The HAWK Project

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

YHN/CRARN holds another successful anti-childwitch branding campaign in Oro Udung, Akwa-Ibom State

In furtherance of our commitments to a world where children will be free from any form of witch branding, which often results in abandonments and killings, YHN in conjunction with our partner, CRARN, held a one-day sensitization town hall meeting at Oro Udung, on Thursday, 1st of July, 2011.

The programme had in attendance the paramount ruler of Oro land and his chiefs, the market women representatives, youth leaders in the area and the head of welfare service of the Oro local government.

The programme was a huge success as vital issues were clarified and the child rights sanctions against child witch labelling explained. An Abuse Prevention and Monitoring Committee was also formed to follow up on the resolutions.

Special thanks to the paramount ruler and his chiefs for the support; and to Essit of Rocky Fella fame for covering the event. And to the TEAM: YHN and CRARN, and also Lucky Inyang led SSNCEF, Eket.

Ayo, Senior Project Officer

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

YHN International Conference 2011

The Young Humanistas Network,Ibadan is pleased to announce its year 2011 international conference to commemorate the 2011 International Year of People of African Descents, aimed at strengthening national actions and regional and international cooperation for the benefit of people of African descent in relation to their full enjoyment of economic, cultural, social, civil and political rights,among others.

The theme of the conference is:

Rights 'Infringing' Practices and Development in Africa

*Witch-hunting, witch-branding and Rights
* Polygamy and women rights
*Widowhood rites and human rights
*son preference and child rights
*ritual killing and peoples' rights

Date: Friday, 23rd September, 2011
Venue: Alumni Hall 1 & II, Alumni Centre, University of Ibadan
Time: 10:00am to 6pm

For presentations, participation and further info:

Dayo: 08060447494
Yemi: 08033861080
Valentine: 08099488318

Monday, May 2, 2011

YHN donates food items, drugs and repackaged radio jingle

Food is essential and vital for existence, so also is health. In fact, in some African cultures, it is generally believed that access to food is the ultimate! Although not planned for in 2011 (because another NGO was taekn care of that), the YHN Board agreed that there was dire need in January, February and March, 2011 to support children at the CRARN Center with food when relationship between CRARN and the other donor NGO went sour and the latter decided not to support the Center. We tried as much as possible stand-in and assist in raising local supports until feeding at the Center normalizes. Special thanks to Ann Medekong who assisted in numerous ways in ensuring that the children never went to bed hungry. Kudos also to the over 19 staff of CRARN who had to go without their wages for three months.

We have also repackaged the jingle running on air to include dissuading trafficking and the state's free education policy as well as the harshest of the punishments for child-witch abuses. Also included is the the life experiences of the abused. The airing has been on but was disturbed (or yanked off, if you like) during the political mumbo-jumbo of late March/early April.

All thanks to HAMU!!


Step Father Sets Two Year Old Girl On Fire Over Witchcraft

When CRARN, YHN, SSNUK and SSNCEF, and other non-governmental organisations were calling the attention to the naked injustices and human rights abuses of children in the Niger-Delta state of Akwa-Ibom, the government and their sycophants were busy denying that such situation exists. However, shock and disbelief gripped the Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusation and Child Abuse inaugurated by Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, as it received a two year old girl who had been badly burnt in the buttocks by her step-father.

The child was forced to sit on a glowing fire by her Step-father, one Assam Bassey Amanam, a 35 year old man from Esit Eket who lives in Efoi Eket. Mr. Assam also branded the child with a hot machetes in different parts of her body, including her legs, palms and her private parts, according to her mother, Imabong.
“When I returned back from the stream, I saw Assam putting my child on fire with hot machetes in his hand branding her too. I shouted on him and raised alarm. When people stated coming, he brandished the weapons against them too. When he realised that a lot of people were coming he locked up my three month old daughter, picked a motorbike and ran away…” Imabong told the commission.
A member of the commission, and medical doctor, Dr Okon Edet Akaiso who examined the two year old expressed shock at the level of the inhumane and degrading treatment meted out on the little innocent girl. “This is not an accident; it is a deliberate act…” Dr Akaiso said.

Responding to questions on how she came to the commission, Imabong said that she was taken to CRARN Children Centre Ikot Afaha, Eket where the child was given first aid treat,e and food by director, Mr. Sam Itauma who gave her transportation and attached a staff to take her to the commission. “He gave me N2,000 for transportation and asked one of his staff to take me here. He also asked one of the staff to go and get the police…”

The Chairman of the Commission, His Lordship, Justice Godwin Abraham, promised to send a letter of summon to the man to come and answer questions on why he carried out such brutality on the little child. “This is not something we should take for granted. If he does not come here, I will issue a warrant of arrest on him,” said Justice Abraham.
The Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State, Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim, who was apparently in the commission to cross-examine the Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), out of sympathy to the child, doled out the sum of N5000 to assist in her medical treatment. “This is the prize the society has to pay for superstition; and this why the governor sets up this commission,” Ntekim maintained.

On why he referred the child to the commission, Mr Itauma sent an SMS, “This is what we are being crucified for. But when a two year old child is burnt on fire on account of witchcraft accusation, we therefore don’t need diagnosis to tell whether we need psychologists or psychiatrists to settle our cases.’’

