As part of our efforts to advocate for human rights and peaceful co-existence, the Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA) on Wedsnesday the 11th of June 2014, holds town hall meeting with the religious of Omuooke, Kota and Badoore area of Ekiti-east Local Government, Ekiti.
The purpose of the meeting was to explore the nexus of religious beliefs, jungle justice and the principles of human rights with the aim of mitigating the incidences of witch stigmatization in Ekiti State. The preference for the choice of the topic and the setting is predicated on the prevalence of the instances of jungle justice which involves witch-killing and stigmatization and the killing of perceived thieves in, Kota, Omuooke and its neighbouring towns.
The meeting which started at 3:00pm as scheduled had 50 participants in attendance among whom we have religious leaders; representing each of the three popular religions namely: Christianity, islam and African traditional religion, serving corp. members, young school leavers, and school teachers.
The meeting kick-started with a brief introduction on who we are and what we do by Seun Joseph. Oluwakemi Alaba gave an elucidated talk on the idea of jungle justice. And Oluwasanmi Adeyanju took us through the fundamental human rights and the essence of the principles of human rights. In his presentation, Noah Balogun related the talks of the former speakers to the prevalent happening of jungle justice in Omuooke and its environs, noting that jungle justice is a menace which must be dealt with and making emphasis on the need to meet with the religious leaders to reason together to fight the menace.
Noah Balogun thus beseeched the religious leaders to cooperate with us by advocating for the respect and sanctity of human rights, peace and social justice as against jungle justice and witch-hunting capable of deterring the desired growth and development in the area and the country at large.
This section was followed by an interactive session which took about an hour. Particular questions were asked about: how we get sponsored for our projects, whether or not we are religious or political in our activities by Rev. Arojo, one of the participants. Other questions discussed are: whether witches exist or not? How and what to do to avoid the problem of witch-hunting/ and how can we protect our human rights in the face of wanton human insecurity in the country. Noah Balogun and Opeyemi Adeyinka did justice to the raised questions, noting that HAMU, Norway and AFRUCA, UK be appreciated for the support given to us so far and that the principles of human rights must always be considered while dispensing their services as religious leaders.
Way forwards: the unenlightened Muslims, Christians and traditionalists should be educated on the useless passion of ritual killing. Education and human rights education/advocacy is considered to be the key to resolving the menace of witch-stigmatization. Participants assured that they shall take active part in ensuring that this they promote sermons that would be conscious of the tenets of human rights and social tolerance.
The meeting which lasted for almost three hours was rounded off with the eventful taking of group pictures with the participants to make it memorable. About 21 participants volunteered to join our organization.
---Noah, Seun, Ope and Samuel, for OHAWK