The HAWK Project

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Justice for Grace, a Woman Battered, Stripped and Nearly Killed for Witchcraft Allegation

For daring to report to the Police, Grace still receives threats from different people she does not know over the phone. And they are making life miserable for her and her children such that she does not know the next step in life. She feels so unsafe and helpless. 

Hence, she demands for justice as the only way to clear her name, restore her dignity and receive adequate compensation in order to guarantee the future of her children. The NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION CAN ACT ON HER BEHALF. SEND OR CALL ANY OF THESE NUMBERS AND DEMAND THAT THEY INVESTIGATE AND DEMAND JUSTICE FOR GRACE: +2348054707559, +2348077091123, +234807 709 1124, +2348077091126, +234807 569 7449

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stripped, Tortured and Molested for Witch Allegation: Justice for Grace

Accused of being a Witch, Striped and molested by Aiyedun-Ekiti community, JUSTICE FOR GRACE Campaign is on.

The DPO and the IPO are bribed...yet justice must be done! No going back.

JUSTICE FOR GRACE: The King (Alaye) of Oke Aiyedun was an exemplary King for standing for TRUTH and JUSTICE when Grace was mobbed and about to be killed: Grace was mobbed, tortured, locked with dead body at the trunk of the car, naked and subjected to untold inhuman treatment at Aiyedun.

This is really INHUMAN..Grace is not only devastated, traumatized but her means of livelihood has been razed..AN INJUSTICE IS AN INJUSTICE.
OHAWK Project.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Child-Witchcraft Accusation: HAPSTA Aids Police

---arrests petty trader who abandoned ‘witch’son in neighboring state

A petty trader, Mr. Edoho Ben Edoho on Saturday 24th August 2013 was arrested by men of Eket Divisional Police Command for child abuse and trafficking. Mr. Edoho who hailed from Akpautong in Esit Eket Local Government of Akwa Ibom state was arrested at his shop in Ikot Odiong, Eket for maltreating and abandoning his six year-old son Daniel Sunday after Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA) and its partner, Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN)reported him to the police.

According to investigation, Mr. Edoho and his new wife accused the boy, Daniel, of being responsible for their misfortune through his witchcraft; so, Edoho transported Daniel to Port Harcourt back in July and abandoned him there. However, on 1st August, a good Samaritan, Mr. George Obot found the boy in Ahaoda Rivers state and took him to HAPSTA Children Transit Centre in Eket where the boy was accommodated.
Commenting on the arrest, HAPSTA Project Manager, Mr. Ayobami Ojedokun said due to their experience in the state since 2008, members of the organisation are not surprised by the tactics being employed by child abusers and that they will not relax their efforts in prosecuting them. He added that the organisation since 2008 has been caring and fighting for the rights of children maltreated and stigmatised for witchcraft accusation in Akwa Ibom state.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


----          Reunifies Two Boys With Families

The members of Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA) bring joy and smiles to the Asuquo and Okon families when two boys Asuquo Ita Asuquo and Okon Ita Okon who were stigmatised and abandoned to the streets as a result of witchcraft accusation were reunified with their families on Tuesday 20th August 2013 at their various home towns.

Asuquo, a 16-year old who had been at the HAPSTA/CRARN Transit Centre, Eket since 27th September 2011 was reunified with his family at Edikor Village, Udung Uko Local Government of Akwa Ibom. His father, Mr. Ita Asuquo Effiong who received Asuquo said the members of his family are very happy to welcome him back into the family after staying at the Transit Centre for 24 months.

In Oron where Okon was reunited with his maternal family at No. 12, Eyulo Street, his mother Mrs. Ini Okon Adatong appreciated all the organisation did for the boy since he was rescued. She promised to take good care of the boy and protect him from the stigma of the accusation. Asuquo had been in the care of the organisation since 29th April 2012.

