The HAWK Project

Monday, December 13, 2010

YHN/CRARN/SSNUK/SSNCEF/BRC now free to arrest Helen Ukpabio!

Sequel to the dismissal (today) of the restraining order sought by counsel to Apostle Helen Ukpabio, Barr Victor Ukutt, by Justice T.J.Nneke of the Federal High High Court 2, Calabar, YHN and partners, most especially CRARN, SSNUK and SSNCEF are now free to seek for the arrest of the popular Nigerian witch exorcist.

Apostle Helen Ukpabio' book "Unveiling the Mystery of Witchcraft" and home videos like "End of the Wicked" has variously served as reference texts for many child-witch hunters in Akwa-Ibom and Cross Rivers (and other states).

Special kudos to erudite Barr. James Ibor of the Basic Rights Counsel and Bar. Pius Madaki for the tenacious and enviable doggedness in securing justice and in removing the impediment obstructing the course of justice. We can all hope from here that the arrest will be effected and prosecution started in earnest.

We sincerely want to thank our supporters and partners for working assiduously towards securing justice for these affected children. Although the road to justice might seem rough and bumpy yet the joy of been able to secure it, no matter how long, is long lasting.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

YHN/SSNUK Symposium on "Caging the Monster: Witchcraft Belief, Witchcraft Imaginations and Witch Hunting in Nigeria"

YHN 2010 annual end of the year symposium is scheduled to take place on 22 December, 2010 at the University of Ibadan (with the support of the Stepping Stones Nigeria, UK).

YHN/SSNUK Symposium on "Caging the Monster: Witchcraft Belief, Witchcraft Imaginations and Witch Hunting in Nigeria" is being planned as a means of carrying along ‘the town’ and ‘the gown’ (academics and the general public) in campaign to rid Nigeria, nay Africa, of unproductive superstitious beliefs that are affecting the children negatively

The core need addressed by the symposium is the need to ensure continual robust discourse on the menace called child-witch hunting in the south-south Nigerian states of Akwa-Ibom and Edo and recently in Nasarawa state so as to find a lasting solution

The objectives include: seek the opinion of the those within the academic and the general public on the core questions that affects the discourse; and how best to address the menace use the avenue to inform the participants on what the key groups (NGOs) involved directly in taking care of the affected children are doing and the challenges they are facing draw on the likely supports and expertise the participants could offer in the bid to tackle the menace

Over fifty participants are expected.

For more info contact YHN Senior Projects Officer, Ayo 08027763677

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Please Support this: Petition to Stop the killing of children in Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria

Stop killing of children in Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria

We, the concerned Nigerians of Akwa-Ibom State origin (South- South Nigeria) in Diaspora, as well as fellow Nigerian citizens seize this opportunity to appeal to your office for immediate intervention to save the severely abused, displaced, children of Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria, and the lives of the people who have worked tirelessly to advocate for their safety – Sam Itauma and Gary Foxcroft. We also seek your intervention for the safety of the social workers and volunteer staff members who provide care, medical aid, education, and a protective environment for the abused children.

Read more:

Thanks for your anticipated co-operation!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Akwa-Ibom State Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusations and Child Rights Abuses: Our Position

For Immediate Release

Akwa-Ibom State Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusations and Child Rights Abuses: A Call for Inclusion of Child Psychologist, Human Rights Activist and Commission's Neutrality and Fairness

Our organisation, Young Humanistas Network, also known as YHN, has been involved in addressing child-witch menace in Akwa-Ibom and Edo both south-south Nigeria (and recently in researching into the situation in Nasarawa state) in the last twenty-three (23) months. During this period, we have been able to organise town-hall meetings, meetings with pastors, paid courtesy visits and organise road rallies to highlight the precarious state of child rights in the areas and explored, with the beneficiaries, how best to redress the situation; we even went as far as donating a sick-bay (health center) in one of the interventions. In all of these, we have been supported by the Humanist Action for Human Rights, Norway (HAMU) and Stepping Stones Nigeria, UK (for the pastors' parleys and book production).

