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Martina’s Murder For Witchcraft Shames Us All – AfWA



Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr. Leo Igwe

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfWA) has condemned the brutal murder of Mrs. Martina, locally known as Aki Iyak, for witchcraft on Saturday, June 24, 2023.

According to AfWA, the tragic incident happened in a community, Old Netim, in Cross River State in Southern Nigeria.

According to Dr.Leo Igwe who directs the AfWA which aims to end witchcraft accusations and witch persecutions in Africa, local sources told AfAW that Martina was accused following an accident on June 13. Two young men, Ojong Ogar and Asikpi Ogar, died as a result of the accident. Following the incident, some youths accused Martina of witchcraft. She tried to flee the community and went and took refuge at her daughter’s house. But the mob went there; they seized and tortured her to confess to being responsible for the accident. They cut her into pieces and burnt the remains. The police tried to intervene, but the mob resisted the police. The police turned back.

The group said: “AfAW is making efforts to reach relatives of victims, and to support them at this time. Witchcraft accusations and witch persecutions are pervasive in Cross River state. People tend to blame their misfortunes, including poverty, accidents, illness, and death on occult forces. They consult local diviners, and self-acclaimed prophets and prophetesses who certify magical causations and their perpetrators. As in the case of Martina, accusers mete out jungle justice to alleged witches. They torture the accused to death and burn their corpses. Police interventions come too little too late, that is, if the police intervene at all. This pattern of response has been ineffective and unhelpful. This mode of addressing cases of witchcraft accusations and witch persecution has persisted.

“AfAW calls for a change in approach, and the way that authorities respond to cases of witch persecution in the region. First, in communities, like Old Netim, where witchcraft beliefs are strong, and witch hunting frequently occurs, state authorities should be more present. They should be ready to intervene at the shortest notice. State authorities should liaise with community leaders and put in place early warning and monitoring facilities, especially when tragedies such as sudden deaths, accidents, or protracted illnesses occur. In the case of Martina, the community leaders of Old Netim, or the clan head, Ntufam Richard Njong Orok, should have alerted the police on time. They should have informed the police before the tension escalated.

“The police and community leaders should have taken measures to nip the situation in the bud. They should have called a meeting when the accident occurred and urged against witchcraft allegations and witch-hunting. The community leaders should have acted and dispelled the rumors before they turned into violent actions. The clan head should have helped relocate the accused. He should have supported her to flee to a part of the area where it would be difficult for her accusers to reach or harm her. Witchcraft accusation is a matter of life and death. State and community leaders should take urgent steps to protect the accused and prevent horrific abuse, torture and murder of the innocent in the name of witchcraft.”

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Canada’s Dallaire Institute Invites Nigerian Security Personnel For Elite Child Protection Training



Dr.Shelley Whitman

The Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security, a global leader in preventing the recruitment and use of children in armed violence, has invited two members of Nigeria’s security forces to participate in its first regional lead trainers course on child protection. The course will run from September 25 to 29, 2023.

Maj. Edwin Okpala (rtd), a chartered mediator, and a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration expert at the Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre, and Capt. Grace Watirahyel Samuel, will join other members of the armed forces, police, and civil society groups from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Sudan, and Uganda for five days of theoretical training and scenario – based simulation in Rwanda.

Organized through the Dallaire Institute’s Africa Centre of Excellence, the course, which is specifically for previously trained facilitators, will be delivered by lead facilitator Maj. Musa Donald Gbow, the first-ever child protection advisor in an African Union peacekeeping mission and a master trainer for the Dallaire Institute.

In a statement, the Executive Director of the Dallaire Institute, Dr Shelly Whitman disclosed that the course will bring participants up to speed on best practices in preventing the recruitment and use of children, while enhancing their ability to independently lead Dallaire Institute courses across the continent.

“The Dallaire Institute believes in the importance of collaboration that leads to long-term systemic change to place children at the heart of peace and security. The lead trainers’ course will bring together our champions for change from military and police institutions across the African continent, so they can support and learn from each other on how to prevent the recruitment and use of children and we as the Dallaire Institute can continue to learn from their lived experiences to ensure our approaches are effective”, Whitman noted.