HAPSTA with its partner Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) through the Stigmatised Child Rights Project (SCRIP), funded by HAMU, Norway, had since 2008 been fighting for the rights of children accused and labeled as witches; rescuing them from brutality of their accusers and taking them to custody. The SCRIP Project Manager, Mr. Ayobami Ojedokun speaking during the reunification said more children at the Transit Centre whose families and accusers had been reoriented and are suitable for reunification will soon be reunited with their families. He said the organisation will not relent in its efforts to protect and care for the stigmatised children, and most importantly reunify them with their families because the family is still the best place for child development.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Humanists Recognise Outstanding Child Rights Campaigner, Police Officer and Lawyer

A group of humanists under the umbrella of Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA) with their partners at the Child Rights and Protection Network (CRARN), Eket recognised the outstanding contributions of three citizens who have dedicated their time, resources and energies to fighting superstitious beliefs and practices resulting in various human rights abuses. The three citizens recognised and presented with the 2013 Humanitarian Service Award are a Divisional Police Officer, Mr. Sunday Digha (SP), a human right lawyer, Barrister Pius Madaki and a Briton, Chief (Mrs.) Ann Medekong. The three awardees were presented with their awards at the HAPSTA 2013 International Conference held at Roseboom Hotel and Resorts, Eket on Saturday 17th August 2013.

One of the recipients of the award, Mr. Sunday Digha on behalf of other awardees thanked the members of the organisation for the honour done them and promised to continue to be committed to the betterment and progress of the human race. 

Also speaking at the occasion, the Project Director of the organisation, Mr. Adeyemi Ademowo who presented the awardees with the plaques explained that although, the awardees are not humanists but their activities which are in line and promote the organisation’s vision of a world free of human rights violation are recognised to encourage others who are suitably positioned to render such humanitarian services.

Scholars Question Religiosity at HAPSTA Conference

---participants urge Human Rights Education promotion

The important positions human rights occupy in the quest for development in Africa have been recently emphasised. This was reiterated on Saturday 17th August at the 2013 HAPSTA International Conference held at Roseboom Hotel and Resorts, Eket where scholars converged to discuss Africa’s quest for development in the 21st century. 

At the conference with the theme ‘Superstition, Human Rights and Development in Africa’ organised by the Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA), issues pertinent to development were examined by scores of scholars from various institutions who presented papers bothering on pervading superstition and prevalent human rights violation at the face of notorious religiosity in the continent. Some of the scholars argued that religiosity should be played down if development is to be sustained in Africa.

Presenters at the conference include Dr. Essien Essien Daniel, Dr. Hassan Bello Ann Medekong, Adeyemi Johnson Ademowo, Umoh Umoh, Barr. Pius Madaki, Akpan Promise Asuquo,  Ediomo-Ubong E. Nelson, Adegoke Peter Damilola, Diana-Abasi Ibanga, Abdul Hassan Bello, Anthonia Essien, Ayobami Ojedokun, Elegbede Babatunde, Anthonia Essien, Osagbemi Olumide, Temidayo Oladipo, Uchechukwu Ilo, George Ogbonna Mbarah and Tola Layode.

In all, the conference can be adjudged to have made the projected impact because new ways of combating the witchcraft menace were discussed and it affords like-minds the opportunity to meet for the sake of secularism, human rights and development in Africa

HAPSTA Increases Staff/Volunteers’ Capacity to Fight Stigmatisation

Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA) upped efforts to fight superstition and eradicate the stigmatisation of children accused of witchcraft by expanding the frontier of knowledge of her staff and the alert volunteers at a training which took place at the CRARN/HAPSTA Transit Centre Eket on Friday 16th August 2013. The staff and the alert volunteers were trained on strategies of sensing and identifying dangerous situation(s) threatening to the life and wellbeing of the children.

According to one of the organisers of the training, Mr. Ayobami Ojedokun, the need for increasing the capacity of the personnel is expedient at this time due to the changing patterns of child abuse and witch labeling observed in recent times; therefore, the volunteers needed to be kept abreast of time in order to understand the changes. The training had in attendance trainers who are social workers, experts in science education and scholars in the field of culture; among whom are Adegoke Damilola, ’Tola Layode, Adeyemi Ademowo, Oladipo Temidayo among others.

The annual staff/alert volunteers training is funded by HAMU, Norway.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Speakers include:

Ann Medekong 
AdeyemiJohnson Ademowo
Umoh Umoh
Barr. Pius Madaki, "Legal Incuberances
Akpan Promise Asuquo
Yomi Ogunsanya
Ediomo-Ubong E. Nelson, et. al
Adegoke Peter Damilola
Diana-Abasi Ibanga
Abdul Hassan Bello
Ayobami Ojedokun
Elegbede Babatunde
Essien Essien Daniel
Osagbemi Olumide
Temidayo Oladipo
Ajigboye Oyeniyi
Uchechukwu Ilo

