A 44-year-old woman and her 12-year-old niece were dragged to the village town hall for questioning over allegations of witchcraft and the death of a 5-year-old girl. They were almost killed.
The woman who has been identified as Ms. Mercy Ekwere from Edo Esit Eket was lured to the town hall by two delegates, who told her she was needed at the town hall by the village chief, on matters relating to family disputes. Upon her arrival, she was seized by the crowd that had already gathered as they hurled insults at her. She was then tied up, beaten with sticks and machetes to a state of coma, before she was rescued by Policemen.
It was also alleged that during the course of the torture, the 12-year-old girl confessed that her aunt took the child to their coven, where she strangled her to death.
Narrating the incident, Ms. Mercy said;
“I was shocked to see a big crowd who started calling me uncanny names, spat and threw stones at me. They did not allow me to say anything. A group of young men with sticks and rod gathered around me and began to hit me… I begged them to stop but my plea fell on deaf ears”.
“They were asking me different questions. ‘Why did you kill that small child?’ ‘Who’re your colleagues in the coven?’ How many people have you tied in the witch coven?’ They brought the corpse of a little child and place on my body and asked me to resurrect her. They put the dead child in a small open container, bathed and gave me the water to drink. Meaning that, if I was responsible for the child’s death, I would also die soon.
“In spite of that, they continued to beat me. A man came with a big stick and hit my head, the whole place became dark and I fainted. Policemen, invited by my brother Emmanuel Ekwere, to rescue his child who was making the false confession came and woke me up. I did not see those who were beating me again. I got a bike and returned to my husband, but he told me to leave his house as he has no room for witches…”.
She also disclosed that her 5-year-old son from her late ex-husband was taken from her when she returned home, while her husband kept their 11-months-old baby (the only child from their relationship).
She was then sent packing from her home, and has been sleeping in a small local market with open shades.
However, she was also attacked at the market by three men who were among those who wanted to kill her.
She escaped and ran into a bush with her son and then found her way to the CRARN Children Centre in Ikot Afaha, Eket, where she has been given a temporary refuge as there’s no sanctuary in Nigeria for such older people stigmatized as witches or brutalized and rendered homeless in the name of witchcraft.