonardo da Vinci, Michelango, Bernini, and some scientists like Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei and Charles Darwin.
In the light of what the author called ‘augurism’ (p.19), I think it behooves on any right thinking person to count the costs before embarking on any project or execute any action. Even the authors of the Bible, am sure, will advise on how unwise it would be for someone to embark on a project without weighing the costs and discerning whether he or she is financially viable enough to complete the project (this, to us, is just a matter of being prudent and not related to witchcraft in any way).
The author also highlighted what she called the four major principalities of witchcraft namely, Lucifer, Satan, Belial and Leviathan. Whereas these so-called principalities are unverifiable and their existence logically unjustifiable, Satan and Belial are characterized as being responsible for all the vices, evil machinations and wickedness of humankind. But we know that the human being is ontologically free and that thoughts that flow into the mind are often times uncontrollable. Therefore, it is natural for humans to think good or evil, but the rightness or wrongness of human acts depends on the developmental level of the person’s conscience, ethical enlightenment, moral education and psycho-social well-being. Hence, immoral and evil acts such as waywardness, crimes, falsehood, brutality, robbery, assassination and a host of other vices the author listed are mere resultant effects of maladjusted minds and not orchestrated by any principality of witchcraft. Maybe she needs a lesson in basic psychology.
In the third chapter, Helen Ukpabio discussed different modes of acquiring witchcraft. She highlighted them as follows: body incisions, Chieftaincy titles, initiations, edible substance, reading of magical, mystical and occultic books, false religious spirits, mermaid possession, registration, purchase or procurement. Let us analyse just two of these fallacious submissions. Incisions on the body have cultural and aesthetic undertones. This fact can be confirmed through empirical studies of different ethnologies or cultures, especially in Africa. Recently, tattoos, for instance, especially in the Americas, has become acceptable as a style of fashion and aesthetics. Hence, longevity of lifespan, prevention of ancestral demons and water spirits as purposes for body incision, as proffered by Ukpabio, are untrue. For instance, she talked about a lady who was initiated into witchcraft by her uncle nine years after he incised her body and ascribed that as reasons for her childlessness. This is can’t be far from concocted lies for there abound uncountable cases of sterility of infertility and childlessness that merely require proper medical attention. The question to ask Ukpabio is whether the lady in question visited a genealogist on the case of her infertility. Here, Ukpabio commits the fallacy of false cause by thinking that a body incision incubated to mature into witchcraft ten years after the supposed initiation. It is also contradictory that witches would be ignorant of how a new member got to their meeting when, according to Ukpabio , witches are capable of prognostication, conjuration, augurism and specific time-lapse appearance in whatever form.
Chieftaincy titles are ascriptions of honour on persons who have impeccable reputations, maintained personal integrity and made significant contributions towards the development of the society. Thus, being bestowed a chieftaincy title elevates the bestowed to a higher and respectable status within the society. The author got it wrong by saying that the chief changes into animal forms and moves to the village square by 2a.m to participate in witches’ meetings. Ukpabio needs to understand the following points: first, that a human being is fundamentally, both physiologically and mentally, different from and unchangeable into any animal form. Any story that suggests this is nothing but a fairy tale; second for anyone to conclude and boldly assert that witches meet by 2a.m, it is most likely that the person employs the participatory method of research to arrive at that knowledge. As such, if witches actually exist, Ukpabio herself is (can’t be ‘was’) a witch.
Chapters four and five on classifications of witches contain only shams and fictional jabbering which are incapable of being subjected to empirical verifications, practical examinations and existential meaningfulness; ditto chapters six and seven.
The most contentious by far, of the chapters, is the eight wherein the author calibrated the identical and defining attributes of witches into three different age categories, that is, from birth to eighteen years, from nineteen to thirty-four years and from thirty-four years upwards. Here are my observations on her submissions.
Right from birth, a child cries. A baby cannot speak and the mother who mostly guesses about the needs of the child will not always guess right. So a child who is uncomfortable has no other means of complaining about or exhibiting his or her discomfort than crying. I have never seen or heard of a baby who did not cry in the night. Even the author herself must have screamed and cried in the night when she was a baby. And if this discomfort is not discerned and taken away, the child may not feed well and deteriorate healthwise. This is therefore not a symptom of witchcraft as Helen Ukpabio would want us believe that a child that cries at night, does not feed well and deteriorate is a witch.
From the age of two, a child begins to exhibit his or her temperamental characteristics. A child who is a melancholy begins to signs of thoughtfulness than his or her peers who are not melancholic; a phlegmatic child becomes more social and friendly than his or her peers who are not, just as the choleric child starts exhibiting leadership or dominant traits even above his or her peers who are not. To say that such children are witches, as suggested by the author, inadvertently connotes that all children are witches, because all children must pass through these stages. Besides, at these stages, a child is being socialized into the world. Such a child who lacks good parental care and moral upbringing could become wayward, destructive, abusive, or become a school dropout. These are largely effects of parental failure and not characteristics of witchcraft.
The author is right by affirming that a lot of childhood characteristics develop with us into adulthood (may be the one near-fact I found in the entire book). These largely account for our behavioural attitudes between the age of nineteen and thirty-four. However, at this age grade, we are more matured and our childhood characteristics which are still part of us become more visible and observable. Thus, the morally perverted child develops into a morally perverted adult with more craftiness and pretence. The morally upright child also develops into a morally upright adult with a more pleasing personality. Also, within this age group, it is natural, from a psychological point of view, for the growing adult to entertain some anxiety or fear of calamity or death of his or her loved ones. It is not the case that he or she wishes for any calamity to befall them or wants them dead. It is pitiful that such natural and psychological process as this could be ascribed as symptoms of witchcraft. I disagree that they are and I will encourage Helen Ukpabio to enroll in a Department of Psychology and major on Child Psychology or take courses on Human Growth and Developmental Process.
In the remaining chapters in which the author made attempts to discuss the activities of witchcraft, she came up with notions which are obnoxious and assuming. In chapter eleven, for instance, she asserted that sixty percent of barrenness and related problems in Nigeria are traceable to witchcraft activities. How she arrived at that percentage and the statistical evident by which she concluded thus remains unknown and begs for scrutiny by the enlightened public. Another question, to which Helen Ukpabio should provide a reasonable response, is why it is only in Nigeria, and not in other nations in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas that witchcraft accounts for sixty percent of barrenness. Or is she telling us that barrenness through witchcraft is restricted to Nigeria or is Nigeria the headquarters of witchcraft such that it must be allotted such a large percentage of witchcraft induced barrenness?
Helen Ukpabio’s book is not without some instructional message. Particularly, it reflects the pervasive belief in metaphysical entities in human mentality. Specifically, it portrays the belief in witchcraft and the pride of place accorded it in the African and, not in the least, the Nigerian trado-cultural and religious thought systems. To the average Nigerian who is mentally and intellectually bereaved of life realities, witchcraft is not just real, in fact, the fear of the witch signifies the exquisite possession of existential wisdom. The witch is believed to possess immense metaphysical powers such that he or she can metamorphose from the human physiological structure into the form of whatever animal he or she wishes to. Also the witch does not need to go through the hard and usually embarrassing process of acquiring a visa and a flight ticket and boarding an aircraft to countries and continents or wherever he or she wishes to go. Perhaps witchcraft is shorter and smoother than aircraft, for it is widely believed that the witch can take on whatever means and appear wherever he or she desires, cause havoc there and returns to her base, all within the duration of dusk to dawn. In fact, belief in witchcraft amongst a many Nigerian people can never be over-emphasized.
It is this belief and the gullibility it allows for in the minds of the people that prophets, pastors and many religious eccentrics have exploited (and are exploiting) to manipulate people by threatening them with witchcraft activities so as to perpetually put them under their bondage and control. By writing a book on witchcraft and crafting the words and theme that scare the people, the author ploys to put herself in an authoritative and influential position that appeals to witchcraft believers. In like manner, so many prophets of doom, especially in the South-Southern part of Nigeria and in Akwa Ibom state specifically, have succeeded in misleading parents/guardians in battering, maiming and burning their children by accusing their children/wards of witchcraft and attempting to dispossess them of such spirits.
The book is recommended for only the critical of minds for it is capable of harming the uncritical ones. In fact, efforts should be made to formally lodge a withdrawal case with the Nigerian Publishers Association and Nigeria Censors Board, without further delay.

