Witchcraft: Taking A Nation Hostage

Witchcraft: Taking A Nation Hostage
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BY SAMAILA ISHAKU

When it comes to the issue of witchcraft or wizardry, depending on the choice of word by the user are just the same. But not recognised or captured in the nation’s law books as a crime that could be cited against anyone, it is becoming more of what is taking vital space in various formal and non-formal situations.

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Citing some examples of recent events in and outside legal parameters, it would be revealing how far some Nigerians have taken the issue of witchcraft even when it is not within the purview of the nation’s legal books. Even at that many run afoul of the law by infringing on others’ rights by accusing others of engaging in wizardry.

 For instance, two farmers, Aruwa Kwala, 50, and Shenyi Salihu, 50, recently docked in a Magistrates’ Court in Gwagwalada, FCT for allegedly accusing their neighbour of being a witch and killing a three-year-old girl.

The police charged the defendants who reside in Dafa village, Kwali Area Council FCT, with defamation of character.

The Prosecution Counsel, Sunday Iyakwo, told the court that Salihu accused Mary Dauda of killing his daughter through witchcraft.

Iyakwo said that during the course of investigation the two defendants made a confessional statement to have called her a witch.

He said that the offence contravened the provisions of Section 392 of the Penal Code.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The Magistrate, Mrs Punarimam Balogun, admitted the defendants to bail in the sum of N100,000 each with one surety each in like sum.

Balogun ordered that the sureties must reside within the court’s jurisdiction and must provide a verifiable means of identification to the court.

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She adjourned the case until Nov. 23 for hearing.

 In another rather unprecedented legal excursion, a judge in Song Local Government Area of Adamawa State, ordered the detention of some persons based on sheer accusation of engaging in witchcraft in which they caused the death of some persons.

The issue became public knowledge when the Northern Co-coordinator, Advocacy for Alleged Witches, Aliyu Bashir Limanci, condemned as unacceptable the decision by a judge in the local government  to detain the four for allegedly killing one and torturing another.

Limanci in a press release issued to journalists in Bauchi, said that there is no evidence or any law in Nigeria that allows people to be detained over accusations of witchcraft.

It could be recalled that on November 3, 2021, a Chief Magistrate Court in Yola, Adamawa State presided over by Adamu Abdulrazak ordered the accused  four men to be remanded in prison custody for allegedly holding two people in a trance and torturing them through witchcraft. The accused persons were named as Sani Bolere Baban Yello, Kero Jediel, Babangida Amos and Zebulum Benjamin.

Group said: “Our stance is that witchcraft is a superstition and there is no evidence or any law in Nigeria that allows people to be detained over accusations of witchcraft.

“We at the Advocacy for alleged witches are against any persecution of people over a superstition called witchcraft because there is no scientific evidence or man-made laws that acknowledge its existence. A lot of people are being falsely accused of witchcraft, the accusations they know nothing about. Many of these people are ostracized, persecuted and some of them will never be able to get back to their normal life due to discrimination”, he added.

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The group has promised to follow their cases and ensure they are set free by providing the suspects with legal support.

On a rather bizarre and frightening dimension, one Victor Etimeyo Obot, 36, was sentenced to death by hanging recently by a High Court sitting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital  for killing his father, whom he accused of being responsible for his misfortunes through the manipulative powers of witchcraft.

Obot, who hails from Ikot Obio Mkpong Ikono community in Uyo Local Government Area, was given the maximum sentence by the presiding judge, Justice Okon Okon after the prosecuting counsel proved his case beyond every reasonable doubt.

The Court held that there was credible evidence that the deceased died after the accused had attacked him with a machete, which was recovered at the scene of the crime; 7C, Abak Road, Uyo, on July 6, 2019.

“I have no doubt that the accused did not only intend to cause the deceased grievous bodily harm, but resolved to eliminate him for the nebulous, unsubstantiated allegation that his father was the cause of his problems”, Justice Okon said.

The Court held that “a man who stabs or inflicts a machete cut on another on the neck region, is deemed to have intended to kill or cause grievous bodily harm to the person”.

Again, there is another scenario as a middle aged woman who sells “ Banga rice”, at Dederu Street Okumagba Avenue in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State accused of witchcraft narrowly escaped mob attack.

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The woman popularly known as “ madam banga rice” was said to have stuck to a street barricade within the neighborhood but this was not to be as she was struggling to pass through the narrow portion of the barricade as it also gathered that in the attempt she allegedly fell where she confessed to have been flying back from her coven but fell.

But attempt by angry mob to lynch her was stopped by the security agents who later took her away.

The Public Relations Officer in the State DSP Bright Edafe said that the woman was saved by the Police for further investigation, adding that the allegations of witchcraft is not known in law adding that the woman would remain with the police until the situation calms down.

These are just a few of the reported cases of relating to witchcraft recently as compiled by AljazirahNigeria. What it implies is that numerous other cases may not have come to the limelight but ended in the realm of jungle justice.

Many stakeholders have counselled that wizardry being more or less in the realm of superstition, should not be allowed to take any place in the nation’s legal processes.

Aljazirahnews