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

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