Sunday, November 16, 2014 5:58 pm
Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom state government has set up a family court to tackle the increasing cases of child witchcraft.
Justice Theresa Obot of the Akwa Ibom State High Court, said the court was created after a commission of enquiry set up to investigate allegations of child witchcraft concluded its assignment.
According to her, the court is set up to prosecute cases and allegations of child witchcraft in the state.
The Commission of Enquiry was set up in Nov. 2010, following the rampant stigmatisation of children in the state for alleged witchcraft.
“We in the judiciary lay so much emphasis on the child witchcraft stigmatisation and the courts now make it a point of duty to address those issues. So when such cases come in, we try not to limit ourselves to only the punishment of alleged child witch, but also to provide counselling.
“Because in a family court, when a child and the parents have problems, we offer reconciliation,’’ Obot said.
She said, “anybody who says a child is a witch or wizard, he or she will be prosecuted, after which they will also receive counselling. So, that has helped to reduce incidences of child witchcraft in Akwa Ibom state.’’
“We are not saying that it is over, but so far the incidence has been reduced to the barest minimum.’’
Obot said the courts also recommend counselling for parents who stigmatised their children after they had been punished.
She noted that the state government was doing everything humanly possible to put an end to the issue by organising annual seminars on child rights laws and other related issues.
Obot spoke to NAN in Abuja.