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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Victoria And The Nightmare Of Akwa Ibom Witch Children



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Written By Mecky I. Peters



My heart bleeds as I read the story ofVictoria. How her own parents subjected her to midnight torture; when everywhere has been calmed, waking her up at night and burning her with candle to extract confession. This time not Victoria Climbe, but Victoria Akwa-Ibom. We reject our own for others to pick and make good use of as if our own ignorance is incurable. The story of Akwa Ibom Child Witch Story is an endless one of the levity with which the government subjected it to.


In Akwa Ibom State, it is very terrible situation while our government tries a lot to make a window dressing as if nothing bad is going on; and the very the church that causes this whole problem is trying to blame humanists and atheist groups for the very problem that they initiated in 1999, brainwashing people with films such as “END OF THE WICKED,” “ESCAPE ROOT” and “The COVEN” And books like ”The Seat of Satan Exposed” ”UNVEILING THE MYSTERY OF WITCHCRAFT” written by Apostle Helen Ukpabio. The latter states, in part: “If a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health he or she is a servant of Satan.” This is however a common phenomenon in the rustic Nigerian communities where malaria epidemic is nothing to write home about and given the avalanche of mosquitoes from pot holes, stench-emitting blocked gullies and garbage heaps


Years back, we witnessed how aged people were accused of witchcraft, causing unheard-of atrocity were abused, neglected or killed openly, (Remember Akpan Ekwong who led the killings of people in the early eighties?); no child was ever accused of being a witch. But after such films, music and pulpit theology laced with fear of witchcraft and how children have taken over the witch world, the fate of Akwa Ibom child changed for the worst. In every 2 children accused of witchcraft inNigeria1 is from Akwa Ibom. OutsideNigeria, in every 4 children accused of witchcraft, 1 is fromAkwaIbomState. But we continue to downplay on the magnitude of this problem and castigate those who dare to work or campaign to reverse this ugly and dangerous trend. Thank God that this very story is not written by an Akwa Ibom person otherwise they would have referred it to blackmailingAkwaIbomStategovernment at the detriment of child


As I write this piece, inside my mind, I frown at Aniekan Umanah, the present Akwa Ibom State Information Commissioner, for lying to the world that no child has ever being harmed or hurt on account of witchcraft while children continue to face death penalty in churches and their family homes. As we walk the streets daily we see more and more children on the Street because the misinforming, sorry LIAR Commissioner of Orientation and Information has disoriented the people and not help to enlighten his society. I frown at him for not educating the people about the wicked brainwash of these vile and renegade churches.


Some journalists who had reported about the true child witch story to expose the atrocity of these churches and the parents, have been paid by Aniekan Umanah and theLibertyGospelChurchto write a reverse story. With time, I believe we will work with some human right lawyers to face his paid journalists for the monumental deceit. All is not yet Uhuru for them. Let them get paid and tell lies about the fate of children of Akwa Ibom origin. But I must strongly commend some of the journalists and right groups who stood their ground and refused to be paid with blood money to sacrifice our children. Those who see the truth and tell it the way it is; those who have refused to be bought to tell lies. I condemn in the strongest possible terms the News Watch magazine and The News for misleading the public with their paid job to belch cannon of lies about the right groups that work to rescue and protect these vulnerable children. Those who are here knows the truth and cannot be deceived

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As I write now, one child is facing jungle justice out there for no crime he or she has committed. Her only crime is that she was born to an Akwa Ibom person, or perhaps in a poor family. The Akwa Ibom Child Fate is that of witch branding, stigmatisation, torture, abandonment, suffocation, trafficking, rituals and DEATH. The government has not done anything to enlighten the folk and religious groups on the superstitious belief of child witchcraft simply because most government officials believe that those children deserve such fate since they are guilty as charged. They pay much attention to buy the media to tell the world that those who campaign for stoppage of child stigmatization; torture and killing are doing so for pecuniary reason without offering an alternative.


Thank goodness, the federal government of Nigeria through  Dr Idris Kuta, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development recently  issued a   statement acknowledging child witch palaver and made a strong condemnation on those stigmatised and torture children in the name of witchcraft.


