I received an email from Leo Igwe, whom I met at The Amazing Meeting last week. He tells an incredible, almost unbelievable story of persecution of “witches” in Nigeria. He shares news of an extremely disturbing event coming up this week:
On July 27, a local Pentecostal church is planning a ‘crusade’ at the Cultural Centre in Calabar in Cross River State. The theme of the event is: Koboko Night: My Father My Father That Witch Must Die.The same church has, in March, organized a similar event in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.
Akwa Ibom is another state where witch belief is strong and witchcraft related abuse is common and widespread. The activities of churches and prayer houses have been linked to the problem of witch hunting in the region.
Once again I want to draw the attention of the authorities to the activities of this church and other churches in the region that are fueling witch hunting in the name of spreading the gospel.[..]the theme of this crusade is literally inciting, and could lead to an upsurge of witch persecution and killings in the region. The title Koboko Night implies torture and abuse of any alleged witch. This could cause some people to go home and start beating up their children or aging parents whom they suspect of witchcraft.
And then adding ‘That witch must die’ makes it more horrifying. It clearly sanctions death and execution of any alleged witch. This clause alone can cause people to murder or commit atrocious acts against family or community members whom they believe are witches.
Leo is very clear on what is needed, the church authorities must repudiate these activities:
The governments of Cross River and Akwa Ibom should act swiftly and bring to justice all witch hunting pastors, god men and women in these states. They should prohibit all church programs that incite hatred and violence in the name of witchcraft.
Leo is passionate about bringing news of these horrifying witch hunts to the western world. It is hard for us sitting here in our modern world to imagine that this persecution goes on elsewhere. It must be stopped.
Here’s the twist: Witchcraft accusation is a crime under the law. Inciting hatred and violence in the name of witchcraft is also a criminal offense. The law is clear, he says, yet it is not enforced as it should be. The more this information gets out, the more pressure it will place on the world community to act against it.