While the government of Akwa Ibom State is battling tooth and nail to nip the branding of children as witches in the bud, another of such cases has reared its ugly head when a 10-year-old boy, Usen Okon, was reportedly thrown into a river in Ikot Abasi local government area of the state, over witchcraft accusation.
Though the poor boy survived the ordeal, the pathetic thing is that the dastardly act was carried out by his family members who decided to kill the boy for bringing untold calamities into the family.
According to reports, a non-government organisation, the Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement and its partner, Child’s Rights and Rehabilitation Network, has intervened and has taken the child into its custody and is taking care of him.
The Senior Project Manager of the organisation, Mr. Ayobami Ojedokun, narrates that Usen was under the care of his paternal aunt, identified simply as Ekaeyen, at Etebi community in the Esit Eket local government area of the state after the death of his parents.
"A few days ago, the boy was aroused from sleep by the aunt who took him to her husband and asked him to confess to being a wizard."
He added that when Okon denied the witchcraft accusation, his aunt threatened to throw him into a river.
And true to her words, the aunt and his uncle carried out the threat on November 16, 2014, tied the poor boy up and took him to the Imo River that runs across the community and threw him into the water with the hope that he would drown.
"She actually threw Okon into Imo River thinking that the boy would drown. The boy came out of the water alive and went to their home, only to be told that his aunt had relocated."
The Project Director of the NGO, Mr. Adeyemi Johnson, stated that his organisation has reunited 16 children to their families from January to November, and referred two children to Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Women Affairs, while also rescuing 17 children from January till date, with 15 children in its care at the centre.