I just read in media how the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio is working with the state House of Assembly to gag the media with headlines such as “Gov Akpabio’s Akwa Ibom Assembly arrogating Power to Itself to Gag Journalists.” “Akwa Ibom Govt moves to gag media over critical reporting of Governor Akpabio”


While I am yet to come to term with this, I will no doubt encourage government to pay attention to the myriads of problem that bedevilled the fate of stigmatised children and do more to curb the menace instead of wasting time establishing repulsive laws that will attract more criticism and cynicism. I agree that the law has been passed since 2008, but how many pastors or parents have been prosecuted. Not a single one! Rather we eulogise them and expect every body to do same. Unfortunate! Apart from the mere arrest and bail-out no one has ever face prosecution. Those who report such pastors to the government or its agency, risk being gunned after, blackmailed, even by same government agents with tacit support from the executive government. Akpabio and his government agents have been very infamous in launching vicious and calumnious attack on the right groups backed up by organisation such asLibertyGospelChurchthat invented the child witch imbroglio and indeed phenomenon inNigeria.


The Story of Victoria from Akwa Ibom State whose parents work in INEC and live in Karu, Abuja tells you that Akwa Ibom Child is not save any where in the world with brainwash launch by the Christian fanatical   groups and government inaction or lack of  intervention.Victoria’s story reminds me of the Good Samaritan who wasn’t a Christian but stopped to rescue the dying Christ. Barrister Aja N. Aja who rescuedVictoriais not from Akwa Ibom and may not be a Christian but dovetailed to help Victoria who is an Akwa Ibom Child.

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Apart from the Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) whose, founder (Sam Itauma) and members are Christians all other right groups that are today campaigning for the end to Child stigmatisation are not Christian by inclination or concept but they work tirelessly to save the lives of children who are manacled in churches and starved to death in the name of exorcism and the streets. So what the fusses about atheist and humanist groups when Christian groups have failed us? What the fuss when churches have failed us; when pastors, evangelist, Apostles, Bishop, Prophets have failed us?


I recently attended the attended a UNICEF advocacy meeting here in Akwa Ibom, where a government representative stood up and argued that some of the accused children might be witches. If a government official made such remarks in a high profile advocacy meeting like that, what does one expect how such children will be treated by the an ordinary person?


Such helpless children continue to dot the streets, taking refuge in abandoned structures and becoming prey to human traffickers and ritual killers. What could have happed to all these children if these groups did not step up campaigns to protect them? Reporting such abuse, torture or killing of children on the media is seen as fighting the government. The Akwa Ibom government continues to flaunt its bloated ego sweeping such cruelty on children under the carpet with the archaic cliché “Akwa Ibom Ado Ok”. Meaning Akwa Ibom is Ok! And now, it is “the Uncommon Transformation!” But whatever transformation that may have set in, while the human trafficking business inNigeriaor Africa continues to boom because the syndicates knowAkwaIbomStateis a repository of abandoned children only compared toNepalas a whole, makes such transformation a lip-service.


Truly if the Channel News TV that aired Victoria’s story was in Akwa Ibom, it would not have gone unscathed. The TV anchorman would have been under crucible investigation now by the government security agents. No doubt Governor Akpabio is working round the clock to gag the press using the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly as a puppet, defying the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill that was passed into law by the federal government ofNigeria.


While appreciating the fact that state government had enacted the child protection law, I bemoan bitterly as the implementation   still remains a mirage. How many of these pastors or parent have so far been prosecuted, apart from the arrest and bail? One strong question that refuses to depart the lips of many is: What would have happened to the thousands of children stigmatised children if the civil society and right groups had taking to sitting on the fence? Clearly, with about 50 thousands churches in Nigeria, only one church is leading a campaign against witch hunting; with zero tolerance to witchcraft belief. This is Solid Rock Kingdom Church with Apostle John Okoriko. Can other churches and pastors borrow a leaf here?


To this end, I wish to dole out my Diadem of Honour to the right groups and civil society organizations with the following acronyms for working hard to save the witch children of Nigeria: CRARN, UNICEF, NAPTIP, SSN, YHN, CEHRD NHM and indeed the initiator of Anti Child Witch-Hunt Campaign Mr. Sam Itauma for donating time, resources and love for the ostracized children right to life.


  Peters writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State


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