Benji, 7 Accused Of Witchcraft While He Was Three Years Old

Akwa Ibom State: A 38 year old man, Mr. Michael Effiong from Odoronkit in Esit Esit Eket Local Government Area was on Thursday arraigned before the Esit  Eket Magistrate Court, Uqou over torturing and abandoning of his seven year old son, Master Benjamin Effoing.

 

Mr Effoing was arrested barely a week ago by the Esit Eket Divisional Police Headquarters after a group of NGOs in the area petitioned the police. The Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) and the Young Humanistas Network (YHN) in their joint petition, told the police that Mr. Effiong had earlier abandoned his little son while he was 3 years old after putting the little lad under intense torture claiming that he was responsible for his failure in life.

 

The little boy, fondly called Benji was rescued to CRARN Children Centre in Eket where he was given medical attention, care and support for three years before he was reconciled with the father last year. He was again found roaming the street, about 11 kilometres away from his father village, with scars and wounds all over his body. When asked what happened to him, he said “My father said that the witch power has not finished in my body. Every night he will tie my legs and hand then hang me on the roof while beating me with wires and sticks…Then he took me in the night and dropped in a place I did not know; I began to walk around the street looking for CRARN Centre.”

 

Mr Effiong who had earlier signed an undertaking with CRARN to love, protect and give the child education was arrested in his house early morning penultimate Friday for not only torturing and abandoning the child, but for breaching spirit of the undertaking he signed with the organisations.

 

The intense pressure from members of the Odoronkit community mounted on the police to give out Mr Effiong, who is a local wood sawyer on bail, did not, however, yield dividends. The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Esit Eket, Mr. Dike Uchechi, while chatting with news men said the prosecution of Mr Effiong will go ahead to serve as a deterrent to others who make abandonment of children in the area a way of life.

“I told the Police Prosecutor in my division, Mr Akpabio to go and charge the case to court. This will serve as a deterrent to others” the police boss said.

 

Speaking to news men, the Director of Administration of CRARN, Mr. Emmanuel Okon said the organisation will work with law enforcement agency to prosecute parents who abandon and torture their children

 

“CRARN with its partners will continue to follow up cases of torture and abandonment of children to ensure that the children are not unduly exposed to danger. For the churches that encourage parents to abuse their children, they should read the scripture carefully and tell us where it said that children should be treated in this way.” Mr Okon maintained.

 

The Project Manager, YHN, Mr Ayobami Ojedokun said he was appalled by the rate at which children were constantly labelled as witches and thrown out to roam the streets to become easy prey to human traffickers. He called on the state government to engage churches in intensive campaign to check the trend of stigmatizing children as witches.

 

Though Mr Effiong pleaded guilty to all the charges preferred against him, the presiding judge, said she will transfer the case to the Director of Public Prosecution, (DPP) in Uyo who will then proceed with the case to the family court in line with the new child right law of the state. She commended CRARN and YHN for job well done and significantly for giving the child absolute care while being abandon by the parents.

She however, ordered that Mr Effiong be remanded in custody till 23 of March, 2012 when the case will be transferred to Uyo.