George Ogbonna Mbarah
Anthonia Essien

Tola Layode
Moruff Mudashiru

Date: 16-17th August, 2013

Venue: Roseboom Hotel and Resorts, Eket/Oron Road, Eket, Akwa-Ibom State

Time: 9:00am - 6:00pm

Participation is free!
In conjunction with CRARN, Eket
Sponsored in full by HAMU, Norway (including the book that will be published afterwards!)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

O’HAWK Town-Hall Meeting Kicks Off In Ekiti

The HAMU supported project – Omuo Humanist Against Witch-Killing and Stigmatisation (O’HAWK) of the Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA) kick started its series of town hall meetings with the people of Omuooke-Ekiti and the Kota-Ekiti Youths. The enlightenment meetings tagged ‘Safeguarding Human Rights and Addressing Superstition for the Sake of Development’ were successful as they bore immediate fruits.

As the people of Omuooke-Ekiti celebrate the new yam festival with the traditional breaking of new yam by his Highness, Oba Valentine Otitoju, on Tuesday 30th July, 2013, the members of the community were enlightened on the need to protect ‘accused witches’ rights as failure to do so retards development. The people of the town who gathered in large number at the palace of Oba Otitoju were sensitised on human rights, evils of superstition and the quest for development in modern Nigeria. The message generated debate among the people as they were divided on the ‘supposed rights of accused witches’, however, the enthusiasm showed by some of the audience who volunteered to partner with the organisation on the promotion and protection of the rights of accused persons testifies to the optimism that the meeting would go a long way to affect the orientation of members of the community positively.

Earlier on Monday 29th July, the youths of Kota-Ekiti, a neighbouring community that shares border with Omuooke-Ekiti, were enlightened on the same subject by members of the organisation. The youths numbering about fifty four (54) at the NURTW Hall, Kota, the venue of the Youth Town Hall meeting questioned the appropriateness of allocating any rights to accused witches and the protection of such when the ‘accused witches’ are perceived as enemies of the good people of the community. Their question was however answered by bringing to their understand, the fundamental issue that the ‘accused witches’ are primarily human and so has the rights as every other humans regardless of what they are being accused of, and hence, their rights must be guaranteed and protected.

The youths who at the end of the enlightenment meeting showed appreciable understanding of the universal allocation of rights exhibited their understanding by volunteering. The meeting produced five (5) volunteers.

As a testimony to the success of the meetings, Major E. K. Ogunsakin (rtd), an indigene of Araromi Quarter in the area and a man considered as the custodian of “peoples’ rights” met and discussed with members of the organisation and promised his full support for the organisation on the project.

- By Seun and Babatunde (O'HAWK)

Friday, June 14, 2013

HAPSTA arrests 'parents' who abandoned their children

HAPSTA/CRARN crack/investigation team and the Police, this morning at around 4:00am arrest Mr Victor Ononganwi in Orukim village in Mbo LGA who abandoned his two children in Eket. The man and wife whom the children identify as their parents were arrested and detained behind the counter.  During cross-examination it was discovered that the two persons were not their "biological parents" rather there were their aunt and her husband who took care of them sometime ago but later turned to stigmatized and abandoned them. Police is planning a re-visit again this afternoon. They are still under police investigation. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

National High School Hosts HAPSTA/CRARN Science Education Promotion Team

Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA) and its partner, Child’s Rights and Rehabilitation Network, Eket continues to promote humanist and science education in the child-witch endemic areas of Akwa Ibom state as her members and staff visited National High School Etebi, Esit Eket on Monday 20th May 2013. The aim of the visit is to promote science and humanist education among the pupils so that they will serve as change agents in checkmating superstitious beliefs and practices.

The students were taught the principles, importance and relevance of science education that are vital in the campaign to eradicate child-witch stigmatisation. HAPSTA resource persons made the pupils to understand the evils of superstitious beliefs and obsolete taboos; and hence, encouraged the pupils to embrace and imbibe scientific and rational thinking that are antidotes to the humiliating cultural beliefs and practices. They were encouraged to in turn enlighten their parents and guardians on the need to embrace scientific worldview and reject superstitious beliefs and practices. The organisation distributed free advocacy materials such as branded T-shirts, hand bands, books and pens to the pupils who participated.

The Principal of the school, Mr. Effiong Asuquo Ekong on behalf of the pupils and the school thanked the members of the organisation for their efforts in attempt to rescue the state from destructive superstitions and belief in witchcraft. He especially thanked the organisation for making his school a beneficiary of the project.

At the end of the programme, ten pupils were selected as HSEP Ambassador (Humanist and Science Education Promotion), while project t-shirts and handbands were given to the students.

