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By: Onike Rahaman.  
 Published 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 gulag.

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.

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