‘Tola Layode, MA is the Project Officer (Research and Publications) of the Young Humanistas Network, Nigeria

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The YHN/SSNCEF/CRARN Pastors' Parley on Child Witch Hunting in Akwa-Ibom State

The target was barely reached despite the efforts intensified at mobilization. But those that attended the parley really, really, let us into the basics that have informed many of the childwitch hunting cases. Of the 28 selected pastors (our target was 30), about twenty-four believe in the existence of child-witches, about 69% wont mind to openly proclaim them as witches (if necessary); 25% wont do open proclamation and 10% will only do "what they have to do depending on the condition).

Thanks to Stepping Stones Nigeria UK and Humanist Action for Human Rights, Norway for the support

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What else are we involved in?

The Young Humanistas Network (YHN) is a non-governmental and non-political organisation dedicated to six life-changing focuses, namely:
• Humanist Against Witch Killing and Stigmatization (HAWK)
• Anti-Ritual Killing Campaign (ARIC)
• Sexual Minorities Support Project (SEMSUP)
• Anti-Corporal Punishment Advocacy (ANCOPA)
• The Secular Nigeria Project (SENIP) –
(Secular Youth Leadership Training and Secularism Ideals Advocacy)
• Street Children Care and Empowerment Programme (SCHCEP)

Board of Trustees (2009/2010)
*Prof. O.B. Lawuyi - Chairman
*Olusegun Olukayode Olowu - Member
*Olanrewaju Austin Awofeso - Member
*Oyewole T. Taiwo - Member
*Temidayo David Oladipo - Secretary
*Adeyemi Johnson Ademowo - Project Director

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

HAWK Project Onna Town Hall Meeting: Another eye opener on the menace

Our mission in Onna Kingdom of Akwa Ibom State was planned to echo a development intervention guideline that advise gauging of local understanding of issues, ideals and beliefs to ensure the success of any intervention project.
This mantra guided us at Onna as we deliberated on a lot of issues related to our theme: How can we tackle this child witch-hunting menace together.

One of the definitions of a witch by the Onna people, of Akwa Ibom State was:
"a group of people or persons that do not want others to progress";
another was:
"the wickedness in high places that enters into people that make them do evil".

Next, we asked them to list the top five richest persons in Onna; and also to list the recently stigmatized child-witches; next we asked them if there was any of the children of these wealthy men in the list of the alleged witches. The answer was "NO!"
So, we asked: "Why are the children of the rich, influential and well educated, not witches?" This questions gingered responses that made the deliberations a fruitful one.

Sure, these definitions and other revelations will help formulate better advocacy/intervention projects in 2010 (Thanks to HAMU, Norway)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New arrival, Emman and the big sisters' welcome

Although abandoned by parents for being initiated into witchcraft, he was rescued from the bush-path in the Oruko area where he was left to be killed by hunger. Arriving at CRARN Center, he met new friends and big sisters who are ready to take care of him just like Caroline (see her new radiant looking pix below)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oron Town-Hall meeting, a Huge success!!

For behavioral change to be induced, the locals have a big role to play. This indubitable mantra, which is in agreement with the local participation buzz in the development field, led YHN/CRARN with active participation of SSNCEF (Stepping Stones Nigeria Child Empowerment Foundation) to jointly organise a town-hall meeting at Oron, the most endemic zone in Akwa-Ibom State, Nigeria on 20 October, 2009.

The result of the well-attended meeting which had the President of the Oron Town Union President, Chief Medekong and his wife in attendance, was ORON COALITION AGAINST CHILDWITCH HUNTING and an appointment of HAWK Project ombudsman, Mr Godwin XXXX for the area.

More on this later.

(Special Thanks to the HAMU, Norway Board that made this possible)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Battered Caroline rescued from her assailants!

Her name is Caroline. She is less than five years old yet she has spent the last four months of her life on the streets trying to move from one village to another in Oron area of Akwa-Ibom State to escape from those that seek her death. Her sins? She is an 'Ifot' (a witch)!

She has now been rescued and taken to the CRARN Center. The worst scenario played itself when we took Caro to a village near hers; we (volunteers of YHN, CRARN and Stepping Stones) were stunned to discover to our chagrin that the villagers asked us to take her away from them or be ready to take her corpse to the morgue. What a callous set of humans!!!

YHN, CRARN and STEPPING STONES collaborate on a town hall meeting in Oron

YHN has finally entered into talks with Stepping Stones Nigeria led by Gary Foxcroft on how to tackle the child stigmatization menace in Oron area of Akwa-Ibom State. The long talk took place on Oct. 16, 2009. Stepping Stones through its Project Director has shown interest in joining the P4D, Prosecution for Deterrence, program and also the town-hall meetings.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

HAWK Anti-childwitch Advert hits the Akwa-Ibom airwaves!!

In the fight against beliefs such as witchcraft, we have realised that there is dire need for concerted efforts that will involve the media and the locals, hence the decision to take the enlightenment programme to the locals through the media. However, the favoured media based on our studies is the Radio. Hence, with the help of an award-winning broadcaster EssiET Esamme, also known as Rockyfella, we have been able to package a jingle in pidgin english and local Efik language. The ad is currently running on two popular radio programmes: Afternoon Ride and Abadie . (Special thanks to HAMU, Norway, the adverts will run from October to December, 2009)

HAWK Engages a Lawyer for its P4D programme!

To achieve one of our set goals, that of Prosecution for Deterrence, the board of the YHN, Nigeria in consultation with the board of the CRARN, Ikot Afaha have agreed to engage Barrister James Ibor Esq. of the Basic Rights Counsel, Calabar as the HAWK Legal Adviser/Prosecutor. For now, he will be assisted by CRARN Staff but by 2010 we hope to engage two local investigators/ombudsmen to assist him in getting the right information about the background of the abandoned kids that could lead to the arrest of their parents/pastors that proclaimed them as witches.

Although Mr James Ibor Esq. will offer the services as a pro bono HAWK will undertake expenses involved. Already, certain sum has been paid to cover transportation and library costs for him to join the CRARN lawyer in defending the Center in a case filed by the infamous leader of the Liberty Foundation Church, Helen Ukpabio. (The case hearing resumes on the 23 Oct. 2009).

