FATHER, SON IN COURT OVER WITCHCRAFT
MICHAEL Effiong, 38 years old, from Odoronkit in Esit Eket Local Council of Akwa Ibom State, on Monday appeared before the Esit Eket Magistrate's Court charged with torturing and accusing his seven-year-old son of witchcraft.
The accused, a wood sawyer, was arraigned before Magistrate Esther Etukudo by the Police Prosecutor, Ukpabio Samuel.
Ukpabio told the court that the suspect was arrested following a petition by two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Child Rights Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) and Young Humanists Network (YHN).
The accused allegedly abandoned his child, who was reconciled with him after spending three years at a centre for abandoned children.
Effiong, who pleaded guilty to the charges of child-witch accusation, child abandonment and abuse, was remanded in prison custody by the magistrate.
The magistrate also blamed the accused for cruelty to an innocent child in contravention of the Child Rights Act of the Akwa Ibom government.
She further commended the NGOs for providing care for children ostracized by the society or parents on accusation of witchcraft.
Speaking with journalists, an official of the NGOs, Ayobami Ojedokun, pledged to collaborate with the police in prosecuting parents who contravene the law, noting that such would help check the high prevalence of child-witch stigmatization in the area.
The accused is to remain in prison custody till March 23, pending when the case would be transferred to the Family Court set up to try cases related to child abuse.