The Dallaire Institute has worked with the Nigerian military, police, and civil society groups since 2017. In 2021, as part of collaborative efforts, it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Martin Luther Agwai Leadership and International Peacekeeping Centre (MLALIPKC) and the African Peace Support Training Association (APSTA) to support capacity building activities.

Founded by renowned humanitarian and former Canadian Forces Lieutenant General, Roméo Dallaire, the Dallaire Institute was created with the unique premise that preventing violence against children requires a dual lens that is focused on prioritizing the protection of children, as well as understanding the significant operational impacts upon security sector actors.

As co-developers and custodians of The Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers, the institute’s stakeholders advise governments and multilateral partners on integrating the principles into security sector governance.

The Institute also hosts a prestigious Tier 1 Canada Research Chair on International Peace, Security and Children and offers undergraduate and graduate courses that will lead to the creation of a certificate program on children, peace and security. Through academic and practitioner training, and community engagement, the Dallaire Institute’s interdisciplinary and applied research advances innovative strategies for preventing the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts and violence. The Dallaire Institute is supported through private, public, and international contributions.

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Security Operatives Crack Down On Sagamu Cultists, House of Assembly Member, Six Others In DSS Net



Acting IGP Kayode Egbetokun

Security operatives in Ogun State on Wednesday tracked six suspected cultists, allegedly involved in the violence that erupted in Sagamu at the weekend to the official residence of a member of the state House of Assembly.

The member, representing Sagamu State Constituency (1), Hon. Damilare Bello Mohammed, was alleged to have provided shelter to the fleeing cultists.

A team of security operatives, in a sting operation after a tip-off, arrested the suspects on the premises of the lawmaker.

Those arrested, according to sources, include Damilare Bello Mohammed aka DRE, Debbo Animashaun, Bamidele Saheed, Ismaila Onitire, Adewale Otesanya and Tobi Owoade.

They are currently undergoing interrogation at the Department of State Service (DSS).

Sources revealed that many dangerous weapons, including guns, were recovered from the suspects.

It would be recalled that Hon. Bello was arrested by the DSS for masterminding the violent protest that took place in February this year in Sagamu over the naira redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

During the protest, irate youths vandalised about 10 banks and other public infrastructures.

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Ogun Considers Special Court To Try Cultists



Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun

A Special Court is to be established by the Ogun State Government to try cult-related cases.

Also to be set up is a Joint Anti-Cultism Security Task Force comprising all major security outfits, with the mandate to rid the state of the menace of cultism.

The state is also proposing an amnesty programme for would-be cultists who may wish to surrender their weapons.

These decisions were arrived at after a joint security meeting, held at the Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State on Wednesday.

It would be recalled that Governor Dapo Abiodun on Tuesday hinted that his administration would enact a law that would pronounce the death penalty on anyone caught engaging in cult activities in the state.

The governor spoke during a visit to the palace of the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, following days of cult-related clashes in Sagamu, which left many dead and others injured.

The meeting, according to Governor Abiodun, focused on providing adequate measures to eradicate cultism in the Gateway State.

Prince Abiodun said: “During the Joint Security meeting that took place today (Wednesday), we engaged in fruitful discussions regarding the implementation of measures aimed at combating cultism in Ogun State.

“Our primary focus was on establishing a special court, forming a joint operational force comprising various security agencies, and implementing a death penalty for cultism offences.

“In addition to these measures, we also deliberated on the possibility of introducing a period of amnesty. This would allow individuals who wish to surrender their weapons and renounce their affiliation with any cult-related groups and activities the opportunity to do so without fear of prosecution.

“As an administration deeply committed to fostering a peaceful and violence-free society, we are dedicated to providing the Special Court and Joint Anti-Cultism Security Task Force with the necessary logistics and tools to support their operations effectively.

“The overall objective of our conversation is to address the issue of cultism through a multifaceted approach. This will include legal and enforcement measures, rehabilitation efforts, and community engagement through our respected traditional leaders.

“In conclusion, we are determined to tackle the menace of cultism in our state head-on. By employing a combination of legal frameworks, law enforcement strategies, rehabilitation initiatives, and community involvement, we believe we can bring about lasting change.”

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