And they were abandoned again!

While we were busy trying to put together the town hall meetings, about four chilkdren were brought to the center between Oct 1 and 5, 2009 by different groups ranging from a youth corp member, the police to a 'father' who cursed and abandoned his son at the market square in Afaha-Idung.

HAWK Donates Essential Materials like 6.5kva generator, fans, science books, etc

In line with the need assessment and agreement between the board of YHN HAWK Team and the CRARN Center, a brand new 6.5KVA generating set was donated to the center to assist the health and security concerns of the center.

We also donated a set of six ceiling fans, four OX standing fans, primary schools' science textbooks, junior secondary school mathematics, english and science textbooks.

We also undertook the wiring of a classroom building built by the Bristow Helicopters. All these wouldn't have been possible without the support of Humansist Actio for Human Rights, Norway.

A memorable Independence Day Celebration with the Kids

Members of the Young Humanistas Network, Ibadan had a nice time with the kids at the CRARN Center on the 1st of October, 2009. The event tagged "Happy Birthday, Nigeria" was observed to take care of the psycho-social needs of the kids. The cutting of the anniversary cake of Nigeria's independence and subsequent fun packed events that followed put smiles on the faces of the kids.

The HAWK/CRARN team also seize the opportunity to flag off the first phase of the intervention project being sponsored by HAMU, Norway.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rising cases of stigmatized and killed child witches

Murder and persecution of women and children accused of being witches is spreading around the world and destroying the lives of millions of people, experts said Wednesday.

The experts -- United Nations officials, civil society representatives from affected countries and non-governmental organization (NGO) specialists working on the issue -- urged governments to acknowledge the extent of the persecution.

Read more:

Tanzanian Albinos can now heave a sigh of relieve, for a while

A court in north-western Tanzania has sentenced three men to death by hanging for killing a 14-year-old albino boy. They were found guilty of attacking Matatizo Dunia and severing his legs in Bukombe district in Shinyanga province.

In the past two years there has been a huge rise in murders of albino people. Witchdoctors use their body parts in potions they claim bring prosperity.
Read more here:

UN publishes IHEU statement on witchcraft in Africa

The UN Human Rights Council has published IHEU's written statement on witchcraft in Africa. The statement documents the abuse of children and others through accusations of witchcraft and supposed witch "cures". IHEU calls for improved education and policing to eliminate these twin scourges.

Read more here:

An ode to Nwanakwo: a boy acid bathed by the father

Absolutely shocking! Distasteful, traumatizing and unbelievable! Can this be another April fool? No, it is not. The news is indeed true: Nwanakwo is DEAD! This is state that beclouded the Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) Centre when the news of the death of 9 year old Nwanakwo Udo Edet from Ikono LGA who was receiving treatment at University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH) having been bathed with acid by his father.

Pitiful! Poor, innocent Nwanakwo was taken to the UUTH in July this year from General Hospital Ikono when his medical situation deteriorated. His sin is the acceptance to an invitation to attend a prayer meeting with a church in Urban, near Calabar, Cross River State Nigeria. “When I arrived the church, people were clapping and dancing. I prayed God to bless me and our family including my father; soon the pastor came, turning around, holding my head ‘Do you know that you are a witch?’ he asked me. I told him no, I am not a witch…” ‘He told me that I must confess or he will beat me, even as he slapped me immediately. He handed over a bottle of olive oil to me to be drinking at home. I was annoyed, and went and told my father so that he will arrest the pastor with police.

To his chagrin, his father merely told him that if he were a witch he would be cast out of the house. That was an understatement. After four days his father told him that they would travel home to see their relatives. The little lad was so elated by this offer. Did Nwanakwo and his father come back truly?

He told CRARN team who visited him at the UUTH in August that his father called a cyclist and whispered to him. They mounted on the bike and moved to a particular road that was bushy up to a distance where there were no houses and stopped there. His father took him inside the bush and pretended that he wanted to ease himself, while the cyclist waited. “He brought out a gallon from a sack bag and forced me on the ground, pressing my legs with his knees, he forced my mouth opened and poured acid into it. I cried and pleaded with him that I am his son; he shouted and called me a wizard and devil. He poured the acid on my face, head and body and ran away. Somebody came and took me to the police.” He said with a clear as is using a wireless microphone

Looking at Nwanakwo’s photograph, the acid burns are very glaring. The boy, who lost his mother four years ago, said he wants justice to prevail. “Even in my grave I want my father and Pastor King of Mouth Zion Light House, Urban to be arrested and brought to book.” The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of UUTH, Prof. Emmanuel Ekanem was contacted to know what measure has been taken to ensure that justice is done. “The Head of the Corporate Affairs Unit (UUTH) has contacted the Divisional Police Officer of Ikono LGA who said that his men have been drafted to investigate the matter …” the CMD had responded briefly.

This brutish act was committed in January this year, precisely eight months ago, and Nwanakwo died about four days ago. As at the time of writing this piece, there was no news as to the arrest of Nwanakwo’s father or Pastor King. Will justice ever be done?

Nwanakwo represents the hundreds or thousands of children in Akwa Ibom , Cross River, Bayelsa, Abia Rivers States, etc, who have suffered similar faith; either by being set on fire, thrown into the river to serve as delicious meal for the fish, buried alive, poisoned to death, slaughtered, hacked to death, pierced hot pokers into the anus, stoned to death, incarcerated and manacled in churches or prayer houses, sold to child traffickers or ritual syndicates, enslaved in brothels, strangled to death, starved, neglected, hung or suspended to die by piece-meal and or bathed with acid.

The rebranding of Nigeria is a project I so endeared and so I can die for it. But the rebranding has to start from the first rung of the ladder. The first rung is the children. The visit by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio to children at CRARN Centre where over 200 stigmatized or witch-branded are rehabilitated children is an inroad to this concept of rebranding. Therefore, all the undoing committed against these children must be addressed and redressed. The Childs Right Law should not be allowed to be sleeping in archives and libraries unattended to. Its spirit should be evoked and allowed to hound the phony pastors, fake evangelists, apostles and prophets. The Child Witch Inventors should not be allowed to continue in the hoodwinking business using the name of God and garnering criminal awe and reverence while children continue to suffer, the image of Christianity and Nigeria remain in the mud; they must face justice. There should be no sacred cow. This to me is rebranding! Rebranding should be an egg we cannot trifle with, if sincerity is anything to go by. Parents who give themselves up to be brainwashed by the renegade men of God thereby unleashing all sort of terror on children should be made to face the full weight of the law. To say that the rate of child-witch branding with its attendant consequences on children is alarming is making an understatement.

This is not enough; there must be a Special Implementation Committee saddled with the responsibility of monitoring the activities of churches, liaising with the police in ensuring the prosecution child’s right violators in the truest spirit of the law. But I am confident that where the conventional law take some doses of sedatives and remain drowsy, fidgeting or opt not to wake up at all, the natural justice will brave the storm and fish out the untouchable and the sacred cows. ‘Be not deceived, God is not mocked…’

You will agree with me that I have digressed a lot. So I hereby plead for amnesty. Yes Nwanakwo, in the spirit of rebranding should be immortalized! This will awaken the consciousness in our psyche that children, the world over, deserve special attention; not assault and battery, not machetes cut, not hot iron-branding, not hot water-bathing, not even violent exorcism, but love, good food, education and good health. And that no one should be religiously irreligious as this sometimes leads to ‘insanity’-so giving the urge to harm others, especially vulnerable children.

