The HAWK Project

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).

Monday, February 18, 2013

HAPSTA International Conference, 2013

Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA),Ibadan is pleased to announce its year 2013 international conference aimed at initiating discourse on the need to review certain cultural/religious practices and beliefs that infringe on the tenets of human rights and stunts holistic development in Nigeria, and Africa.

The theme of the conference is:
Superstition, Human Rights and Development in Africa

1. Culture, Cultural Practices and Superstitions
2. Religion and Promotion of Superstitious Beliefs
3. Culture and Religion in the age of Science
4. Science, Scientific mindset and Science Education
 5. Science, Humanism and Development
6. Superstition, Modernity and Human Rights

 Date: Friday and Saturday, 16-17th August, 2013
Venue: Civic Center, Ikot Ibiok, Eket, Akwa-Ibom
Time: 10 am

 For presentations, participation and further info:
 Dayo: 08060447494
Yemi: 08121210824

Abstract of not more than 150 words should be sent to any of the contacts below, on or before June 30, 2013. and

Thursday, February 14, 2013

HAPSTA condemns killing of health workers

Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement, a humanistic world, peace and tolerance promotion organisation in Nigeria condemns, in strong terms, the recent killing of the nine health workers in Kano and Yobe states. The Projects' Director of the organisation, Mr. Ademowo Adeyemi describes the killing of these innocent people as totally barbaric,outrageous and unacceptable, especially when these people were rendering selfless humanitarian services to the people of the states and the country at large. The killing of these people is totally unacceptable because they were rendering services to humanity and were working selflessly to provide basic life-saving interventions to the most vulnerable people especially in places where the government could not effectively intervene. HAPSTA joins other well-meaning Nigerians to offer sincere condolences to the families of the three doctors from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,that were killed in Yobe state and some health workers in Kano state.We are also using this medium to express our concern on the state of security of the nation especially for humanitarians who painstakingly spare their time, left their families and the comfort of their homes to help the less privileged and vulnerable people within the society. The killings are highly unacceptable and pitiable if people cannot be guarantee safety especially in the northern part of the country where some religious sects are pushing against western beliefs and culture. These intolerance of seemingly western cultures and religious beliefs among these sects, leading to the incessant killings, have become a source for concern among humanitarians and its high time the government look into the security of lives and properties within the area as this ugly phenomenon can not be allowed to keep repeating itself. Hence,the group opines that “There is a need for the government to strengthen the security of the country not just in favour of the health worker who stake their lives in rendering humanitarian service to vulnerable people but also to all its citizens". These killings can not be allowed to continue without proper government intervention as this is the only way to encourage the humanitarian services which would go a long way in assisting the effort of the government in achieving it vision 20-20 goals. Damola: For YHN Media Unit