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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Danish Woman Rescues 'Child Witch' Abandoned To Die In Nigeria

Nearly three weeks ago, the picture above was circulating around social media, but it was just a few days ago that the story was picked up by the British press. The child in the picture is being fed by a Danish woman who lives in Africa, Anja Ringgren Loven, founder of African Children's Aid Education and Development Foundation. She later took Hope, that is the boy's name, to hospital.

Hope, who is two, had been thrown out by his parents for being a witch and was left to fend for himself; a prime candidate for ritual killers or some sick sexual predator, barring which he would just starve to death. And the community where he may have been wandering for days was populated by christians (who all believed he was a witch) and had a government. The former governor of the state, Goodwill Akpabio, who is now a senator of the federal republic, was involved in many corruption scandals during his tenure as governor. Just before leaving office, he gave himself juicy allowances for life as ex-governor which included a luxury home, healthcare paid for by the state for life, and changing his cars every three years or so. He even owned a private jet paid for by the state while he was governor.

Hope recovering in hospital

The stigma of child witches is very real in Akwa Ibom state and has Helen Ukpabio, a christian evangelist, self-styled witch hunter, and self-confessed former witch, as its promoter-in-chief. She has written books and made movies about child witches, all of which contain some very absurd and bizarre claims about how to identify such witches. These children are said to be responsible for any misfortunes their parents, siblings, or close relatives may be going through such as the inability to secure jobs or have more children, poor academic performances, and 'mysterious' illnesses or deaths. Children suspected of being witches are subjected to brutal beatings using horsewhips and sticks, and there have been many cases of children having their fingers and bodies burned in order to extract a 'confession'. This part of Nigeria is back to the times when those accused of being warlocks were tortured and burned at the stake.

Helen Ukpabio

Leo Igwe, a foremost Nigerian atheist/humanist, and founder of Nigerian Humanist Movement has had several encounters with Ms Ukpabio and members of her congregation in the matter of child witches. She once sued him for £500 million. In 2009 in Calabar, Cross Rivers state, from which Akwa Ibom state was carved out in 1987, members of Ms Ukpabio's Liberty Gospel Church interrupted a meeting where Mr Igwe was scheduled to speak, beat him up and robbed him. The meeting was about the torture of children suspected to be witches.

Leo Igwe
Most children are abandoned or left to fend for themselves by their parents or carers mainly because the means to look after these children are not there. But to abandon a child as young as two to the elements and all sorts of dangers because that child has been labelled a witch by a woman who is apparently mad is most harrowing. That Mrs Ukpabio has continued to spread her deadly delusions across southern Nigeria is an indictment of the governments of Akwa Ibom state, neighbouring Cross Rivers state where her church is based, and the Nigerian government. She was deported and banned from entering the UK in April of 2014 when the British press exposed her witch hunting mission to the country. When will the Nigerian leadership grow some balls and prosecute this wicked witch for grievous bodily harm to, and possible murder of children?

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