Nwana, my sole-friend, your death reminds me of the 9 year old Mary Effiong of Oruko, Oron axis who was slaughtered in a broad daylight in 2007 by his beloved daddy because an apostle of God revealed to him that his frequent arrest by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency-NAFDAC for trading in Indian hemp and hashes, was the handiwork of his daughter who was a witch. He was arrested; but pressure from the elite and the community made him to walk the street like Fidel Castro of Cuba while in office. Justice was not done! So for Nwanakwo, will justice ever be done?

Sam Ikpe-Itauma is the President, Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) Akwa Ibom State.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dad Bathes 3 Kids In Hot Water claiming they are witches

A man identified as Emmanuel David Akpan and his wife have been arrested by the police in Calabar, Cross River State for inflicting grievous injuries on his three children by bathing them with hot water on the allegation that they are witches.

The husband and wife, who is the kids’ stepmother, are currently cooling their heels in the cells of the Federal Housing Police Station, Calabar. They told the police that they allegedly lost contact with the mother of the kids about two years ago when the marriage between her and David Akpan ended in divorce.

The suspects were alleged to have bathed the three little girls, Imaobong (7), Nyenime (5) and Joy David Akpan, with hot water, after binding their hands and legs with electric cables.
Read more:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Helen Ukpabio militia invade child rights conference in Calabar, Nigeria

It is hard to believe but real. The foot soldiers of the child witch exorcist, Helen Akpabio on Wednesday 29 July, 2009 attacked a child rights conference at the Cultural Center, Calabar, Nigeria.

Here is the footage of the attack on Youtube:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Special Appeal from Nigerians in Diaspora

July 13, 2009

His Excellency Obong (Barr.) Godswill Akpabio

The Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State

Wellington Bassey Way

Uyo, Akwa Ibom State



Your Excellency:

The leadership and members of Akwa Ibom State Association of Nigeria (USA), Inc. (AKISAN) have again read, heard, discussed, prayed, watched and followed the stories of our children being manhandled and traumatized; their caretakers arrested and/or threatened; and the protagonists left to their own devices. Last year we advocated on behalf of the abused and abandoned children. We are especially troubled that this is again at issue after your and the House of Representatives’ positive actions to move their concerns in the right direction. These actions included the Child’s Right Act, the arrests of some provocateurs, your proclamation and promised donation to their causes.

AKISAN proudly supports the commendable work of Mr. Sam Itauma and CRARN to rescue and rehabilitate our children, who for no fault of theirs are subjected to unimaginable atrocities because some ‘pastor’ claims they are possessed or are witches. The images from last year’s broadcast are still very raw in the minds of our community. AKISAN is disgusted that in 2009, a pastor can allegedly use ‘law enforcement’ to travel across the country to exercise some ‘kidnapping’ action while the local police command stands as watchmen. This begs the question why we have police commissioners in each state; and whose jurisdiction is it on a given day.

We hold firmly that if the children (our future) are treated with such disfavor when the government is aiming to universally educate them, our progress can and only will be measured by the value with which we regard them today. AKISAN affirms that our children must be protected from all enemies; whether from within and without. We further assert that those who risk their resources to cater and help our children should equally be protected as their work is of paramount importance. Specifically, we assert that the government needs to utilize all pertinent resources to protect CRARN, their staff and their management.

As a people, we are known and recognized by how well they treat the weak and vulnerable. Akwa Ibom has a history of hospitality to its fellow citizens and strangers. It is unfathomable that our children and their caretakers should be subjected to this level of persecution and abuse as have taken place in our state. We demand protection for CRARN, its residents, its staff and for all who are engaged in the difficult task of taking care of the children who are the victims of opportunists and those who profit from their misfortune.

AKISAN would be remiss if we did not thank you for your intervention, visit to CRARN and outward show of support for these children. We know it made a major difference in the turn of events. We are thankful for the promised donation and hope the funds will be available soon for the large tasks at CRARN.

We thank the State Police Commissioner for the intervention and release of Mrs. Itauma and Staff, though we are disturbed that his command was treated so inconsequentially by the arrest in the first instance. We hope there shall never be another such instance without due process in the future, and that everyone will be treated with a measure of respect. AKISAN insists that elements like Mrs. Helen Ukpabio and others similarly situated should be put on notice that our children are our most valued treasures and their false stigmatization and strong arm persecution should cease immediately.

Therefore, we earnestly hope His Excellency will take appropriate steps to eradicate this horror from our community and support this and other safe havens for these traumatized children. We recognize that these expected changes will require re-education and re-orientation of our communities about their beliefs. AKISAN is hopeful for a strong community without these unwelcome events.


Mike Essien, Esq.

Legal Counsel, AKISAN

Czar, Abused Children Relief

Obong Umana

National President, AKISAN

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Urgent Action to Protect the Rights of Nigeria's ‘WITCH’ Children

Dear friend,
Below is the link to Stepping Stones Nigeria's (and other partner organisation's) proposal of action that could assist in freeing Sam Ikpe-Itauma, his family and staff from the malicious intent of Helen Ukpabio.
Kindly help to circulate it and TAKE ACTION, ACCORDINGLY!!!


Yemi Ademowo J

Monday, July 6, 2009

HAWK Project: The Evangelist's Physical Attack on Sam and the alledged Witches

Dear friend,

It might seem that we are quiet but we are not. Indeed, we have been working with groups to see how we could stamp out the steretypification of the innocent kids being accused of being witches. We have failed in some of our activities, and we have been tremedously successful in others. Our main headache now is a woman 'evangelist' called HELEN AKPABIO, the witch catcher!!

You would recalled that we cried out sometimes ago that HELEN is demanding a whooping sum as a compensation for Sam Itauma's participation in a documentary 'Saving the Child Witches' (see: I saw a copy of the letter sent to Sam by a law firm in Lagos when I visited the CRARN Center in April. The letter was replied legally by CRARN's team of lawyers. After the reply, we have not heard from HELEN until on July 3, 2009!!!

On July 3, 2009 at around 7am a team of unclothed Policemen forced their way into the CRARN center on the orders of 'The Evangelist'. Sam was not at the Center, he left early in the morning to visit one of the opinion leaders in the area who will take a part in a programme on community sensitization that he is organising. THE POLICE BEAT UP SAM'S WIFE and WOUNDED SEVEN OF THE ALLEDGED WITCHES living at the CRARN Center, Ikot Afaha, Akwa-Ibom state, Nigeria. The wife and a staff of the center were arrested only to be freed after 48hours as opposed the 24 hours stipulated in the constitution. Sam's laptop computers and a 500pounds donation he received for the center on his recent visit to London and other valuables were missing at the end of the operation.

After they were released on the orders of the Commisioner of Police, Akwa-Ibom state, 'The Evangelist' called the Commisioner and lampooned him for daring to free those threatening her life (what she meant by this is her livelihood because her last revival in Akwa-Ibom was not as successful as she expected; she lost her investment!!).

