Tag Archives: Child witches

An Ode to Nwanakwo: a boy bathed with acid by the father

31 Mar

By Sam Itauma

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Absolutely shocking! Distasteful, traumatizing and unbelievable! Can this be another April fool? No, it is not. The news is indeed true: Nwanakwo is DEAD! This was the state that beclouded the Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) Centre when the news of the death of a 9-year-old Nwanakwo Udo Edet from Ikono LGA who was receiving treatment at University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH) filtered in; having been bathed with acid by his father.

Pitiful! Poor, innocent Nwanakwo was taken to the UUTH in July this year from the General Hospital Ikono when his medical situation deteriorated. His sin was the acceptance to an invitation to attend a prayer meeting with a church in Urban, near Calabar, Cross River State Nigeria, according to the child. “When I arrived at the church, people were clapping and dancing. I prayed to God to bless me and our family including my father. As soon as the pastor came, he started turning around, holding my head ‘Do you know that you are a witch?’ he asked me. I told him no, I am not a witch…” ‘He told me that I must confess or he will beat me, and even as he slapped me immediately. He handed over a bottle of olive oil to me to be drinking at home. I was annoyed and went and told my father so that he will arrest the pastor with the police.

To his chagrin, his father merely told him that if he were a witch he would be cast out of the house. That was an understatement. After four days his father told him that they would travel home to see their relatives. The little lad was so elated by this offer. Did Nwanakwo and his father come back truly?

Nwanakwo told CRARN team who visited him at the UUTH in August that his father called a cyclist and whispered to him. They mounted on the bike and moved to a particular road that was bushy up to a distance where there were no houses and stopped there. His father took him inside the bush and pretended as if he wanted to ease himself, while the cyclist waited. “He brought out a gallon from a sack bag and forced me on the ground, pressing my legs with his knees, he forced my mouth opened and poured acid into it. I cried and pleaded with him that I am his son; he shouted and called me a wizard and devil. He poured the acid on my face, head and body and ran away. Somebody came and took me to the police.” He said with a clear voice as is using a wireless microphone.

Looking at Nwanakwo’s photograph, the acid burns are very glaring and terrifying. The boy, who lost his mother four years ago, said he wanted justice to prevail. “Even in my grave, I want my father and Pastor King of Mouth Zion Light House, Urban to be arrested and brought to book.” The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of UUTH, Prof. Emmanuel Ekanem was contacted to know what measure has been taken to ensure that justice is done. “The Head of the Corporate Affairs Unit (UUTH) has contacted the Divisional Police Officer of Ikono LGA who said that his men have been drafted to investigate the matter …” the CMD had responded briefly.

This brutish act was committed in January this year, precisely eight months ago, and Nwanakwo died about four days ago. As at the time of writing this piece, there was no news as to the arrest of Nwanakwo’s father or Pastor King. Will justice ever be done?

Nwanakwo represents the thousands of children in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Delta, Abia, Rivers States, etc., who have suffered similar fate; either by being set on fire, thrown into the river to serve as delicious meal to the fish, buried alive, poisoned to death, slaughtered, hacked to death, pierced hot pokers into the anus, stoned to death, incarcerated and manacled in churches or prayer houses, sold to child traffickers or ritual syndicates, enslaved in brothels, strangled to death, starved, neglected, hung or tied suspended with head downward to die by piece-meal and or bathed with acid.

The rebranding of Nigeria is a project I so endeared and so I can die for it. But the rebranding has to start from the first rung of the ladder. The first rung is children. The visit by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio to children at CRARN Centre where over 200 stigmatized or witch-branded are rehabilitated children is an inroad to this concept of rebranding. Therefore, all the undoing committed against these children must be addressed and redressed. The Childs Right Law should not be allowed to be sleeping in the archives and libraries unattended to (the Child’s Right Act passed into law in 5th December 2008). Its spirit should be evoked and allowed to hound the phoney pastors, fake evangelists, apostles and prophets. The Child Witch Inventors should not be allowed to continue in their hoodwinking business using the name of God and garnering criminal awe and reverence while children continue to suffer and die; the image of Christianity and Nigeria remain in the mud They must face justice. There should be no sacred cow. This, to me, is rebranding! Rebranding should be an egg we cannot trifle with if sincerity is anything to go by. Parents who give themselves up to be brainwashed by the renegade men of God thereby unleashing all sorts of terror on their children should be made to face the full weight of the law. To say that the rate of child-witch branding with its attendant consequences on children is alarming is making an understatement.
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This is not enough; there must be a Special Implementation Committee saddled with the responsibility of monitoring the activities of churches in liaison with the police in ensuring the prosecution of child’s right violators in the truest spirit of the law. But I am confident that where the conventional law takes some doses of sedatives and remain drowsy, fidgeting or opt not to wake up at all, the natural justice will brace the storm and fish out the untouchable and the sacred cows. ‘Be not deceived, God is not mocked…’

