AfAW Warns Against Closing Down Witch Camps In Ghana
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW) has urged state actors in Ghana to desist from playing politics with refuge centres for alleged witches, otherwise known as witch camps.
AfAW is making this appeal following a declaration by a local politician Kennedy Agyapong from the New Patriotic Party. Mr. Agyapong noted that he would close down the witch camp if he were elected the president of Ghana.
He said: “Give me two weeks when I become a President, I will go to Yendi and close down all those witch camps. People capitalize on that to beat old women or force young children to admit that they are witches when they are not”.
In a statement by Dr. Leo Igwe on behalf of AfAW, the group reacted to this : “This statement demonstrates crass ignorance of the problem of witch persecution in Ghana. AfAW agrees with Mr. Agyapong that witchcraft accusation is unjustified and provides a pretext to abuse and violate the aging population. Witchcraft suspicion has been used to get children to confess to unimaginable crimes. However, the solution to the problem is not to close down these havens for victims.
READ ALSO: AfAW Lauds Church Of Scotland For Acknowledging Harm Linked To Witchcraft Accusations
In addition, Agyapong attributed pervasive cases of witchcraft accusations in Ghana to poverty. He said: ‘Are you dumb? What is witchcraft? It’s just poverty. Let’s build the people up and stop these kinds of witchcraft camps. It’s insane’.
“Again, Agyapong is on point. Witchcraft accusations are rooted in poverty and destitution. Victims of witch persecution are usually poor members of society. Those who populate the witch camps are persons in weak socio-cultural positions; they lack the means and mechanisms to fend for and defend themselves. Now the question is: How is shutting down these camps the answer to poverty in the region? Will forcing those camping in these places to return to their communities end economic difficulties in Ghana? In recent years, there have been attempts by the government of Ghana to disband the witch camps in the northern region. These attempts have not yielded any positive results.
“AfAW is of the position that the move by politicians in Ghana to close down the witch camps is mistaken. Witch camps are only a symptom, not a disease. Witch camps are a consequence of a more vicious phenomenon, witchcraft accusations. Politicians in Ghana should devote their energies and resources to tackling the social disease, and the main problem, which is, witchcraft accusations, not the witch camps in the communities.
“State actors should take measures to address witchcraft fears and anxieties that drive and motivate witchcraft accusations and witch persecutions. They should not close down the witch camps. If witchcraft accusations stop and people no longer take action based on witchcraft fears; if nobody is suspected or tackled for being witches in the communities, people would not flee to these places. These camps will disappear. These refuge spaces would cease to exist.
“At the moment, witch persecutions rage in the communities. Witchcraft accusation is a form of a death sentence across the country. Ghana needs these witch camps to contain this problem, and tame this wild phenomenon. Those who take refuge at these make-shift shelters are victims. They are persons fleeing persecution, mob attacks, violence, and threats to their lives. Shutting down these safe havens constitutes double victimization of these innocent persons. State actors should refrain from toying with the lives of these vulnerable members of the population. Instead, they should play a politics that guarantees, not jeopardizes, the safety, humanity, and dignity of alleged witches in Ghana.”
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BREAKING: PDP Chairman Beaten To Coma Dies
Peter Nweke, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman in Ezza North local government area, beaten to coma, is dead.
Nweke died from injuries he sustained from attacks by hoodlums suspected to be political thugs on Saturday during the Governorship and Assembly elections.
Police spokesperson, Onome Onovwakpoyeya confirmed the death of Nweke on Sunday.
She said Nweke was beaten up and rushed to the hospital unconscious where he was later pronounced dead by a doctor.
The police officer said the police had launched an investigation into the death with a view to arresting and prosecuting anyone responsible.
Nweke’s younger brother, Samson Nweke also confirmed the death.
BREAKING:Court Orders INEC to Paste, Transmit Results Electronically
Hours before the Saturday’s governorship and state House of Assembly elections, a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to electronically transmit the results of the polls in accordance with its regulations and guidelines.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu, in a judgment, also ordered the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to upload a scanned copy of the EC8A to INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) immediately after the completion of all the polling units voting and results’ procedures in Akwa Ibom.
The judge further directed the commission to conspicuously paste the publication of its result posters EC60(E) at polling units after completing the EC8A result sheets in the state.
He equally ordered INEC to enforce the observance and compliance of Section 27(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 in the distribution of electoral materials during the conduct of the polls in the state by engaging the services of independent, competent, and reliable logistic companies who are non-partisans or known supporters of any political for the distribution of electoral materials and personnel.