Various groups are planning one programme or the other to bring this issue to public discourse and seek justice for Sam and the Kids. The HAWK Project shall be addressing an international press conference on thursday 9 July, 2009 in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State. Tagged "Stop Harrassing Sam and the Alledged Witches", the press conference will renew call for Sam and the Kids protection and call the public's attention to the acts of injustices being orchestrated by Helen Akpabio.

As for Sam and the kids, they now live in perpetual fears for they know not what next the woman of terror will do!!

You see, we need you to help publicise this attack and call attention to the pains and sufferings of these innocent kids as well as that of their 'Defender', Sam Ikpe-Itauma!!

Yemi Ademowo Johnson
Coordinator, HAWK Project

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sober Reflections Poetry Nite

Watch out for the YHN-HEF 'Night of Sober Reflections" on the Child witch-hunting saga coming up in May, 2009. It promises to be an unforgettable night of reflective poetry, oration and motivation for the activists involved in tackling the child abuse menace.
You cant afford to miss it!

HAWK Project: So far, So Good

Dear friend,
The HAWK Project is still on.
We have again visited the witchunted CHILDREN at the CRARN Center, Ikot-Afaha, Akwa-Ibom state and assessed the situation in Esan, Edo State.

Three projects have been carried out so far:
1. The Stop Project
2. The Inter-house Sports competition
3. The village meeting

1. The stop Project
The goal of this project is to create massive awareness of the pervasive stigma in the name of child-witch hunting going on in different part of Nigeria, most especially in Akwa-Ibom and part of Edo. This we have been doing through press conferences and participation at the human right fora like the Human Right Vanguards seminar on Child Rights, April 8-10, Lagos, Nigeria. As part of the Stop Project we have also engaged notable personalities like traditional rulers in the affected area, among other local leaders in discourse to get their views and use same in an advocacy campaigns on local radio that we hope to run once we are able to secure funds for the 1 minute over three months advert.

2. The CRARN Academy Sports
There is no doubt that sports help in developing children physically, emotionally, mentally and socially. Hence the decision of the Young Humanistas Network to participate and support the CRARN inter-sports competition by instituting a HUMANIST HOUSE, which the group will be supporting annually to compete in sports competitions like athletics, football, among others with other HOUSES like Bristow Helicopters, First City Monumental Bank, Stepping Stones, etc.

3. The village meeting
So far, about two village meetings have been held in Ibeno and Esan to engineer social change in attitude towards suspected child-witches. Both have been successful.

As you can see, whatever form you have been supporting us is surely not in vain. And we surely wont disappoint you.

All these have been made possible through the Human Etisk Forbund, Oslo Section fund granted late last month to cover the HAWK Project and our Youth Leadership Training most especially effective HIV prevention technique ( this year's edition will targeted at countering unsubstantiated Pope's statement on condom for the benefit of the young sexually active Nigerians).


Yemi Ademowo J
Cordinator, YHN

Check out the pix here:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Child-witch Hunting: Police arrest a pastor and two parents

Uyo, Nigeria: The Nigerian Police on 19th of March 2009 arrested a Pastor in the Mount Zion Church and two parents in an effort by the Akwa Ibom State Government to curb the rising spate of abandonment, torture and killing of children due to stigmatization that they are witches and wizards. Pastor Eno Samuel Daniel, 45, Mr. Udeme Atama, 36 and Mr. Samuel Okon Abia 55 from Ntak Inyang and Afaha Ekpenedi respectively in Esit Eket L. G. A. were all arrested.

Mr. Samuel Okon Abia was said to have tied Ekemini Okon Abia, 13, his last daughter with wire rope round her two ankles in a dark room, where goats and chicken are kept for more than two weeks without food and water after a pastor in the Methodist Church Nigeria declared her a witch, beat her up and disgraced her out of the church in an annual convention. When Ekemini became frail and about to die, she was bundled and dumped into the forest to die. But luck came her way when the wife of the youth leader of Afaha Ekpenedi found her while searching for goats’ straw and invited CRARN to rescue her.

The Superintendent of Police in charge of Anti-Trafficking Unit, Police Headquarters Uyo, Mr. Enoh who led the crack team, said the Police is determined to arrest anyone who indulged in child abuse no matter his/her status in the society. Speaking to news men shortly after the operation, Mr. Sam Ikpe-Itauma, the President, Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), who led the team that guided the police said they dressed in coverall, safety boots and helmets like oil company workers to conceal their intention, as the suspects always took to their heals when they discovered police presence; and that his organization would always campaign for the survival of the stigmatized children and the right of children in general, despite the danger involved in it.

‘We will not rest on our oars. We shall continue to campaign for the survival, freedom and the right of the Akwa Ibom children, the Nigerian children. We know, our lives are under threat, but we shall not give up. These children are not witches; they deserve not death but life and respect…’ Mr. Ikpe-Itauma told newsmen.

In a telephone chat, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Aniekan Umana thanked Mr. Ikpe-Itauma for his organization’s role in exposing the activities of the phony men of God and some parents who are who are bent on smearing the image of the state and country for their selfish reason. He said government would continue to fish out these criminal minded elements in the society.

Mr. Umana said that all those arrested would face prosecution soon in court. Meanwhile, the Uyo High court on Monday adjourned sitting for the hearing of ‘Bishop’ Sunday William Ulup-Aya and nine others for 1st of April, 2009. ‘Bishop’ Ulup-Aya is standing trial for the comments he allegedly made in a UK channel 4 documentary ‘Saving Africa’s Witch Children’ which he claimed to have killed 110 children.

Yemi Ademowo Johnson

HAWK Alerts Culled from CRARN Bulletin of 20/03/09

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Witchcraft Pastor threatens to sue CRARN, YHN Partner, for $68million

Dear friend,

First of all, thanks for your supports thus far.

But we will like to inform you that another twist has been added to the whole issue of 'ANTI-CHILDWITCH HUNTING CAMPAIGN' in Nigeria.

I received a mail from Sam Ikpe-Itauma last night intimating me that a pastor, Evangelist Helen Ukpabio of Liberty Gospel church, Calabar, (; one of the leading 'witchcraft pastors in Nigeria' has written to him, Sam Ikpe-Itauma, demanding for APOLOGY from CRARN for the group's various activities maligning the activities of her church (that is, working to 'discredit' her church as merely chasing shadows for the witches she is claiming to deliver do not really exist).

Her lawyers requested for this before 31st March 2009 else they sue CRARN and SAM plus his allied groups like YHN for a whooping N10Billion (about $68million or 438Million Kroner).

We need you to personally find time to write to Sam ( assuring him that we are with him in this trying period.

Sam is presently consulting, with legal personalities sympathetic to his cause, to know what steps to take.

Truly, this is his trying periods. Sam needs us all!!!!!

Yemi Ademowo Johnson

Monday, March 23, 2009

HAWK Project: The Akwa-Ibom Village Square Dialogue, April-June, 2009

Dear friend,

When embarking on an Intervention Project, a lot of factors are thoroughly considered, the paramount of which is the involvement of the locals in the project. In fact, it has been discovered that non-involvement of the locals in many projects has resulted in project ineffectiveness for continuity and efficiency are often compromised.

This indisputable fact, of successful projects and policy execution in Nigeria, as noted by Ololajulo B. (2004), and our avowed need to ensure the success of the HAWK Project has make us to take a u-turn. Contrary to the earlier projected International Conference on Child Witch hunting, we shall now be organising a "Village Square Square Dialogue" in Akwa-Ibom between April and June, 2009.

