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Groups seek justice for five persons murdered over allegation of witchcraft in Cross River

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A coalition of human rights groups has appealed to the International community, the Federal and Cross River State Governments to ensure that those who murdered five innocent people (three women and two men), accused of witchcraft, are punished in line with the law.

A statement by the Chairman of Trustees of Safe Child Africa, Mr. Gary Foxcroft, said the tragic followed a motorcycle accident that took place on the evening of October 13, in Ndon Nwong community of Odukpani Local Council of Cross River State.

He said two children were tortured to confess that they were behind the accident. They also identified five suspected “witches” that were with them in the act.

The youths of the community, according to the statement, took the five suspected witches to the village square where they were tried by a kangaroo court made up of local chiefs and youth leaders; tied up, tortured, and eventually beaten to death.

One of the victims, identified as a widow, Mrs. Iquo Edet Eyo, after telling the youth that she was not a witch, was beaten with machetes, sticks, and cudgels.

She was also allegedly sexually assaulted, cut along her stomach, hand, and with multiple blows to her head.

“The five victims were subsequently dragged by these youths and so-called village leaders into the forest away from the growing crowd of village folks and on-lookers, where the final executions reportedly took place, and their bodies dumped in a shallow grave. As of October 23, arrests were yet to be made and the bodies yet to be exhumed by the authorities for autopsy and proper burial.

“It is extremely disheartening to see that, despite our best efforts, governments are still failing to protect the most vulnerable members of society from such horrific acts. Mrs. Iquo Eyo was a grandmother, mother, sister and friend to many in her community. She was not a witch.

“The Federal Government and Cross River State Government need to do more to ensure that their names are not further tarnished by the ongoing killings of people due to erroneous beliefs in witchcraft. This should include arresting those behind such crimes and regulating those faith leaders who promote the malevolent beliefs that drive such evil acts,” Foxcroft said in the statement.

Also, Mrs. Eyo’s United States of America- based son-in-law, Marshall Umanah, a student doctor, has called for justice, saying, “It is incomprehensible that innocent people are still being accused of witchcraft and killed in the 21st century. My dear mother-in-law would not hurt a fly and was certainly not a witch.

“I call upon the international community to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to ensure that her death is not in vain and those behind this heinous act are arrested and prosecuted immediately.”

A human rights activis Mr. James Ibor said: “We have dubbed those innocent people killed in this attack “Another Calabar 5” as sadly, this is just one of many similar cases that the Basic Rights Counsel has worked on over the last ten years. The Nigeria Police Force, lawyers, and judiciary need to redouble their efforts to ensure that justice is served in such cases.”

Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW), led by Dr Leo Igwe as the Director, has also queried religious bodies, especially Pentecostal churches put raising unnecessary dusts against suspected witches and wizards.

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