Egwuatu held that since the electoral umpire averred in its filed affidavit that it was aware of its responsibilities under the law and had not failed to carry them out, granting the prayers sought by the applicants would not do any harm to the commission but instead, energise its performance.
He gave the judgment following a suit filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom, Uduakobong Udoh, including 13 state’s House of Assembly candidates for the March 18 elections.
Recall that the applicants, in the originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/334/2023 dated and filed on March 15 by their lawyer, Moses Usoh-Abia, had sued INEC as sole defendant.
The applicants, who sought seven reliefs, prayed the court for an order of mandamus compelling INEC and all its agents to comply with and enforce the provision of Clause 37 of the Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of the Saturday’s governorship and house of assembly elections in Akwa Ibom.
They also prayed the court to mandate the presiding officers of all polling units to conspicuously paste the publication of result posters EC460(E) at the polling units after completing the EC8A result sheets.
They sought an order of mandamus compelling the commission to mandate the presiding officers of all polling units in the state to electronically transmit or transfer the result of the polling units, direct to the collation system and use the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to upload a scanned copy of the EC8A to INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) immediately after the completion of all the polling units voting and results procedures.
They said this was in compliance with the provision of Clause 38 of the guidelines for the conduct of the polls.
The applicants equally prayed for an order directing INEC to enforce the observance and compliance of Section 27(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 in the distribution of electoral materials during the conduct of the polls by engaging the services of independent, competent, and reliable logistic companies who are non-partisans or known supporters of any political for the distribution of electoral materials and personnel, among other reliefs.
Justice Egwuatu had, on Wednesday, granted leave to the applicants to proceed with a judicial review, filed requisite motion and put INEC on notice, following an ex-parte motion moved by Usoh-Abia.
Upon resumed hearing on the matter on Friday, Usoh-Abia said that he had complied with the earlier court order and that their motion was served on INEC on Wednesday.
The lawyer said despite the service of their process, the commission was not represented in court.
The judge, however, said that he noticed INEC:s counter affidavit and a preliminary objection to their originating summons in the court file.
He said the application was filed on Thursday.
Responding, Usoh-Abia said though they were yet to be served by the commission, he was ready to proceed with the matter due to the urgency of the case.
He said the motion, dated March 15, had 26-paragrph affidavit with nine exhibits.
The lawyer urged the court to direct the electoral umpire to comply with its regulations and guidelines of Clauses 37 and 38 on the conduct of the elections.
He said the order was necessary because the commission, in the Feb. 25 Presidential and National Assembly polls, failed to transmit results of the elections in the state and across the country.
He argued that INEC created the regulations and guidelines pursuant to Section 148 and 60(5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 to guide the conduct of elections and collating of election result among others.
Usoh-Abia said INEC’s refusal to comply with the law had resulted in serious prejudice; and had foisted uncertainty and frustration on his clients at their various polling units and wards.
The lawyer said if the order was not granted, the same scenario would repeat itself in the Saturday’s poll.
But INEC, in its preliminary objection, said the suit was incompetent and the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain it.
The commission argued that the applicants had not established a justifiable action against it.
It also said that the applicants acted in contravention of the practice direction by commencing the suit via originating summons.
Delivering judgment, Justice Egwuatu said he was satisfied that the applicants had complied with the practice direction rules in the filing of their application.
He also said that he was satisfied that a cause of action had been established against INEC in the paragraphs of the applicants’ process.
The judge, therefore, ordered INEC to direct all its presiding officers to comply with Clauses 37 and 38 of its regulations and guidelines for the conduct of tomorrow’s election in Akwa Ibom.
He held that the commission had the legal duty to act in accordance with the law.
The judge, however, refused to grant other reliefs.
Govt Postpones 2023 Census
The 2023 population and housing census earlier scheduled for 29 March has been shifted to May.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed when he briefed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja.
Mohammed said that the decision to shift the census was necessitated by the postponement of the gubernatorial and state assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from 11 March to 18 March.
He also disclosed that the council approved N2.8 billion for the National Population Commission (NPC) to procure some software to be used for the conduct of the census.
“There was a memo presented by the National Population Commission, seeking some software to allow them to conduct the census in May this year.
”I believe because of the rescheduling of the elections, they cannot commence the census as scheduled.
“They sought council’s approval for a contract to procure software for the census at the sum of N2.8 billion,” he said.
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