This decision of our is premised on the need to involve the affected in the intervention project, in fact they are expected to take the driver's seat. The meeting will invite the locals, their chiefs and religious leaders. At first we thought of a conference but we have realised that it will only offer some people a kind of talk-shop and fewer resources for the kids and of course local involvement. (After all, the locals will not understand the bid grammar that the many academic participants will speak!)

We shall keep you informed of a detailed programme.

We are planning as usual to organise this with CRARN,

Other Nigerian and non-Nigerians, individuals and groups, interested in taken part in the village square dialogue are also enjoin to signify on time so that we could issue the invitation letter.

Yemi Ademowo Johnson

Friday, March 20, 2009

WitchHunting in Gambia: Gambian Police dismisses reports

DAKAR (Reuters) - Witch doctors and security forces in Gambia have
detained up to 1,000 people on suspicion of being witches, Amnesty
International said on Wednesday. Police in the African country
dismissed the reports as lies.

Victims have been held in secret detention camps for up to five days
and forced to drink hallucinogenic substances which have killed at
least two people through kidney failure, the London-based human rights
organisation said in a statement.

"At 5 a.m. the paramilitary police armed with guns and shovels
surrounded our village and threatened the villagers that anyone who
tries to escape will be buried six feet under," it quoted an
unidentified eyewitness as saying of a recent raid.

Around 300 men and women were forced on to buses at gunpoint and taken
to President Yahya Jammeh's home area of Kanilai, Amnesty quoted the
witness as saying.

"Once there, they were stripped and forced to drink 'dirty water' from
herbs and were also bathed with these dirty herbs. A lot of these
people who were forced to drink these poisonous herbs developed
instant diarrhoea and vomiting whilst they lay helpless," the witness

Gambia's inspector general of police, Essa Badjie, rejected the reports as lies.

"I think they are neglecting what is happening in Afghanistan. They
are lying," he told Reuters by telephone.

"Tell them they are lying. See what is happening in Palestine and
Iraq... The Gambia is a peaceful country," he said. Other officials
could not be reached for comment.

Amnesty said eyewitnesses and victims said the people seeking witches,
themselves known as witch doctors, had come from nearby Guinea, but
were accompanied on their raids by Gambian police and army and
national intelligence agents, along with members of Jammeh's personal
guard, known as "green boys".

Gambia, a tiny sliver of land along the banks of the eponymous river
jutting into the middle of surrounding Senegal, is mainland Africa's
smallest state.

Human rights organisations and press freedom watchdogs accuse Jammeh's
administration and security forces of using arbitrary detention and
other abuses of power to gag political opponents and restrict freedom
of expression.

Halifa Sallah, a leading opposition figure who challenged Jammeh in
the country's most recent presidential elections in 2006, was arrested
10 days ago and charged last week with spying, sedition and holding an
illegal meeting.

Party officials said then that Sallah had been arrested after
travelling outside the capital Banjul to investigate reports that
armed groups were going from village to village searching for witches.

Belief in witchcraft is common in West Africa, where traditional
animist beliefs coexist with Islam and Christianity.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

HAWK Project: Of Religion, Poverty and Witchcraft

Dear friend,
The advocacy is still on, thanks to you.

You can read one of our advocacy articles in The Nigerian Tribune of 20/05/09

Of religion, poverty and witchcraft

By Yemi Ademowo Johnson

The madness in the name of child-witches hunting and exorcising going on in Akwa Ibom State, needs the attention of every rational being. For as a newspaper editorial puts it, it is nothing but a 'debacle on child rights and a situation that has taken away self-esteem and psychologically demean many children in the state to the extent that they are far too conscious of every of their daily act everywhere and anywhere for fear of being tagged witches or wizards. This is totally unacceptable. Hence the question: who is a witch?

Also during the weekend, Yemi Ademowo Johnson, the International Coordinator for the HAWK Campaign was featured as a change influencer in The Guardian Newspapers (Life) of 22/02/09.

You see, with your support, we can move mountains!!


Yemi Ademowo J

Monday, February 16, 2009

HAWK Project: The Boy Jerry: Story of an Alleged Wizard

Dear friend,

Obviously we are all blind to seeing what the future holds in stock. What we are cocksure of and capable of peeping into are daily happenstances around us. We all sleep, wake and move about our routines with high hopes until something terrible dwarf that high hope. Here is the story of Jerry a former pupil of Aunty Mercy Nursery and Primary school who never dreamt that one day he will battle with the witchcraft stigma but rather focused on his dream of becoming a medical doctor.

His name is Jeremiah Victor Friday. He is 10 years old. Before being rescued to the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) center where alleged child-witches live, Jerry has a life of his own, a caring mother, father and friends around ready and willing to offer their shoulders whenever the need arises.

All seems to be going on well for this young man until the wife of his Pastor declared him a wizard! And because his parents have been attending the City of Grace Mission International in Afaha Uqua for sometimes they accepted the verdict!!

The sanest question is: what made Jerry a wizard?

The story, to be more elaborate, was that the Pastor's wife had prophesized during one of the pregnant women prayer meetings that Jerry's mother will deliver a baby boy and that she is sure because the Holy Spirit has confirmed it to her. Unfortunately, however, rather than a baby boy, Jerry's mother gave birth to a baby girl. So, to cover up for the inadequacies of the 'Holy Spirit message', the Reverend's wife said it was Jerry that turned the male foetus into female, so that he will be the only one receiving the male preferential treatment.

Like most of his other colleagues at the CRARN Center, Jerry was BEATEN and TORTURED. In fact his father used petrol and fire to BURN him. He was also given CRUDE OIL to drink which made him purged for three days.

For a boy who aspires to be a Medical Doctor, but who was turned away from home into the streets, one will thought the journey has ended. But Jerry is now in high spirit with a better hope for the future.

Thanks to the many supports being given to the CRARN Center and of course whistle-blowing projects like that of the Stepping Stones of Nigeria and the Humanist Against Witch Killing (HAWK) of the Young Humanistas Network.

The likes of Jerry, Mary, and other over one hundred and seventy kids living in the CRARN center still need us. Our advocacy, moral and financial supports will go a long way in combating this menace.

YOU are OBVIOUSLY important in this CAUSE!

Thanks for all your supports, now and in the future!~

Yemi Ademowo Johnson

Friday, February 13, 2009

Darwin's Day Seminar partcipants Endorse HAWK

It was another plus for the YHN-HEF HAWK Campaign as participants at the Charles Darwin 200th Birthday Seminar tagged "Darwinism, Science Education and Contemporary 'Unscientific' African Beliefs" having discussed the topic, criticise the existence of such beliefs as witchcraft and its denigrating effect, witch hunting and stereotyping.

One of the speakers, Mr. Frank Ilevbare, son of a prominent Classist, who is a systems engineer, noted that the common place poverty and the recent global economic recession and the dearth of qualified science teachers are all some of the reason adduceable for the continued existence of the belief. Another speaker, Mr. Gbemileke, President of the Association of Faculty of Arts Students and Welfare Officer of the Ibadan Students Union, in his own submission opined that "effective promotion of science in junior schools will, with time, douse the continued existence of such beliefs which ae antithetical to African development.

