Governor Godswill Akpabio has made good his earlier pledge to go after proprietors of orphanages for children in Akwa Ibom State accused of witchcraft. His invasion and forceful evacuation of some 200 inmates of Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) continued yesterday.
SaharaReporters recalls that Akpabio had threatened that “heads will roll” when he ordered the arrest of Sam Ikpe-Itauma and Gary Foxcroft following a news report by US-based Cable News Network (CNN) on the child witch syndrome in Akwa Ibom.
Yesterday, Mr. Wisdom Udoka, who has spearheaded the onslaught on the private homes, is reported to have used a machete he pulled out from his vehicle to force the children to comply with the evaciatopm order. Udoka claimed that failure to obtain the consent of the children should not stand in the way of the orders given by Akpabio that the orphanage should be closed down immediately.
At the CRARN site, Udoka forcefully abducted about 29 children, bringing the total number so far evacuated to 127. Mr. Udoka had earlier carried out raids accompanied by Atta Ikkideh, a UK based propagandist believed to be fronting for the governor. Traumatized by the latest naked display of force, some of the children ran into adjourning bushes to escape being abducted by Udoka.
The abducted children are being camped at the newly constructed “Security Village” in Uyo. The site was originally constructed to house council chairmen and political office holders in the state’s 31 LGAs.
Apparently in a hurry to execute his agenda against child rights activists that are perceived to have embarrassed Akpabio by drawing attention to the child witch issue, the governor seems unwilling to wait for the report and recommendations of a panel he set up in 2010 to look into the witchcraft allegations and child abuses in Akwa Ibom. That panel visited the United Kingdom two weeks ago.
Stepping Stones Nigeria Child Empowerment Foundation, another NGO affiliated with Stepping Stones UK, producers of the controversial TV documentary, suffered a similar attack from the Akwa Ibom government last week when some children being supported by the NGO were seized and taken to the security village.