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African Governments Urged To End Witchcraft Accusations Against Children

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Governments on the African continent have been urged to stamp out stigmatisation and accusation relating to witchcraft, albinism, disabilities against children.

The call was made in a new report following a research by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) which has just been made available to us.

According to the report, six countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and Niger reported instances of ritual infanticide; eleven countries – Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Rwanda and Zimbabwe reported ritual attacks against children with disabilities; five countries – Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali and Tanzania – reported attacks on children with albinism and seven countries – Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania reported instances of violence against children accused of being witches.

The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) report shows that every year, thousands of African children are accused of witchcraft and suffer ritual attacks, abuse, physical and psychological violence, yet most governments are turning a blind eye.

“Africans have ignored this horrific violence for far too long,” said Dr Joan Nyanyuki, Executive Director of ACPF. “It is utterly unacceptable that witchcraft accusations and ritual attacks on children are still widespread across the continent. Governments must uncover this hidden shame and address these crimes and extreme forms of violence, which have life threatening effects and often result in the death of innocent children,” she added.

 

The report uncovers the prevalence of witchcraft accusations and ritual attacks against children across Africa. It finds shocking gaps and failures by governments, despite most countries being signatories to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

 

“Many countries’ laws do not explicitly prohibit accusations of witchcraft against a child, which in itself is an act of psychological violence. Worse still, beyond their failure to prevent these accusations and violent attacks, governments have also failed to minimise the harm children suffered when they fall victims,” said Dr Nyanyuki. 

 

‘“African states must uphold their obligations to protect all children, especially those who are vulnerable, at risk of being accused of being witches and of facing ritual killings. Among those in need of greatest protection are children with albinism who face the most gruesome forms of ritual attacks which result in extreme violence and death. Such accusations and attacks are crimes and must be treated as such – they must be outlawed and punished.”

 

ACPF is greatly concerned that despite national child protection laws, witchcraft accusations and ritual attacks against children have been reported in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Niger, Angola, Eswatini, Liberia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Central African Republic, Nigeria and South Africa are countries.

 

The report highlights the case of a 13-year-old girl from Benin who spent years in a child reception and protection centre after being accused of witchcraft, only to be ostracised by family and community upon her return home and eventually being forced back into care after only four days.

 

“The horror that children accused of witchcraft are subjected to is indescribable” said Dr Nyanyuki. “They suffer public humiliation, forced confessions, torture, violent beatings, are forced to ingest traditional ‘cleansing’ medicines, are expelled from their homes, ostracised from their communities, maimed and, in extreme cases, murdered. They carry the scars of isolation, neglect and victimisation on their mental health for their entire lives.”

 

The report acknowledges progress in tackling the abduction, murder and mutilation of children with albinism for body parts to use in so-called ‘magical medicines’ – for examples, it showcases Malawi’s new laws and dedicated government action which resulted in attacks on people with albinism declining from 60 in 2016 to just four in 2021.

However, the report concludes on a sombre note, highlighting the woefully inadequate human and financial resources available to tackle witchcraft accusations and ritual attacks on children. What little support is available comes mostly from international donors. 

“Witchcraft accusations and ritual attacks are rooted deep in our African beliefs, culture and tradition, and are often shrouded in secrecy,” added Dr Nyanyuki. “They remain one of the most elusive harmful practices challenging governments across the continent. Government authorities must focus on preventing witchcraft accusations if they are to succeed in uncovering this hidden shame.”

 

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New Naira Notes: Emefiele Finally Appears Before House of Reps

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has finally appeared before the House of Representatives which summoned him over the crisis caused by the redesign of some naira notes and the exchange of old naira notes with new ones by the populace.

Emefiele is appearing before the ad hoc committee set up by the House to investigate the crisis, which is chaired by Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, was to issue a warrant for Emefiele’s arrest over his repeated failures to answer at least four summons from the House.

The House had shelved its plan to go on break for the presidential and National Assembly elections, which was to commence on Thursday, over the CBN governor’s failure to answer the last summons issued to him by the committee.

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Protesting Youths Attack, Haul Stones at Buhari’s Convoy in Kano

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Despite assurances given by Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, some angry youths in the state, on Monday, hauled stones at the advance convoy of President Muhammadu Buhari, during an official visit to Kano.