Esit-Eket Town-Hall Meeting, another Huge Success

There were indications that we are winning the war against superstitions and belief in witchcraft as a large turn-out, enthusiastic volunteers and encouraging responses from the participants underscore the success recorded at the Esit Eket Advocacy. The advocacy meeting held on Tuesday 21st May 2013 at Abighi Okpono Town Hall, Uquo, Esit Eket had an unprecedented 105 registered participants in attendance, even as 13 enlightened participants enlisted as volunteers at the end of the meeting.

The various informed responses from the town people in attendance after the presentation titled “Support Efforts to Eradicate Childwitch Belief, Witch-Hunting, Abuse and Stigmatisation” indicates that considerable progress had been made in the campaign against child-witch stigmatisation in Akwa Ibom state. For instance, Hon. Eng. Edet Upkong explained that the effort of the organisation had yielded fruits in the area but he however pleaded with the organisation not to rest on her oars in the effort to rid the state of the menace by fighting the antics of the pastors whom through their prophesies accuse and label children as witches.

In attendance at the meeting were Secretary Esit Eket Traditional Rulers Council, Chief Alan Kelvin; Esit Eket Women Leader, Chief Mrs. Asuquo Uwana-Etebi; Hon. Edet Upkong among other notable men and women. Chief Alan Kelvin in his closing remark promised that the people of Esit Eket will continue to support the effort of the organisation in her bid to make life better for the children of the state.

Monday, April 29, 2013

HAPSTA/CRARN rebuilds a dilapitated House of Reconciled Alleged Childwitches

One of the factors that has led to stigmatisation is the depreciated standard of living of families of aleged child witches; hence to forestall further escalation of the stigma the alleged childwwitches have lived with, the HAPSTA SCRIP team through their volunteers renovated a dilapitated building housing two alleged witches and their mum.

The Building before renovation

Expressing her appreciation, the mum of the children thanked the team and their supportters, most especially HAMU, NOrway and Swedish Humanist Aid for their supports.

The building during the rebuilding

HAPSTA on its part thanked the staff, CRARN volunteer Anja, and the alert committee members who supported and volunteered during the renovation.

We are grateful!


HAPSTA Visits Reconciled Alleged Childwitches

In continued efforts to make life comfortable for the Akwa Ibom children that are victims of witch stigmatization and in preparation for our annual ‘Reunion’ 2013, HAPSTA/CRARN team during the week (22-26 April,2013) visited 5 families who have received their stigmatized children back into the family (between 2010 and 2012). During the visits, books and pens were donated to the children as well as various sums of money to make life better for the families.
HAPSTA/CRARN staff with the visited reconciled Children, their mum and a Danish Volunteer, Anja

Five families were visited during the week in various locations in the state and of particular interest is the case of Sunday Joe sisters - Utiton; 10 years and Mkpoikanke; 4 years, who were reconciled in 2011 with their mother after their ordeal as victims of witch stigmatization. The sisters were discovered to be living with their mother in a dilapidated old building ‘let out’ (even though freely offered might be most appropriate) to them by a Good Samaritan. Concerned by their condition, HAPSTA decided to rebuild and renovate the fallen part of the building to in modern style/fashion. Having employed needed builders, HAPSTA and CRARN members volunteered and were involved in the manual labour required for the construction and renovation. In two days, remarkable progress was made as the house is standing now just waiting to be dried before further work resume on it.

HAPSTA/CRARN Staff, the visited reconciled alleged childwitches and a Volunteer, Anja
Stella Okon Tommy, a 14 year old pupil of Eket Modern High School was visited at her home in Esit Eket where she lives with her father and other family members. Stella and her family were happy that HAPSTA intervened in her case as she had been living happily since she was reunified with her family. Also at Esit Eket, a 12 year old Abigael Etim Ayekan was visited. Abigael lives with her grandmother. Due to HAPSTA/CRARN efforts, Abigael who is now a primary six pupil is preparing to write the entrance examination to the high school. All evidence show that Abigael and her grandmother are happy together and she is doing well in her studies.
The team is particularly happy with Jane Ikpe Essien’s situation as she is doing excellently in her studies. Jane, a Junior Secondary School 3 student is one of the best three students in her school. There are testimonies that Jane and her mother are living very well.
The Abasinbong brothers – Emmediong and Emmamoh 15 and 12 years respectively live now with their uncle in Uquo. The brothers were particularly happy to receive the members of the organisation that rescued them and gave them a renewed life. HAPSTA donated School locker and uniforms to the brothers among other materials.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

