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50 witnesses testify before child witchcraft panel in Akwa Ibom

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Uyo, Feb. 17, 2011 (NAN) No fewer than 50 witnesses have so far testified before the Akwa Ibom Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft and Child Abuse sitting in Uyo.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that since the commission commenced sittings, it had summoned organisations and individuals who were either mentioned in memoranda submitted or had authored such memoranda.

The commission had also invited members of the public to send written and oral submissions that would assist it in ascertaining the veracity of claims about the child-witch syndrome in the state.

Headed by Justice Godwin Abraham, the six-member commission was sworn-in by Gov. Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom on Nov. 22, 2010 and commenced sitting in January.

The commission, with members made up of medical experts, lawyers, clerics and educationists, was charged with recommending measures that would protect children from being stigmatised as witches and wizards.

Four witnesses from Effoi community in Eket, where residents suspected to be witches were allegedly killed at the village square, testified before the panel on Thursday.

The panel had earlier issued a writ of summons to compel the Village Head of Effoi, Chief David Ukpo, to clarify claims in a memorandum submitted to it by Child Rights Rehabilitation Network.

The group is an NGO offering shelter to abandoned children.

The commission had since adjourned its sitting to Feb. 21.

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