Other speakers at the event posited that the Young Humanistas Network should work hand-in-hand with humanist focused groups and to some extent some liberal religious groups in advocating for the promotion of science education, most especially the theory of evolution in schools.

We want to thank everyone for the support thus far, it is surely not over until it is over!!

Yemi Ademowo J

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

HAWK in the News

Dear friend,
Find below a piece on HAWK Forum held last month.


Brand a child a witch/wizard in Akwa-Ibom, make N400,000

The menace of child witch-branding cum witch-killing is currently synonymous with the Niger Delta, particularly Akwa Ibom State. Many children who have fallen victim have gory tales to tell, and some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) which have taken it upon themselves to tackle the menace appear to be hamstrung, reports Stephen Gbadamosi.

Imagine this spectacle: a crowd gathers around an 11-year-old girl, with some elders wielding sticks, clubbing her and commanding, "Confess, you bewitched your father. If you don't say the truth, you will die!" Then, a middle-aged man, perhaps the little girl's uncle, clears his way to the centre of the crowd, with a rough stone and a three-inch nail in his hands.

"If you won't confess, then you will simply die," he blurts out, standing the nail in the middle of the girl's head and ramming it into her skull with the stone. The crowd erupts in triumphant jubilation.

This is one of the kind of true-life experiences of the approximately 15,000 children that have been branded witches in Akwa Ibom State in recent times.

The concept of witchcraft is not new to Africa and, indeed, the world at large. This belief is as old as traditional societies themselves. As a result of the belief in witchcraft in primordial societies, the concept of wit ch-killing had arisen, a development that had seen many females, especially those who refused to confess to the allegations, being sent to early their graves. These allegations mostly derive from the belief that witches have supernatural powers to influence other people's lives, particularly in a negative way.

While history has it that witch-killing was pronounced during the middle-age Europe and early 20th century Africa. an NGO, Young Humanist Network, in association with Human Etosk Forbund (HEF) of Norway, recently said current information on the internet, available on, reveals that "Africa is, indeed, picking up the sad piece of European middle ages, despite advancements in science and technology."

Despite the fact that the Child Rights Bill has been passed into law by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, the child witch-branding saga has continued unabated in the state. In many parts of the world and in different places in Nigeria, people are oblivious of the fact that his barbaric practice still thrives in the richest, but probably the most backward, part of Nigeria. But activities of the NGOs, such as the YHN-HEF project and the Child Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) are exposing the obnoxious practice , particularly in the Niger Delta state of Akwa Ibom. CRARN, aided by a Briton, Gary Foxcroft, who came to Akwa Ibom for his Master's research project and later founded an NGO in the area while working in conjunction with YHN-HEF, blew the lid on the plight of witch-branded children in Akwa Ibom State.

Read more:

Thanks for your supports thus far!

Yemi Ademowo Johnson

Monday, February 2, 2009

The HAWK Project: Two Giant Strides

Dear friend,

Over the weekend the Board of YHN met and discussed on the project's grey areas for accountability and progress sake, below is the Board's decision concerning further funding for the project:

The YHN Board in the meeting of 30 January, 2009, decided that FURTHER financial support/donation for the HAWK project be of two folds, which should be clear to the supporters.

a. CWRF Fund, Child witches Rehabiltation Fund, the Board, based on the recommendation of the HAWK Committee, decides that financial support for the Rehabilitation, temporary feeding before family unification, housing, among others for the alleged childwitches should sent directly to CRARN, Child Right and Rehabilitation Network, based in Eket where the children are housed and catered for. This means that financial support for this purpose will have to be sent directly to/into the CRARN Zenith Bank account.

2. The YHN-HAWK Fund, in addition to the take-of financial support received from HEF, Oslo, the HAWK project also needed to oil its financial base, additional funding, most importantly as it hopes to organise an NATIONAL ANTI-CHILDWITCHES CONFERENCE/RALLY to mark the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression, in UYO, Akwa-Ibom State, continue whistle blowing on the activities of the criminal pentecostal pastors, and also cover some expenses related to the probono legal services of its legal team.

Hence, the Board decides that support to the HAWK-AFRICA Project can be channeled to any of these two, CWRF and HAWK Fund.

To firm this decision the Board also requeted formal MOU signing between Young Humanist Network, Nigeria (YHN) and Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) on fund monitoring for accountability, for all funds received through HAWK's CWRF initiative. The account details of both organisations will be made public once this has been done (hopefully later in the week).

We will like to extend our sincere appreciation to (everyone of ) you, once again, for your unflinching supports.


Yemi Johnson

Thursday, January 29, 2009

HAWK Project: Of Poverty and Witchcraft

Dear friend,
My article appeared in the OP-ED of a Nigerian national dailies, the Nigerian Tribune.
We were also on the national radio news early in the week.
A feature is in the offing for the campaign in another National newspapers. We are also being invited to feature on a Radio programme soon!
You see, your petitions, supports and our efforts are never in vain: no matter how tiny, the drops will surely make ocean one day.

Of poverty and witchcraft

By Yemi Ademowo Johnson

"The campaign to make poverty history — a central moral challenge of our age — cannot remain a task for the few; it must become a calling for the many".
— Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General.

The Kofi Annan's challenge above is a mean one; a clarion call to every citizen of the world to do their bit, their very best, in the quest for a poverty-free world. To us, Africans , the call must be taken seriously to guarantee better future devoid of deprivations of essentials of life. Yet we see the probability of eradicating poverty in Africa soon, most especially in sub-Saharan Africa, as a mirage based on daily worrisome happenstances around us. Let's for example examine two of these disturbing trends of events that are giving many of us sleepless nights: belief in witchcraft and witch-killing or witch-stereotyping.

Read more here:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Mikey Times: Nigerian Child Witches: Hate and Hope

Dear friend,
There are many of us doing one thing or the other about this saga. The only problem is that we have diverse approaches which are good for the campaign.
Take a look at this web add:

The Mikey Times: Nigerian Child Witches: Hate and Hope


HAWK Forum

Dear friend,
Thanks for your supports but we still need more of it.
The National Forum was held as advertized.
Below are the pictures of the event:

Pix 1: From Left: Peter Adegoke, Director, Udo Schuklenk African Bioethics Initiative and Coordinator, Nigeria Bioethics Group, Miss Seun Sangolade (YHN), Mr. Sam Ikpe-Itauma (, Yemi Ademowo Johnson, YHN-HEF HAWK-Africa, and Mr. Temidayo Oladipo, YHN-HEF HAWK-Africa

Pix 2: From Left: Mr. David Omunukuma Olali, a Ritual Killing Researcher and a doctoral candidate at a leading U.S. University, Yemi Ademowo Johnson, YHN-HEF HAWK-Africa,Mr. Sam Ikpe-Itauma ( and Mrs Fatimoh Adebola, ChildHealth Advocate and Psychologist, who recently completed her programme at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Monday, January 19, 2009

HAWK Project: It is a Week of HOPE!

Dear friend,
This week is a week of hope. President-elect Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the President of the United States of America.

Need I remind anyone of the drama and political scheming that herald his emergence as the 44th President of the 'most powerful country in the world'?
The author of "The Audacity of Hope" is one person many citizens of the world are banking on to actualize their hopes and aspirations within the next four years.