HAPSTA/CRARN host another successful town-hall meeting in Nsit Ubium

HAPSTA, with CRARN, today, Thursday 14th March, 2013 successfully organised an enlightenment meeting in Nsit Ubium to sensitise the people, the community, on the danger of maltreatment and rejection of their children and wards as a result of witchcraft labeling and stigmatisation.
Bassey, HAPSTA Program Officer, =welcoming participants

 At the meeting held at the palace of the Clan Head of Ubium, Chief Elebom Okon U. Akpan, the organisation told the participants that the accusation, stigmatisation and rejection of their children as witches may further predispose their wards to social vices such as rape, pilfering, thuggery, prostitution, and drug use and abuse. According to Mr. Ayobami Ojedokun, the Project Centre Manager of the organisation, the rejection of children (accused and stigmatised as witches) could make them vulnerable to the kidnappers who are on the prowl in the area for some time now. He explained that most of the stigmatised children are abandoned on the street making them vulnerable prey for the kidnappers.

Cross section of participants with the Clan Head

The organisation which had been working in conjunction with Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) to promote humanist and science education and to eradicate childwitch stigmatisation in Akwa Ibom State since 2008 said that their experiences in dealing with stigmatised childwitches and the abusers make the meeting necessary at this time to further remind the people to be vigilant and raise alarm once stigmatization is suspected.

The new Alerts Committee Team, Nsit Ubium

It is also learnt that there are about three cases of kidnapped children in Nsit Ubium area in the last one week, two were traceable to witchcraft and ritual cases.

HAPSTA SCRIP is funded by HAMU, Norway

Thursday, February 28, 2013


For her role in the stigmatisation, humiliation and expulsion of a 10 year old pupil of her school, the following are reasons that Dr. (Mrs.) O. S. Sallam, the Principal of Federal Government Girls College Ipetumodu, Osun State should be sacked:

  • stigmatisation of the 10 year old child;
  •  violation of the child’s right to freedom from discrimination. The Child’s Right Act states that “a child shall not be subjected to any form of discrimination” but the principal violated this provision and discriminated against the victim;
  •  violation of the child’s right for the dignity of person as the child was subjected to torture and inhuman, degrading treatment;
  •  violation of the child’s right to education;
  •  blind irrationality. The principal acted irrationally as there was no evidence (except a mere dream) that warrant the labeling, stigmatisation and expulsion of the child from the school;
  • flagrant disrespect of law and court order;
  • the principal failed to give protection and care necessary for the victim’s well-being despite being an in loco parentis;
  •  the principal is administering the school undemocratically. She became a dictator through suppression of democratic ethos by violating the victim’s right to fair hearing and equal treatment, and unilateral expulsion of the child from the school;
  •  the Child’s Right Act states that “in every action concerning a child, whether undertaken by an individual, public or private body, institutions or service, court of law, or administrative or legislative authority, the best interest of the child shall be primary consideration”. The principal did not consider at all the victim’s interest in the matter; and
  • gross incompetency. The principal had shown that she is grossly incompetent in her duty as the head of the school.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NIGERIA: HAPSTA Advocates Proactive Action as Witch Stigmatisation is on the Rise

The obnoxiousness of the irrational belief in witchcraft and other supernatural forces is a very troubling concern for those who attend their mind to the evils of such beliefs. Very often, one wonders what makes such beliefs intractable that their adherents could not just jettison their beliefs at the pool of scientific evidence that proves the beliefs unwise and that it has no place in the modern parlance because it leads nowhere. The troubling concern which we think should receive immediate attention is the devastating effect of such beliefs and their adherents’ wicked, inhuman treatment of the vulnerable and defenseless members of our society, especially the children and aged women. It had reached a point where none of us especially the enlightened ones can no longer fold our arms, hold our peace, and keep our cool while watching these evils play on in our nation in the 21st century. We invite you to just objectively follow our story.

Barely eight (8) months after a septuagenarian, Mrs. Rebecca Adewumi was unjustly murdered in Omuo Ekiti by the community on the allegation of being a witch; a 10 year old JSS 1 pupil of Federal Government Girls College, Ipetumodu, Osun State was expelled from school on the flimsy, unfounded allegation of witchcraft. The Principal of the school, Dr. (Mrs.) O. S. Sallam singe handedly expelled the girl (name withheld) from the school after a colleague of the girl in the same school alleged that she dreamt that the girl is a witch who had killed two (2) pupils in her former school and planned to kill another five (5) in the school through her witchcraft.