Apparently stunned by this spectre of disbelief, this reporter headed for Effoi Eket where he met the mother to Mr Assam Amanam (Mrs Ekaete Amanam), who out of lamentation sang her nunc dimittis thus:
“Assam does not allow me to rest. He wants to kill that small child as he brought people to kill his father in 2001. That time many people were killed. They say they were witches. My husband was not a witch. That is Kufre, his brother. He has broken his head. See, I take care of his children but he beatas he likes. When police comes, he runs away. Nobody to help me arrest him.”

Video of the burnt child:

Asuquo Okon CEJ

Levi Fragell Sick-Bay staff resuscitates Baby Stella, transfered her to University of Uyo Teaching Hospital

The health condition of children at the CRARN Center as well as their psycho-social well-being have been of major concern to YHN and our funder, HAMU. Hence, the year 2011 supports were specifically targeted at these concerns. The efforts have not been in vain,as we have succeeded in giving first aid treatments and other minor treatments such as malaria, typhoid, chicken-pox, and others such as fractures, and bruises, sustained by new arrivals and those at the center in recent times. In 2010, we had ten referral cases taken to an hospital and their treatment bills footed by YHN (with the aid of HAMU funds). The most recent cases for this year is Baby Stella.

Baby Stella(8) is one of the three epilepsy patients living at the CRARN Center. In recent times, her daily epileptic seizures have increased to about 14 per day, making her life more 'miserable'. YHN/HAMU provided recommended relief drugs from January to April. The drugs reduced the attacks to 8 in January, 5 in February but in March, the attacks risen again to 13. This necessitated special treatment and another referal to a general hospital. Unfortunately, it was during the electioneering process. The Hospital management (confidentially) told us that drugs were not available for such cases at the time. Hence, we were forced to buy some more drugs for her, specially. The matter however came to another twist on 21 March when she showed signs of waist-to-toes paralysis after about 16 attacks on that day. She was promptly taken to a private hospital because political tensions were high in various parts of the state (Akwa-Ibom) at the time.

From the private hospital where she spent four days, she was transferred to the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (a Federal Government hospital) where she has been recuperating since 24th April, 2011. Several tests have been recommended and Dietitians too have advised, rightly we must confess, and she is now getting better. But funds have also been expended as envisaged. (A very big 'THANK YOU' to HAMU/HEF Board for the supports).

We must at this juncture commend YHN/CRARN staff for committing their time to save the life of Baby Stella, just as they did for Etido in 2010.

Etido (14) is the eldest of the Epilepsy patients at the Center and had the most excruciating of attacks in 2009 and 2010, with an average of 16 attacks per day. He was subsequently transferred from the center with the support of YHN/HAMU and SSN UK to a reformation center at Port-Harcourt. This Catholic Center, from our assessments, provided him a big relief as the attacks, based on the environment, got reduced to two. Unfortunately, however, the high cost being charged by the Catholic center/school made it difficult for his continued stay, as SSNUK could not foot the bill again in late 2010. But since his return, Etido, has been managing.

We can also only wish Baby Stella, the same luck as she recuperates!!

Ayo and Victor
For: YHN/CRARN Levi Fragell Children Sick-Bay Team

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pastor, three others, arraign over childwitch hunting and abuse

A pastor in Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State was last week arraigned before the Oron Magistrate Court 1 for employing the services of hoodlums in an attempt to kill his son, Master Godwin Uko John.

The men who were also arraigned before the magistrate court, gave their names as, Inyang Etim James, 27, Daniel Etim James, 21 and Udeme Effiong Gregory, 27, pleaded not guilty to all the charges brought against them, even as they broke down in tears blaming their action on the entreaties of Pastor John “We would not have done
this but Pastor John persuaded us to torture the boy so that he will pay us.....’ Inyang pleaded.

Pastor John, who is the founder and President of Jesus Miracle Word Mission, Ibaka – Mbo LGA told the court that he did not asked the men to torture the boy but to threaten him so that he would resign from the witchcraft occult.

Nine year old Godwin told the court that his father invited four men because they suspected him of possessing witchcraft spell. “I was sleeping in the house while my father was sleeping on the veranda because the house was so hot, so four of them entered the room and took me to an uncompleted building by 1:00 am in the night. There, they used cutlass, sticks and horse-whip to beat me all over my body; brought hot oil from the fire and poured it on my head, my two hands were broken, I vomited blood and fell down they thought I was dead, they ran away....” Godwin recounted his ordeal.

On how he came to the court, little Godwin said. ‘when my brother came back from fishing and saw me, he got annoyed as my father did not take any action, so he took me and ran to CRARN Children Centre, Eket. The people at CRARN took me to the police of Oron so the police went and arrested them, but one person, Favour, ran away.”

The presiding Magistrate, Mr, S.L Udowan, however, cited conditions for their bail to include N50,000 each, and the surety must have a landed property in Oron. The suspects have been transferred to Eket prison custody.

Speaking on the matter, the Media and publicity Officer, Child's Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) Mr Victor Afaha said though they were faced with a lot of challenges including threat to lives and politicking in cases like this, they would not be deterred in the cause of saving the lives of stigmatized children.

The case was adjourned to 21st January, 2011 for next hearing.

---Asuquo Okon CEJ