15 February 2011

Nigeria: Witchcraft - Panel Chides Ministry Over Poor Welfare of Victims

Uyo — The Judicial Panel established by the Akwa Ibom Government to investigate the alleged instances of witchcraft and child abuse has berated the State Ministry of Women Affairs for poor welfare of abandoned children.

Justice Abraham, Chairman of the panel, told off the officials of the ministry who appeared before the commission to testify before it on Tuesday.

Abraham said the ministry performed below the expectation of government and citizens and urged its officials to sit up and face the challenges of protecting Akwa Ibom children.

He said that it was unacceptable that the ministry staff did not follow up cases of vulnerable children referred to it for custody, adding that there was no funding plan for children in its custody in various centres across the state.

In her testimony, Mrs Veronica Okon, a Director in the ministry, told the panel that there were 171 children in the custody of the ministry in three centres in Akwa Ibom.

She said that 12 cases of child witch stigmatisation were currently being investigated by the ministry. According to Okon, eight persons had been prosecuted for stigmatising children they alleged were witches. She said that the child witch syndrome was a challenge to the ministry. The panel was sworn in by Gov. Godswill Akpabio on Nov. 22, 2010. NAN

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