You will agree with me that I have digressed a lot. So I hereby plead for amnesty. Yes, Nwanakwo, in the spirit of rebranding should be immortalized! This will awaken the consciousness in our psyche that children, the world over, deserve special attention; not assault and battery, not machetes cut, not hot iron-branding, not hot water-bathing, not even violent exorcism, but love, good food, education and good health. And that no one should be religiously irreligious as this sometimes leads to ‘insanity’ thereby giving the urge to harm others, especially vulnerable children.
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Nwana, my sole-friend, your death reminds me of the 9 year old Mary Effiong of Oruko, Oron axis who was slaughtered in a broad daylight in 2007 by his beloved daddy because an apostle of God ‘revealed’ to him that his frequent arrest by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency-NAFDAC for trading in Indian hemp and hashes, was the handiwork of his daughter who was a witch. He was arrested, but pressure from the elite and the community made him walk the street like Fidel Castro of Cuba while in office. Justice was not served! So for Nwanakwo, will justice ever be done?

Sam Ikpe Itauma is the President, Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. (First Published August 2009)

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NOW THAT SCAM-ARTIST ATA IKIDDEH HAS JOINED NDDC MEDIA TEAM…

5 Jul

 

Ata Ikiddeh 2

“Why are you dissipating too much energy on Ata Ikiddeh, he has never been a serious person. He was my classmate at the defunct School of Arts and Science, Uyo. While in at UNICAL too, he was course mate of former Governor Godswill Akpabio. He used to dance breakdance at UNICAL. It was on this strength that he won an award then called Mr. UNICAL.”

That was a message, crispy and clear from a concerned Akwa Ibom son who felt Ata Ikiddeh’s noise was not worth the attention. But then anyone who ignores Ata, does so at his own peril. This is moreso when so many amiable indigenes of the state, like former screen delight,Regina AskiaWilliams who reside outside the country, are yielding towards the emotions raised by his ilk. I remember the build up to the 2011 elections, the same desperation and blackmail were employed by the same guy and the next thing was his strong persistent clamour to take over the media team of the then Governor, His Excellency Godswill Akpabio. It got to a point that Mr Ikiddeh would sent message after another to the Governor on how the Commissioner for Information Aniekan Umanah failed to properly inform the people, and how he waded in to redeem the image of the governor on the social and global media. His pestering was uncontrollable and anyone could just imagine the volume of pressure he mounted on the former Governor, who characteristically refused to succumb to blackmail. Most of the text messages undermining the Aniekan Umanah-led information team were usually forwarded to the subject of the blackmail.Ata Ikiddeh scam artist

For close to two years, between 2009 to 2011, Mr. Ikiddeh was usually seen with a small camcorder, recording projects and posting them on his social media platforms. Perhaps it is instructive to note that in 2009, Ata first came to Uyo with a group of about six diasporans on a fact finding tour, and despite being shown round the entire projects locations in one week, he saw it as a Vista for endless all expense paid trips. Most times even when he got the clips from the information team, he won’t hesitate to forward a message to the former Governor as his personal efforts at salvaging the battered image of the governor. Almost a month would not pass without Ikiddeh arriving the state with his small camera, and the usual text messages to get support. That is the story of a tall bespectacled dude at the tarmac of the newly commissioned airport, with his brown Elizabethan checkered blazers. Although unsolicited, the State government made it a point of duty to always find him handouts. Of course I was the Special Assistant to the Commissioner and had a fair knowledge of most of Ata’s activities. On one occasion, he wrote a passionate letter about his rent expiring in his London apartment, and his children being unable to attend school.

It is obviously not a surprise that he found his way to the doorstep of very humble and listening Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rd.Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke. It takes a broad mind to imagine the pestering and harassment he may have meted on the peaceable number one state lawmaker. This aspect of Ata dates back to 2010 during the ‘Child Witch Saga’ that compelled the state government to intervene and rescue the children from the CRARN home in Eket. It was a very emotional moment, seeing the terrible condition of young children suffering from the ignorance of their parents. My involvement in the evacuation enabled Ata to have access to the process. He said he would like to join and we brought him along. When I received a call from the then Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare Mrs. Eunice Thomas, the following morning, I was shocked to hear that the same Ata in his usual nature had forwarded a text to the Governor on how he narrowly escaped dead while trying to rescue the children from their ‘captors’. He had painted a picture of a war scenario where he was the Rambo that helped wade of the savages that came out with machetes. The commissioner was upset with me, she said it was unfair for the Ata Ikiddeh to go a-lying to the governor. In the true sense of it, there was never a resistance from the center when the government team arrived and it took three trips to evacuate the inmates to the Divine Children’s home, built initially as the security village in Uyo.