After the dreamer had reported the alleged dream, the poor girl was inhumanly treated. She was beaten, tortured and they pour oil on her to force confession and neutralise her power (witchcraft). Expectedly, the report got to the Principal and all that the Principal who holds a Ph. D degree could do was to invite the parents of the alleged witch for brief, pep talk and then summarily expelled the girl. In a sane world, the school is supposed to be a comfortable place for kids where the teachers and principals act as in loco parentis and ensure justice, fairness and equal treatment for their pupils. Very unfortunate, our world is not like that and FGGC, Ipetumodu’s principal does not operate on the principle of justice, fairness and equality, as she is a staunch believer in witchcraft. The principal did not give the victim fair hearing neither did she seek justice for her inhuman treatment; instead she was expelled to forestall the alleged planned killing.

Concerned about the damage the allegation had done to the reputation and dignity of the girl; and the psychological ruin that had been ignited in her life by the treatment meted out to the girl, her parents contacted a lawyer, Mr. Bola Adebowale of Debolex Chambers who approached the Federal High Court, Osogbo. The court ordered the school to immediately admit the girl back to school but the principal refused that order and eventually when the lawyer obtained another order stating the consequences of disobedience of order of court, the principal reluctantly admitted the poor girl back and made it a duty to assure the lawyer that the girl as from thence forth is on her own because she would not be attended to academically and otherwise. Not surprisingly and in keeping with the threat, the girl had been left without a guardian in the school. Since then, she had truly been on her own with the students and staff alike discriminating against her (as if there is a standing order from the principal that no one should associate with the poor alleged witch).

At this juncture, it is important to note that although, the case is still in court awaiting ruling, but life has since not been the same for the poor girl. She is traumatised and isolated. She is in miserable solitude as a result of the discrimination against her. The little girl had been damaged both socially and psychologically because of a dream which the dreamer herself cannot be sure she did dreamt. The annoying fact of the case is that the principal or any other staff of that school did not for once think that the dreamer could had concocted the dream to deal with the girl for any offence at all or as a result of jealousy because the poor girl is a brilliant pupil whose previous performance attest to that fact and the fact of her good nature.

For us in Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA), who had been involved in the case as an interested party, we sincerely think it is time for Nigerians to wake up and take action against the pervading evils been perpetuated in the name of belief in witchcraft and other spiritual forces. We feel so concerned and think it is immediate and urgent because a class not previously associated with the belief is unexpectedly exhibiting symptoms of the conviction in the beliefs and hence, subjecting vulnerable humans to disgrace and indignity by violating their rights. We think it is time for action and advocate such proactive actions to forestall future occurrence of stigmatisation of Nigerians as witches. We also think that our educators are increasingly becoming autocratic and derailing from their duties as in loco parentis. We may recall that the Principal of Ajuwon Senior High School, Ogun State, Rev. Mrs. Olufunke Aladeojobi in December 2012 had conducted an illegal virginity test on ten (10) SSS 1 students and in the process defiling some innocent students. In HAPSTA, we believe and are committed to the course. We are hoping that other rational Nigerians will join our effort to rid Nigeria of inhuman and irrational beliefs and practices that denigrate human intelligence and ability.
Onward to reason, peace and attainment of fundamental human rights!

- 'Yemi J Ademowo and 'Tunde Elegbede, for HAPSTA

PRESS RELEASE: HAPSTA Fights in Court for the Right to Education for 10years old girl expelled from High School for being a 'witch'

HAPSTA today, 26th February,2013, appeared in court as a concerned organisation in an ongoing legal battle to assist a 10 year old witch stigmatised pupil enjoy her right to education and ensure she is not victimised nor live under the stigma of the accusation.
The JSS 1 pupil (name withheld) of Federal Government Girls College, Ipetumodu, Osun State, Nigeria was expelled from school by the principal of the school, Dr. (Mrs.) O. S. Sallam based on the flimsy, unfounded allegation of witchcraft after a colleague of the girl in the same school alleged that she dreamt that the girl is a witch who had killed two (2) pupils in her former school and planned to kill another five (5) in the school through her witchcraft.
After the dreamer allegations, the accused girl was beaten, tortured and oil was poured on her to force confession and neutralise her power (witchcraft). When report got to the principal, she took an action of expelling the alleged student without giving her fair hearing. The child's case is currently in Federal High Court, Osogbo, as the parents of the child with the support of concerned lawyers and HAPSTA seek legal assistance to get her back to this school of her choice and enable her to continue her education in same school without stigmatisation by the school community.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Increasing Spate of Ritual Killings in Nigeria: Humanists Call for More Enlightenment and Prosecution of Ritual Killers

