By Leo Igwe
horrific torture witches , abuse of witches, murder of alleged witches,
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches(AfAW) calls on the government and people of Adamawa to take urgent measures to end the savage treatment and killing of suspected witches in the state.
This call has become necessary following rampant cases of horrific torture, abuse, and murder of alleged witches in the region. In a recent report, the police arrested 21 persons suspected to have killed seven alleged witches in the state.
In a telephone conversation, the police public relations officer, Yahaya Suleiman confirmed the arrest of these suspects. He noted that the suspects have confessed to perpetrating the crime. He explained that in some cases some of the suspects led the lynch mob to abduct, torture, and kill their parents suspected of witchcraft. The police officer said that the case would be charged to court as soon as they concluded the investigation.
This incident of witch killing is not an isolated case. Adamawa has become notorious for witchcraft accusations and witch trials. They have been other cases of witch persecution and trial by ordeal in the state. Too often witch hunters connive with village heads to carry out these atrocities. State courts also indulge in witch finding and trials. In a particular case, a state court asked seven persons to restore the health of a 3-year-old girl. These seven persons including a 60-year-old woman and 5 children, were accused of inflicting a strange illness on the 3-year old through witchcraft. These reported cases are only the tip of the iceberg of witch-hunting in the state.
AfAW urges the government and people of Adamawa to join hands and stamp out this menace. The witch craze is sweeping across the state because authorities have failed the people; state institutions have failed in the duties and obligations to the people. The police should do more to tackle and end witch bloodletting in the state. Apart from prosecuting suspects and perpetrators of witch torture and killing, they should organize public education and enlightenment program across the community. The police should factor in witchcraft accusations in their community policing programs. The Ministry of Health in the state should also include the topic in its public health education programs.
Witchcraft is a form of superstition. People believe in witches out of fear and ignorance of nature and how nature works.
Witch persecution happens due to misconceptions about causes of illness, death, and other misfortunes. So witchcraft accusation is a health education issue. The state chapter of the National Orientation Agency should take the awareness campaign to the communities. The various village heads should be rallied and mobilized to take preventive measures against witch persecution and killings. The National Human Rights Commission in the state should become more proactive in ensuring the promotion and protection of the human rights of alleged witches. Human rights officers should not wait for victims to come and file complaints. They should know that as in the recent case the victims usually die. Their relatives are either their murderers or they collude with the witch hunters. Or they live in fear for their lives and safety.
Civil society groups should do their bit and use their local insights to address this clear and persistent instance of moral failure.
Ending witch bloodletting in Adamawa is a collective duty and responsibility. AfAW is ready and willing to help the government and people of Adamawa fulfill this important duty, and ensure the eradication of this dark and destructive phenomenon in the state.
Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches which campaigns to end witch persecution in Africa.