Relatives torture two children over alleged witchcraft

The children

The children

Two children ─ Mary
Odiong and Master
Ekong Asua ─ both
eight years, from the
Okobo Local
Government Area of
Akwa Ibom State, have
been tortured and sent out of their homes on the allegation
of witchcraft.
Odiong, who spoke with our correspondent on Thursday,
said a few weeks after her uncle died in Okopedi village of
an ailment suspected to be Acquired Immune Deficiency
Syndrome, some relatives of hers said she was responsible
for the AIDS and the subsequent death of the uncle.
She said, “The people in my family called me and started
asking me questions whether I was a witch and why I killed
my uncle. I told them that I did not know anything about
what they were talking about.
“They started beating me. They hit me with cutlasses. They
cut my buttocks with knives.
“After the beating became too much, I lost consciousness.
Later, I woke up to find myself in a bush. I have been living
on the streets since last month without food and shelter.”
The second victim, Asua, from Oti Oro village, told our
correspondent that his parents died a few weeks ago from
strange ailments.
He said after the death of his parents, his uncles began to
accuse him of killing them through wizardry.
He said, “My uncles told me that they went somewhere to
find out why my parents died. They said they were told that I
killed both of them through witchcraft. They tied my hands
and started beating me up with native sugarcane and asked
me to confess.
“When I insisted that I knew nothing about the death of my
parents, they took me to a bush, where I met Odiong. Both
of us have been living on the streets since then,” he said.
The Project Director, African Children Aid, Education and
Development Foundation, Mr. Nsidibe Orok, said it was
unfortunate that children were still branded as witches and
wizards in a state that had put in place laws prohibiting the
abuse of children.
He commended the state police command for responding to
the plights of the hapless children.
He urged the police to investigate the matter with a view to
bringing the culprits to book as a deterrent to others.
He, however, attributed the incident to ignorance and
poverty. He advised religious organisations to educate the
people more on the need to care and love little children.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Etim Dickson,
said he had yet to be briefed. He promised to get back to
our correspondent once he had information about the
children.
But a police extract from the Okobo Police Division, signed
by CSP Abdulkhadir Eljamal, and seen by our correspondent
revealed that the children were picked up and brought to
the station by volunteers of African Children Aid, Education
and Development Foundation.
The children are currently receiving treatment at the
University of Uyo Teaching Hospital.

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