A10-year-old boy, Usen Okon, who was thrown into the Imo River in the Ikot Abasi area of Akwa Ibom State, over witchcraft accusation, has survived the ordeal. A non-government organisation, the Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement and its partner, Child’s Rights and Rehabilitation Network, said the boy was being taken care of by the groups.
The Senior Project Manager of the organisation, Mr. Ayobami Ojedokun, told our correspondent in Uyo on Tuesday that Okon was under the care of his paternal aunt, identified simply as Ekaeyen, at Etebi community in the Esit Eket Local Government Area of the state as his parents had died.
He said a few days ago, Okon was aroused from sleep by Ekaeyen who took him to her husband and asked him to confess to being a wizard. He added that when Okon denied the witchcraft accusation, his aunt threatened to throw him into a river.
Ojedokun said Ekaeyen, true to her words, on November 16, took Okon to the Imo River and threw him into the water with the hope that he would drown. “She actually threw Okon into Imo River thinking that the boy would drown. The boy came out of the water alive and went to their home, only to be told that her auntie had relocated,” Ojedokun said.
The Project Director, Mr. Adeyemi Johnson, added that HAPSTA/CRARN have reunited 16 children to their families from January to November, and referred two children to Ministry of Women Affairs. He added that HAPSTA/CRARN had also rescued 17 children from January till date, while the organisation had 15 children in its centre.
“We also organise advocacy town hall meetings in Okobo, Ebughu and Etinan, where child witches stigmatisation are commonplace. We brought pastors and child rights activists together through a meeting at Ikot Abasi,” he said. The acting Police Public Relations Officer, Akwa Ibom State Police Command, Mr. Iboro Victor, said he was not aware of the incident. “The incident is not to my knowledge right now,” he said.
November 26, 2014 by Etim Ekpimah