Alleged witchcraft: NGO rescues five kids in Akwa Ibom

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Child’s Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), at the weekend rescued about six children tagged wizards from human traffickers’ hideouts in different local government areas of Akwa Ibom State.

The organisation’s Manager, Pastor Hezekiah Akpasi, disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists in his office at the CRARN Children Centre, Eket, Akwa Ibom State. Akpasi said the children, who were all labelled as witches in various churches and prayer houses were 13.

The manager, however, said that seven of them were nowhere to be found because they were believed to have been taken away by the human traffickers who lured them into their enclave before CRARN was tipped off.

He said: “We believe from what the children said that all of them were denounced as witches and wizards by some of these hungry and desperate pastors and prophets. As we got the information, we went there immediately.

The children even said seven of their colleagues were already missing after some men came and told them that they have a place where they will work and go to school.” Akpasi added that they got hint from a child who was reunited with her parents six months ago but pushed out of the house again with the warning that she should not return to CRARN, otherwise she would be killed by the father.

So she opted to go back to the streets where she was rescued during an anti-witch branding rally organised by the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Women and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and related matters (NAPTIP). One of the rescued children, Emmanuel Akpan Uno, said he trekked from Oron to Eket (about 50 kilometres) after two of his friends on the streets were badly beaten and tortured by their brothers to a state of coma before they were dragged into the bush and he became afraid that he would be the next victim.

For five-year-old Wisdom Friday Ndohose from Enen Ekpene, Afaha-Eket, the story is not different. He told journalists that he lost touch with his mother after their pastor told him that he was responsible for his mother’s accident. According to him, his mother took him from Uyo to Eket and returned him to his father.

Though his father welcomed him, but it was merely short-lived as his stepmother and father later turned him into punching bag. He said they usually tied him to a pillar in the backyard, burnt a nylon bag and allowed it to be dropping on him.