Like I had said somewhere else previously, Ata is a lawyer by training, and his mates in the Nigeria Law School include the likes of Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senator Liyel Imoke, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Anyim, Senator Grace Bent, former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Chibudum Nwuche, among other notable Nigerians. He had no history of involvement in media services in any known media establishment or department, neither could he prove he had consulted for any reputable agency or government. These were obviously addendums to his penchant for blackmail, which probably accounted for his appointment as one of the numerous Special Assistants on Projects Monitoring, to the then governor in 2011, as against his crave for the soul of the information machinery. If ever someone exists who would have entrusted Ata Ikiddeh with the job of managing his image, it ought to have been His Excellency Godswill Akpabio. But he got a job of project inspection for all his troubles. It was like, let us find Ata something to do, and save ourselves the troubles of his harassments.

I remember the day I called Ata when he started rolling these spiteful messages on the social media against the Governor, I was in my office and when he received my call, I explained to him that it was not fair for him, a beneficiary of the system to attempt pulling the ladder down. He started explaining to me that he has done his best to get the Commissioner to involve him and that he even got recommendation from the Speaker of the State House of Assembly. After submitting his proposal, the commissioner has failed to send for him, and has not also been picking his calls. It was an absurd thing to hear, that someone could tell me he has resorted to media attacks on the governor because his proposal didn’t meet favourable consideration.

Most people have gone on the social media space, urging the state government to respond to the calculated jaundiced smear campaigns by Ata Ikiddeh and brothers. Like I said, genuine and reasonable people usually ask questions before to conclusions except where there is a malicious intent, like in this case.
Everyone who cares to know, has seen through the various communication media that the Governor of Akwa Ibom state His Excellency Mr Udom Emmanuel has clearly made a bold expression on the health sector of the state. Governor Emmanuel clearly stated that the medical equipment being brought into Akwa Ibom are bought first hand from the manufacturers in the United States of America, and are being shipped in 100 containers to Nigeria. The administration, he echoed resisted the temptation of purchasing equipment from several third world countries to be guaranteed of their quality and durability. So far more than 25 of those containers have been received and deployed for use. The hospitals in Etinan and Ikono have been well equipped and furnished and were commissioned recently by the Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and the Governor respectively. These much information are in the public domain, produced and circulated by Commissioner Charles Udoh. Ata has access to these. Because his interest is in his personal gains than these information, he overlooks them and goes for the jugular of the Commissioner for refusing him his outrageous media consultancy.

Other hospitals like Oron, Okobo, Eket, Oruk Anam, Uruan among others are undergoing renovations and re-equipping. If Ata and his cohorts were sincere, instead of writing and publishing on rag tag sheets, they would review government projects and come down to inspect and access before going to attack the commissioner for information and the media team. I remember the day I personally called him to advise against towing the path of self-destruction, he took it in bad faith, went on the media alleging blackmail.
In summary, it is well to note that Ata disturbed the Speaker of the House of Assembly and out of compassion, the speaker opted to introduce Ata to Charles Udoh. Note, Barr Luke possibly paid his transport fares and lodged him in a hotel, and for Ata, this means that his proposal ought to be accepted at all cost. If Ata Ikiddeh wanted information on the achievements of government, he got it, more than enough. Others get it when they seek. Currently, the state government runs a whole lot of media programmes on the achievements of the governor. Discover Akwa Ibom, Update Akwa Ibom and Akwa Ibom Rising are documentaries that run both on local electronic media and cable TV. There is a feedback mechanism for citizens to access the government spokesman on SMS,whatsapp messages, social media platforms and even the state website. Today, we have a man who benefitted consistently from government for over six years, coming out with a threatening proposal including a clause for hotel bills, flight tickets and other expenses. Didn’t he owned a house in Uyo while working for the state government a year earlier? That is story for another day.

By his own admission, Mr Ata Ikiddeh has joined the media team of Mr. Nsima Ekere, the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, who is neck deep in the 2019 governorship race against the incumbent governor. He said Charles Udoh refused to give him attention, Mr Ekere picked his call and accepted his offer. Ata has repeatedly expressed his prowess as a media expert, without whom nothing can work in a media team. Methinks he would have set out for work immediately to gain acceptance from the already existent team members of the Nsima Ekere crew who may see him as a gold digger. Don’t get me wrong, no one is against his being accommodated in Mr Nsima Ekere’s media team, but he should promote Ekere and NDDC and stop knocking Governor Emmanuel and his media team. He is expected to bring that media ingenuity and show the world those achievements of NDDC in Akwa Ibom that every other media hireling has unfortunately failed to showcase in the past three years. He should exhibit his media skills at his new duty post and stop crying over the job he couldn’t get at the Hilltop mansion.