Ritual killing and brutal mass murder of citizens by dare devil gunmen have been on the increase in Nigeria, in recent times. These ritual killings are not special preserve of any particular area or group in the country; every region, tribe and state has its own share of the scourge. Ritual killing is an old tradition in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, however the increase in incidences of ritual connected killings in Nigeria should be of concern now to every citizen because civilization had proven such beliefs in ritual irrational and impotent and hence, there should be no need for the rituals and sacrifices anymore. Unfortunately, some Nigerians, Africans, still hold on to such beliefs and indulge in the use of human parts for sacrifices and rituals. These set of Nigerians are responsible for the increasing spate of ritual killings. There are four groups involved in these dastard acts:

  1. Those seeking political powers at all cost who believes that human hearts and other parts are vital in the making of charms that would either sustain them in power or make them ascend
  2. Those who desperately need to make money, and brainwashed into believing that using or getting the human parts will make them get so rich or to amass wealth.
  3. The traditional healers who believe that human body parts including eyes, genitals, breasts and tongues have mystical powers, with many believing they bring riches and other good fortunes. 
  4. The final group is those who believe that performing a human sacrifice will bring good luck or atone for the bad deed they have done.
We, in the Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA), as humanists, are CONCERNED and WORRIED that the government is doing enough or taking seriously these wanton killings. INDEED, it won’t be wrong to say that nothing serious is being done to put the killings under check or salvage the worrisome situation. It is our sincere opinion that the ritual killings are the result of the belief in and efficacy of spiritual forces, which make people to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms and wanting to look outside nature for help and salvation.
A survey of the incidences of the killings leaves one puzzled as to the rationale for the need for such belief and practice, considering that it is crude man inhumanity to man and gross violation of victims’ right to life. For instance, on 6th February 2013, the Oyo State Police arrested one Gbenga Taiwo who conspired with his friends Ganiyu Lukman and Kareem Afeez to kill one Kalifat, his lover and a businesswoman for money ritual. She was lured, drugged and murdered in her sleep. Her body was then cut into pieces and set ablaze in a ritual rite. In another occurrence, some suspected ritualists in Eruemukowharien community of Delta State murdered a popular monarch in the area. The ritualists removed his, the monarch, genitals and intestine and deposited his body by a river bank. Also in Asaba, a female junior high school student was murdered with her pubic hair shaved off and her ears removed by the ritualists.
Another reported case of ritual killing is the one involving two brothers, Omotola Ajayi and Toyin Ajayi, both residents of Festac Town, Lagos. The brothers were arrested and under investigation when incriminating exhibits were found in their residence. Exhibits found include the decapitated body of a male victim, bowls containing blood and sacks containing human parts, one dry human skull and one fresh human skull. The decapitated corpse was found floating in the bath closet with the head severed, hands cut off and the feet severed from the knees. The brothers are suspected to be serial ritual killers.
On April 13, 2012 a lifeless body of a woman was found along Katampe-Kubwa expressway in Abuja at about 7.30 in the morning. The corpse was headless, while some delicate body parts were severed from her body. In another scenario in Akure, the Ondo State capital, a 25years old Samuel Olatunji was paraded by police authorities in January for killing Adeoye Dovo, a hunchback senior high school student for ritual. A similar case is the killing of a 20-year old man Jacob Afolabi, who was allegedly beheaded by his close friend, Tobi Ojo in Osun State. Ojo also severed the private part of the victim.
One of the high profile cases of a ritual killing for political gains was prosecuted in January 2010 in Jigawa State. A High Court in the state sentenced to life imprisonment the former Information Commissioner in the state, Alhaji Abba Umar Kukuma for an alleged involvement in the killing of two children for ritual. (Currently the judgment is under cross examination at the Appeal Court.)
In all of the cases, there is no justification for the killings. However, the rising case of ritual killings and human sacrifices says something about our humanity. Though, it might be difficult to explain but some Nigerians seem to have lost the humanness that is inherent in all men. With the current situation, the solution goes beyond looking unto the government and security agencies but lies in the citizens being renewed. Proper orientation concerning the value of individual lives and the fundamental human right to life of every Nigerian has to be guaranteed and jealously protected. Individual should be taught to appreciate the value of human life and be conscious that even in those extreme cases that they are desperate to gain power, amount wealth, attain physical and/or mental health; human life is and cannot be used as means to such ends. The attainment of a civilised and sane society filled with individuals who value human life and are committed to respecting human rights is what interests us as humanists and an organisation.
Humanists are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating social intolerance. The promotion and adoption of humanist ethics is a viable solution to the tumultuous situation in the country as humanist ethics is amenable to critical and rational guidance that enhances cultivation of the arts of applying reason to solving human problems. If we adopt the humanist principles of social coexistence, Nigeria and Nigerians will be better for it. INDEED, a humanistic and tolerant Nigeria is possible. We must WORK TOGETHER and RID Nigeria of ritual killers!
-          Adeyemi J. Ademowo and Babatunde Elegbede , For HAPSTA
Join efforts to rid Africa of Ritual Killing/Murders
*Enlightenment *Whistle-Blowing *Prosecution
Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA)
Suite 31 Elim Vission Plaza,
Opposite U.I. Second Gate
P.O. Box 19665,
U.I.P.O., Ibadan
ARK-C Hotline: +2347059177468

