February, 17th, 2010
Clearly from Akwa -
Ibom state child witches saga, arises the popular
condemnation of the barbaric and animalistic behaviours of
certain population of the people of the state. The
allegation of witchcraft leveled against the kids
constitutes a metaphysical problem and it borne down to
human right violation. What is at stake is the future of
these children. The chronological ages of these children
notwithstanding, some people still have guts to lunch
unwarranted onslaughts against them. The plight of the
innocent children is like a narrative with the themes of
rejection, hatred, and parental abandonment. Witchcraft
accusations, is a product of people’s superstitious beliefs
and it is somehow incompatible with the demand of
globalization and modernity.
The difficulty of destroying the beliefs in child witchcraft
is not unconnected with efforts to find rationality for
human failures and apparent contradictions in social order.
But generally, the existence of child witches is difficult
to believe. The skepticism by some of us is popularized by
due consideration of the age, maturation, experiences and
exposure of those children that were accused of witchcraft.
The madness which is currently being demonstrated in
Akwa-Ibom state sounds contrary to the logic in witchcraft.
The witchcraft tag on these innocent kids is to attract
hatred towards the helpless victims. In the process, the
mystical powers of these kids were exaggerated. The belief
which lacks empiricism appears to be a causation of
misfortunes that befell these innocent children in the hands
of their parents and the devilish men of God. Watching the
pictures of these unfortunate kids on the television,
clearly show agony in their faces, they seem helpless and
found to wear sober look. Some of them have become
malnourished due to poor diet while languishing in the
The prevailing cultural value in the state, absolved the
parents of the child witches into the belief in witchcraft
even though the claim lacks scientific proof. I insist that
these children are innocents until it is otherwise proved by
court of competent jurisdiction.
As a matter of fact, the Akwa Ibom rage against children is
an affront which is condemnable. Of course, this is a form
of child abuse. It is so regarded because the kids who are
victims experience ill treatments in the hands of their
captors. The child’s physical, moral and mental well-being
are affected by the singular act. The report had it that the
child witches were usually subjected to neglect, torture and
harassment which may result in bruises, broken bones,
permanent physical or developmental impairment, emotional
trauma or even death in extreme circumstances. Of course,
the United Nations Organization recognizes the rights of the
children. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
emphasizes, in particular, that corporal punishment and
all-too-common humiliating forms of discipline in the family
and in schools and other institutions are not compatible
with the convention.
The tales of the child witches portray the people of the
state as being wicked. The pictures of these children as
publicized by the media could evoke tears. Worse still, no
single adult has been alleged of witchcraft under the
present pursuit. I share the sentiment of those that argued
that the witch catchers are themselves witches. Therefore,
it is logical to argue that if the adults were not witches
themselves how would they identify those who are witches.
The current situation in Akwa – Ibom state shows that most
of the parents of the affected children lack correct
understanding of the role of parent in child upbringing and
development. Instead of the parents protecting their wards,
many of them chose to hand them over to fake pastors to
dispossess them of the supposed evil spirit. It is
unbelievable, clearly irrational that it is the parents of
the kids that usually identify and tag them witches. This
tendency is capable of destroying family affinity, affection
and love between the parents and alleged child witches.
If not for the media, the vampires of Akwa Ibom state would
have continued in large scale, stigmatizing, maiming and
killing innocent children. Also, the so called men of God
were reported to be using their churches as detention or
rehabilitation centres. The question is: does the government
aware or approve the ‘witch-hunting’ operation of these
churches. Whatever the intention of the parents, wrongness
of their strategy has portrayed them as irresponsible family
heads. Again, the involvement of some churches is a matter
of serious concern. It calls attention to atrocious
behaviours of some men of God.
Unfortunately, the non-challant attitude of those in
government justifies the allegation that they are
collaborators in this sordid act. It shows insensitivity on
the part of the government to have pretended that such thing
never happened until the media blew off the lid.
It is worthy of reference, the positive roles played by some
non-governmental organizations in calling public attention
to the lunacy that is going on in Akwa Ibom state. Despite
the hue and cry of people over this bestiality, the police
are yet to effect any serious arrest of the suspects of this
devilish act. This establishes further that the Akwa Ibom
state police command is as guilty as the perpetrators of
this heinous crime of blackmailing innocent children of
being witches. Are there security and intelligent reports on
the child witches?. If the response is affirmative, the
contents need to be made public.
It is disheartening that only children of illiterates and
semi-illiterate parents are principally burdened by the self
appointed witch catchers. What is police doing in
investigating cases of those reported to have been tortured
to death in an attempt to extract confession from them. It
is trite in law that confession obtained under duress, by
force or use of torture is inadmissible in the court of law.
Predictably, the people of Akwa Ibom state by subjecting
thousands of their children to traumatic conditions,
physical and psychological injuries, are destroying the
foundation necessary for future intellectual capital
development of the state. Even if the children exhibit silly
and careless behaviours, the good thing is to counsel,
educate or scold at their immoral acts.
Given the security implications of war being currently waged
against the child witches, the governor of the state, Chief
Godswill Apabio must be unequivocal in condemning the act of
barbarism. Machinery needs to be set in motion by the state
government to rein in this wicked souls and save the
children. This tomfoolery should not continue.
Onike writes from Oyo town, oyo state, Nigeria
public affairs analyst.