A civil society organization, Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AFAW) has called on stakeholders to check the tradition of extra-judicial victimization of innocent citizens over unfounded allegations.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting in Lokoja on Friday, the Executive Director of AFAW, Dr. Leo Igwe, said these allegations are based on falsehoods, fear, ignorance, and superstitions but, unfortunately, people take drastic actions based on these false alarms. They attack, beat to death, and lynch the accused.
He urged stakeholders to join the advocacy to change the global notion that Nigerians and by extension, Africans, are barbaric.
Dr. Leo decried the recent widespread rumours of manhood theft in Kogi state and other parts of Nigeria, insisting that the culture of mob action without due investigations are archaic and uncivilized.
He expressed sadness that similar rumour led to the recent barbaric killing of a man accused of manhood theft in Lokoja.
He, however, praised an officer with the Zariagi Unit Command of Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), Abdulkareem Onimisi Garba and a couple who intervene and stopped a mob from carrying out jungle justice on a married man who was accused of manhood theft in Shettima community, Lokoja.
AFAW honoured the FRSC officer with the ‘Advocate of the Year’ award. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches equally honoured the patriotic couple, Mr. Isaac Friday and his wife, Rasheedat Friday for saving the life of the victim accused of manhood theft in Lokoja.
“We at the Advocacy for Alleged Witches are delighted to deliver this award today to someone who displayed courage and compassion. Someone who faced down a mob and stopped the lynching of two fellow human beings accused of magically disappearing or stealing the penis of someone.
“We are aware of allegations of disappearing manhood and womanhood that are sweeping across many parts of the country with horrific consequences on the accused.
“As the police have noted, these allegations are based on falsehoods, on fear, ignorance, and superstitions. Unfortunately, people take drastic actions based on these false alarms. They attack, beat to death, and lynch the accused. So it takes courage to intervene on the side of the accused. It takes heroic efforts to try and save the lives of suspects because such efforts could lead to the attack and killing of any persons who try to stop the mob,” Dr. Leo said.
Dr. Leo commended the Lokoja office of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for its laudable role in the victim’s case and called for more collaborative efforts to stem the tide.
In his address, the State Coordinator of NHRC, Lokoja Office, Barr. Nuhu Muhammed, said the commission will soon launch a state-wide campaign against victimization and stigmatization.
Barr. Nuhu called for concerted efforts to protect the rights of victims accused of being witches across the state.
Stakeholders, drawn from the civil society organizations and media, agreed that the terrible practices are largely fueled by spiritualists who are mostly illiterates.
They also agreed that the uncivilized practices are poverty-related as no single case has been report where the rich and powerful in the society are accused of being witches and they as well have never reported any case of manhood theft.
“Rich people are never accused or victimized for being witches, and it is curious that their private parts don’t disappear,” one the participants noted.
The stakeholders expressed surprise that victims who were accused of witchcraft are always poor and powerless, wondering if a real witch will be helpless when victimized.
Sharing his experience, the Benue State Director of AFAW, Mr. Duyum Dominic, said the public are often limited to reports from accusers while the accused are denied the right give their side of the story.
Dominic said AFAW works in partnership with security agencies to ensure right violators were apprehended. However, he noted with dismay that the Police force are usual slow to respond to incidents relating false allegations and victimization.
He restated the commitment of Advocacy for Alleged Witches to defend and protect victims.