Friday, February 22, 2013

Visit to a Clan head, on advocacy mission

Chief Ekanem with SCRIP Staff

HAPSTA takes Humanist/Science Education to Secondary Schools in Childwitch Stigmatisation Endemic Areas

Members of the Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA) and Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) partners on the SCRIP Project, on Tuesday 19th February visited Junior Technical School, Ikpa, Esit Eket and Eket Community High School, Eket. The purpose of the visit according to the Programme Manager of the organisation, Mr. Temidayo Oladipo is to sensitise the pupils on the principles and importance of humanist and science education which are vital in the campaign to eradicate child stigmatization as witches in Akwa Ibom State. The pupils who were enlightened on the evils of superstitious beliefs and obsolete taboos were encouraged to embrace and imbibe scientific and rational thinking that is an antidote to the humiliating cultural beliefs and practices.

The principal of Junior Technical School, Ikpa,  Mr Ben, who received the members of the associations, and participated in the interaction between the association and the pupils, commended the association for their effort and promised to continue to support such noble efforts. He also enjoined the association to extend their effort to other schools in the area. Some of the students who are the beneficiaries of the visit expressed their happiness in participating in the discussion as it has open their eyes to the ills of superstition and improved their knowledge about science and cultural practices. They however appealed to the organisation to make the school talk a continuous exercise because it can change the mindset of the younger generation. According to one of the students, Miss Rose, “the discussion on superstition will help us to advise our parents and friends who believe the people and children (sic) can be witches).

HAPSTA has as one of its cardinal focuses to promote humanist/science education in the childwitches endemic areas this year (2013). The aim of this venture is to promote science education among Nigerians especially among young people so that they will serve as change agents in checkmating the crass killings and stigmatization in the name of witch-labeling in Akwa-Ibom in particular and Nigeria, in general.

HAPSTA/CRARN rescues two ‘witch’-children in Okopedi

With a sense of duty and avowed commitment to humanitarian services all over the country, a team of Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA), in collaboration with Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), on the 22nd of January 2013 rescued two boys: Victor Anthony Effiong (9 years old) and Augustine Pascal Offion (13 years) off the street at Okopedi market, Okobo local government of Akwa Ibom state where they hitherto had been exposed to all sorts of child labour and insecurity.
VictorAnthony, one of the rescued, with SCRIP staff and volunteers

The rescue mission, as part of the field activities of the organisations’ SCRIP Project funded by HAMU, Norway and Swedish Humanist Aid, instantly rose up to the occasion after a tip off (receiving distress call through their hotline) from some local volunteers in the town who had earlier informed the organisation that some stigmatized children were living in Okpedi market.
Augustin Offion, one of the rescued, with SCRIP staff  (Ayo and Bassey)

It was gathered that Master Victor Effiong, an indigene of Ibawa village, Okobo, was stigmatised as a witch after he accidentally injured one of his play-mates, and Augustine Pascal Offion was also accused by a Catholic priest and his father as being an accomplice in his mother’s death. Having rescued the children, and informed the police, the organisation has commenced investigation which might lead to any of counselling (and later reunification of parents or guardians) or arrest (and possible prosecution of the abusers and stigmatizers).