While we can beat our chests to say that we have made appreciable impact on all fronts (rescuing, psycho-social supports, prosecution and re-unification), we shall be untruthful to say that we have not been faced with challenges.The challenges we have encountered in Akwa-Ibom has, however, been more gangantuan and disturbing than we envisaged; our staff have been harrassed, our partners' have been frustrated and key officers have been variously haunted by the foot-soldiers of the governor and some highly placed religious leaders. Unnecessary allegations have also been made against us on international and national media such as the CNN, AIT and even the local newspapers, but the joy has always been that WE ARE NOT DISSUADED!

After so many months of mis-information which has culminated in highbrow raising decisions, Governor Akpabio's constitution of a panel of inquiry on 23 November, 2010, we are bold to admit, is a welcome decision; not because of the committee's terms of reference but for the supposedly sincerity of members of the committee.

The committee, by the way, was given the mandate to, among others,
a. determine the veracity of the allegations of witchcraft against children and infliction of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment upon such children.

b. It is also to determine the number of those stigmatized, abused or killed on suspicion of involvement in witchcraft; those culpable; identify the shallow graves and the particulars of children affected under paragraph 5 (e) and also identify those who maltreated, stigmatized or caused their deaths and make appropriate recommendations.

The Commission is chaired by a Judge with over 23 years on the bench, Honourable Justice Abraham and Barrister (Mrs.) Theresa Obot, Dr Okon Edet Akaiso, Dr. Essien Edward Essien, Rt. Rev. John Koko-Bassey and a Chief State Counsel, Barrister Mrs. Uduak Victor Ekwere as members.

Ordinarily, one should be happy of this, though late yet, vital government intervention. Unfortunately, however, the tasks set before the committee and the timeframe (six weeks), non-inclusion of a child-psychologist and seasoned rights activist leave much to be desired.

We therefore call on the government of Akwa-Ibom to:

1. As a matter of URGENCY extend the time-frame of the commission by FOUR WEEKS if truly the Governor wants to unravel the mistery behind the stigma Akwa-Ibom children have been subjected to

2. include a capable child psychologist and a respected human rights activist in the commission to ensure that the members are adequately advised in the screening of gathered child-related information and that the pulse of the populace on the menace is sumptuously felt; and

3. Ensure that the commission, as promised, by His Excellency Governor Akpabio, remain apolitical and futuristic.

On our part, we are ready, as CONCERNED CITIZENS of Nigeria, STAKEHOLDERS and professionals, to partake in the public hearing BUT we shall be happier if the above concerns are taken care of.

Above all, we want to thank His Excellency, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, for this initiative and his untiring efforts to free Akwa-Ibom state children.

Akwa-Ibom Children ADO OK! They are NOT WITCHES!!!


'Yemi Ademowo Johnson

YHN/SSNUK anthology, Suffereth Not a Witch to Live, is out!

Suffereth Not a Witch to Live
Discourse on Child-Witch Hunting in Nigeria

Edited by:
Adeyemi Johnson Ademowo
Gary Foxcroft
Temidayo David Oladipo

Belief in witches is never peculiar to Nigerians, nor is it an ‘African thing’, for there are stories of witchcraft practices and witch-hunting in countries all over the world. Thousands of lives have been lost at stakes, village squares, witch pits, etc., all in the name of witch-hunting globally. However, the contemporary practice of witch-hunting in different parts of Africa, when similar beliefs have been thrown into the rubrics of history in other parts of the world, and, or, in the face of ‘modernity’ and contemporary advancements in science and technology, is quite disturbing. Again, considering that children, the bundles of joy in almost all cultures of the world, are now the targets of witchcraft accusations in some African countries such as Congo, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, among others, one can’t but be moved to ask: is it a case of barbarism? Or is it a resurgence of primitively acts? Or, considering the role of churches, is it a case of ignorance of proper interpretation of religious texts? Does poverty has any role to play in these accusations?

Contributors to Suffereth Not a Witch to Live have one or two answers to proffer to the above questions. Although the book is essentially on the Nigerian case-study, some contributors attempted to go wider to explain the phenomenon in an African context. Indeed, the book can be taken as an amalgam of theoretical and applied contributions on the understanding of the menace called childwitch hunting by academics and social workers researching and working with the victims of the menace. Also included, for personal reflections of the readers to possibly deduce answers to the questions, are excerpts of interviews had with ten victims of childwitch hunting abuse (those who lived to tell the stories).

You can get a copy by contacting:
Yemi Johnson
Gary Foxcroft