(c) Essien Ndueso

#PictureNews: Six Children Rescued From Human Traffickers’ Den, 7 Missing

24 May

No fewer than six children from different local government areas of Akwa Ibom State were yesterday rescued from what is believed to be the hideouts of human traffickers in Eket by volunteers of the Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN).6 Children Rescued From Human Traffickers' Den, 7 Missing

The Manager of the organization, Pastor Hezekiah Akpasi stated this while fielding questions from newsmen in his office at the CRARN Children Center, Eket.

Pastor Akpasi said the children who were all stigmatized in various churches and prayer houses were 13 in number and seven were nowhere to be found as they were believed to have been whisked away by the human trafficking syndicates who lured them into their enclave and took them away before the organization got the tip.

6 Children Rescued From Human Traffickers' Den, 7 Missing“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 to take for work and go to school ” said Akpasi.

He added that they got a 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 back to CRARN, otherwise she’d be killed by the father. So she opted to go back to the streets where she was rescued during an anti-witch branding campaign rally organized 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 KM) after two of his friends on the streets were badly beaten and tortured by their brothers to a state of coma before dragged into the bush and he became afraid that he would be the next victim so ran away.

6 Children Rescued From Human Traffickers' Den, 7 MissingFor a five year old Wisdom Friday Ndohose from Enen Ekpene, Afaha-Eket, the story is different. Friday told newsmen that he lost touch with his mother after their pastor told him that he was responsible for the accident his mother had. His mother then took from Uyo to Eket and returned him to his father. Though his father welcomed him, such welcome was merely short-lived as his stepmother and father later turned him into punching bag and usually tied him to a pillar in the backyard, burnt a nylon bag and allowed it to be dropping on him.

He said even after he ran out of the house, his father normally comes to the streets where he stays with friends and beats the hell out of him saying that until he releases his wife’s womb from the witch coven, he would never know peace.

6 Children Rescued From Human Traffickers' Den, 7 MissingThe CRARN Children Centre in Eket was established in 2003 by a Nigerian, Sam Itauma when he rescued four children who were being beaten by a dozen of adults in his community with the fanciful claim that they were holding down the sales and progress of the market in his community. Since then, the centre has continued to rescued pariah children and street urchins from the streets and woods.

-WWW.CRARN.NET

CRARN Calls On Police To Investigate Case Of A Child Bathed With Hot Water

16 Feb

Anambra  State: The Nigerian police and other security agencies have been called upon to investigate the case of a four-year-old female child who was bathed with hot water over accusation of witchcraft in Anambra State, the South Eastern region of Nigeria and bring the culprits to book.Burnt girl, Child bathed with hot water over witchcraft

The Founder and President of the Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) Mr. Sam Itauma made the call in a telephone chat with newsmen yesterday.

Itauma stated that his organization was prepared to work with the security agencies in the country to unravel and bring the culprits of the heinous crime to book to serve as a deterrent to others. The CRARN founder said the little girl did not deserve such gruesome attack by an adult who has the obligation of protecting her.

The little girl was said to have been poured with hot water all over the body by her stepmother who believed that the child was possessed with witchcraft powers and was responsible for her persistent illness.

“We’re willing to work with the police and other relevant agencies to make sure that the perpetrators face justice to serve as a deterrent to others.”

Mr. Itauma disclosed that the fate of the burnt child was first brought to limelight by a CRARN volunteer and member of the Children Brigade International, Mr. Ubong Etuk who has been working assiduously to campaign against the silent brutality against innocent children across the country on the basis of witchcraft superstition.

The charity worker called on the government to carry out and sustain enlightenment campaigns to brush off superstition in minds of the people to lessen the spate of witchcraft related attacks and abuse on children and elderly persons. He averred further that anyone accused of witchcraft would not have a defender on his or her side even as the immediate relations would be scared and flee from him, thereby allowing the victims to suffer and die in the hands his accusers and attackers.

“The only way to checkmate this trend is for the government across the country to partner with the civil society and faith-based organizations and launch a vigorous awareness campaign so as to cushion the yoke of superstition in the people’s mind.”

Mr. Itauma lamented that even the scholars who were supposed to be the touch-bearers of the society were themselves trapped in the vicious circle of witchcraft belief which he said was entirely superstitious and baseless. He regretted that religious profiteers were exploiting the ignorant population in Africa to fan embers of discord in families with their false teachings for personal gains.

“It just baffles me that in this 21st century, you still have greater chunks of the scholarly community believing that ordinary diseases like malaria and high blood pressure are caused by certain spiritual and mysterious beings somewhere. This has given some religious profiteers the leeway to dominate the airwaves with spurious preachings and fears with the sole intent of exploiting it to their whims and caprices.

For details go http://www.crarn.net

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