Take a look at the picture here. Look into the eyes of these children and deny being moved to help them survive victimization, in the name of witchcraft. Help give them HOPE of a victimization-free future!

Help give them HOPE of a victimization-free future!
Send-in your own/group's petition today!

Yemi Ademowo J

Friday, January 16, 2009

Just Before the Weekend!

Dear friend,
Sorry to bother you again.
But come to think of it, why am I disturbing you or sending these mails? I wont say much but implore you to please find time to watch some of these youtube videos over the weekend. Please spare the time.
I want to believe that you will HELP by sending your or your group's petition in the coming week.

Please watch any of them:

1. African Children WITCHES


2. Child Witches, Nigeria

You can also find time to read some of these local editorials on the issue:

1. The Guardian Newspapers: The Akwa Ibom Debacle On Child Rights

2. The Punch Nerwspapers: The plight of Akwa Ibom children

3. The Daily Trust: Tackling the witchcraft question in Akwa Ibom

Dear friend, please SEND-IN YOUR PETITION TODAY!!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

HAWK Project: National Forum on Witchkilling and Stereotyping in Nigeria

Dear friend, as a follow-up to other YHN HAWK Project activities, a national forum/advocacy seminar on 'The Akwa-Ibom ChildWitches Saga: Ethnographic Report and Possible Solutions' will come up at the Alumni Center, University of Ibadan, Ibadan on 21 January, 2009 between 10am and 2pm.

This will be preceeded by a Youth Leaders' Interactive Session on 20 January, 2009 at a yet to be agreed venue.

We sincerely hope that you will assist us with YOUR PETITIONS as this will ease the work of the youth leaders that will attending the forum from the south-south zone.

Thanks for your anticipated co-operation.

Yemi Ademowo J

HAWK Project: Legal Advocacy Tempting as a Catalyst

Dear friend, we know your time is precious, yet MUST we allow this INJUSTICE to continue unabatedly?

We have decided to pursue this case legally, at the court of law, that is, to seek legal redress on behalf of these victimized children, with the hope of compelling the Akwa-Ibom State Government to take action on our demands.

Our search for pro bono legal services has commenced. By mid-February, if our petitions have not done the magic, then we shall use a court order/injunction as a catalyst.

And your petitions? They will be part of the evidences. Kindly let us know when you have sent a petition letter.

You see? You are vital to thisn struggle for justice!
We need you!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What is YHN Doing?

Dear friend, we are trying to get everyone involved in the cause to end this dastard act, the affected or victimized, the community (including some churches), the government and every other persons that could help.
Our activities are four phases:

1. Advocacy to dissuade members of the affected community from taking that cause of action
2. Whistle blowing the activities of the pastors involved in such acts
3. Participate in, organise and collaborate on projects that will dissuade the act
4. Train the youths, who are the change catalyst in societies, on how to reject being tools in victimizing, tormenting and even stoning the alleged witches, as well as how they have to fight against it.

On January 8th, 2009, YHN organised one of such advocacy training at the Youth Council Hall of the Ibeno Youth Council, with youths within Ibeno, Esit Eket, Mbo and Eket in attendance.

**This project is supported by Human Etisk Forbund, Oslo Flyke

In case you are wondering, how to get there,I mean Pastor Akpe's church,dont worry.
The church is located in Esit Eket Local Government, Akwa Ibom State Nigeria. The signpost above will show you that you have entered Esit Eket, where the death of countless young men (who died on motor bikes) and teenage mothers have been blamed on many children, within the area.

Pictorama of Churches involved II

Dear friends,
Below is the [picture of the Christ Apostolic Church, Ikpa, Esit Eket, where Pastor Akpe Alfred help to 'send' witches out of countless children, using all manner of devices.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pictorama of the churches involved

Here are the two churches I was able to get their picture during my recent visit to Akwa-Ibom.

The Presiding pastor here is Pastor Akpan Samuel

HAWK Project: Help Petition to Save these Children!!

Dear friend,

Having realized that everyone is important in these quest for a sane society where human rights of all humans will be guaranteed, the Young Humanist Network, Nigeria is seeking to compel the Akwa-Ibom State government to among others:

1. Enforce the newly enacted Child Rights Bill, recently passed by the Akwa-Ibom State House of Assembly,to the letter,without any executive interference.

2. Enjoin the State Assembly to also enact a Bill that will also Protect the Aged, most especially the vulnerable old-women.

3. As the Chief Security Officer of the state, Governor Godswill Akpabio should as a matter of urgency constitute a special task force , which will comprise members of the police force and the civil defense corps, that will stem the current tide of jungle justices rampaging the state

4. We will also like to enjoin the state to suspend the activities of churches investigated and found to be involved in child abuse in the name of exorcising witch-spirit, and the pastor prosecuted according to the Child Act operative in the state.

5. Finally,we want the Governor to provide security for and around Mr. Samuel Ituama, the Director of Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network, Eket, where over 160 children and about 5 old women, who have been accused of being witches, are housed.

These five DEMANDS are what we are requesting that you help us state in your petition letter which should be sent to:

His Excellency,
Godswill Akpabio
The Office of the Governor
Akwa-Ibom State Secretariat
Uyo, Akwa Ibom State,

Kindly write 'PETITION' at the right-hand corner of the envelope.

Thanks for your anticipated cooperation,


Yemi Ademowo J
International Coordinator, The HAWK Project
Young Humanist Network
P.O. Box 38201
Dugbe, Ibadan
Oyo State

The HAWK Project

The recent spate of child-witchkilling in south-south Nigeria is leaving sour taste in everyone's mouth and a source of serious concern to many Nigerian, and non-Nigerian alike.

This continued insanity in religious disguise has been a source of serious concern to many of us who are humanists. For, we are baffled, at the rate at which many parents and guardians are turning their children and wards into the streets in the name of their being witches.

The situation is being fueled by the religious jobbers, many of whom are pentecostal pastors. These evangelists maurading and 'exorcising' in 'God's' name have claimed the fact that over 2.3. million of 3.9. million population of Akwa-Ibom state, a south south state in Nigeria, are witches. Based on this incredible claim, their business of deliverance have been thriving profitably. Now, they charge between N30,000 and N200,000 as the exorcising fee, mostly for child-witches. To exorcise the witchcraft spirit, these evangelists usually beat starve and torture these suspected child-witches and old women.

Based on my recent visit to Esit Eket, Eket, Ibeno, Mbo and Etinan local governments of Akwa-Ibom state, I have come to realise that indeed the problem need to be tackled headlong. The data gathered from the one-week fieldwork is revealing: over 215 children and about 52 old women have been accused of witchcraft between 2005 and 2008. About 12 child-witches and 4 Oldwomen have also been killed, directly and indirectly, through stoning(2) and tacit abadonment in sickness. This to us, as humanists and concerned citizens of the world must not be allowed to continue unabated.

In fact, it is time we all pick up the gauntlet to fight against these oppressive, vindictive and exploitative pentecostal jobbers such Bishop Sunday Okon of Spiritual Church, Ibaka, Mbo LG, Pastor Alfred Akpe of Christ Apostolic Church, Ikpa, Esit Eket, and Pastor Akpan Samuel of the Christ for the World Mission Inc., Ibeno.

Lets Speak Up!!!!!!