London: Akpabio Carpets Ak Child witchcraft alarm
The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio has debunked the reports of child abuse associated with witchcraft in his state as a great exaggeration of isolated cases.
Governor Godswill Akpabio spoke on CNN after the channel aired a documentary of children abused by parent and guardian and accused of witchcraft and evil spirit.
Governor Akpabio said the incidence of witchcraft-related abuse in the state , is a very, very minimal situation and since he came into power as the governor he has taken great step to rectify the problem such as signing a bill into law in 2008 that makes it a criminal offense, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, to label a child a witch. He added that this has “brought the situation immediately under control."
Governor Akpabio said so far nobody has been convicted of witchcraft-related abuse under the new law but that five people have been charged and are making their ways through the legal process.
The governor said the real problem in his state is not witchcraft, but poverty and his government has established centers for orphaned children, cast out either because they are accused of practicing magic or because their families are too poor to care for them.
The governor attacked a report sent to the United Nations from Stepping Stones Nigeria, a group that claims to work with local street children. The study uncovered evidence of a large number of children in Akwa Ibom accused of witchcraft being taken to forests and killed, washed in acid, burned and buried alive.
"That report is part of the media propaganda against the state and it was done for pecuniary reasons," said Akpabio.
He also cast doubt on whether various reports, made by the media and nongovernmental organizations, were using different children to tell their stories.
"I need to know why the same set of children are being shown all over the world with the same story," he said. "These children are being used for monetary reasons," Akpabio said.
The governor said he does not believe in witchcraft and added that he took such accusations seriously.
"There is no government alive that would see children burned alive and killed without taking action," Akpabio said