Security had been beefed up across the Kano metropolis as the President visited the state to inaugurate eight development projects.

The President arrived at the Aminu Kano International airport in the morning and from there, he was conveyed by helicopter to the palace of the Emir of Kano, Aminu Bayero.

However, in spite of the heavy security presence mounted on the routes leading to Ahmadu Bello Way where the President was to launch Galaxy Backbone Limited’s project, angry youths holding stones of various sizes and wielding sticks reportedly attacked Buhari’s convoy and helicopter as it hovered above them.

Videos circulated on social media showed the moment the irate youths pelted stones at the helicopter believed to be conveying the President.

One video showed citizens angrily struggling with some unidentified security agents while a convoy made its way through their midst.

Another video showed a road littered with stones while teargas canisters were being fired to disperse the angry mob.

The Punch observed as the protesting youths shouted “ba ma yi” (down with you) and ran helter-skelter to avoid being caught by heavily armed security operatives who provided security for the President and his convoy.

Besides Hotoro and a few other projects that were inaugurated, the President’s chopper was parked at the Emir’s palace, from where he proceeded to Kumbotso Local Government to inaugurate the 10 megawatts solar power projects.

However, the President’s trip to Kumbotso did not record any attack by any mob, as he was sandwiched by security operatives, who comprised heavily armed soldiers aboard motorised Toyota Hilux and was also supported by armed mobile police special forces.

The Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, had recently in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Abba Anwar, asked Buhari to postpone his planned trip to inaugurate some projects in the state.

Ganduje said in the statement that the naira redesign and January 31 deadline for old notes had brought hardship on residents of the state, adding that the development made people angry.

“Deeply concerned with the hardship caused by the limited time given for halting the use of old naira notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria, and for security reasons, Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje reveals that the state resolved and wrote to the presidency that the visit of the president to commission some projects to be postponed,”  the statement said in part.

However, Ganduje, while speaking to journalists after a meeting with Buhari in Katsina, expressed readiness to receive the president to commission the projects in the state.

“We are very much ready to receive him and we have a lot for him to commission, including Federal Government projects and state government projects. They are state-of-the-art projects,” Ganduje said.

Prior to the Ganduje episode, angry youths had attacked government officials when the President visited his home state in Katsina to inaugurate some projects on Thursday.

The youths were said to have staged the protest to express their anger against the hardship being experienced in the country.

The situation reportedly degenerated when the youths started throwing stones, causing a commotion that created tension in the area.

The Punch

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NNPP Zonal Secretary Dumps Kwankwaso, Embraces Atiku

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The former North-East Zonal Secretary of the New Nigerian Peoples Party, Dr. Babayo Liman, on Sunday, said the NNPP and its presidential candidate, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, lacked the structure and capacity to rule Nigeria.

Liman who disclosed this in Jalingo, Taraba State, while addressing his supporters at a press conference, said he defected to the Peoples Democratic Party to help Atiku Abubakar win the February 25 presidential election.

“The NNPP lacks the structure to win elections. I have seen PDP as a vehicle to deliver Nigeria from the numerous challenges facing citizens. The PDP and Atiku have a structure that can win elections.

“Atiku was part of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government that recorded numerous achievements. For instance, during the PDP administration, insecurity was only in three states, now it’s everywhere. Poverty was not this much, that’s why I am following Atiku.

“Kwankwaso has proven that he can’t address the needs and yearnings of Nigerians. If he cannot handle the internal crisis in the NNPP with only 30 executives, how can he handle Nigeria with over 200 million people?

“Even among the executives, only four of us were active, the remaining members were ghosts and we never saw them, so how can such a party win elections?” he queried.

The former NNPP chieftain said as part of traditions, it was necessary for him to inform his supporters of his defection and his next move.

When asked about when he discovered that the NNPP and Kwankwaso were not the solutions to Nigeria, Liman said Kwankwaso lured them into the NNPP because of their popularity and support base in the region, but his inability to solve internal issues of the party was a clear indication that he was not ready to rule Nigeria.

The Punch

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