The HAWK Project

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.