By Marie-Therese Nanlong

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC in Plateau State has waded into the case of two children who were accused of witchcraft and set ablaze by yet to be apprehended persons at Waduruk community, Shen village in Jos South local government area of the State.

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The Commission which has urged the Police to do the needful to arrest the culprits; frowned at the act of branding people and accusing them of witchcraft, stressing that child abuse of such a grievous nature cannot be overlooked.

Principal Legal Officer, National Human Rights Commission, Kachollom Tachio who is handling the case told newsmen in Jos that the victims, God’sgift Nyam (11 years old) and Mary Gyang (about five years old) were branded as a wizard and a witch and Mary’s biological father and others decided to set the victims ablaze.

She noted the traumatized children’s rights were abused hence the need to get justice for them as according to her, “On the 16th of December, 2019, we received complaints from one Rita Nyam who is a younger sister to one of the victims’ mother.

“She complained on behalf of the mother and the victims and stated that on the 8th of December, 2019, two children named God’sgift Nyam, 11years old and Mary Gyang, almost 5years old were branded as a wizard and a witch and taken to a compound in the community where they were burnt.

“The father to Mary and three other culprits fetched petrol from a motorcycle, poured on the children and set them on fire. Members of the community raised alarm and the mother to God’sgift was alerted. She ran to that compound and saw the children screaming in pain.

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“The children were badly injured at that time; completely bandaged, the burns affected their heads, their face areas; God’sgift couldn’t see because his eyes were closed. Mary’s hands were burnt; she still has bandages because one of the hands is still badly injured

“The Commission frowns at such act, branding people and accusing them of witchcraft, child abuse of such a grievous nature cannot be overlooked.”

Vanguard gathered that the children were so accused when a member of the community identified as Useni Sunday fell ill and a certain girl, Veirat allegedly confessed to initiating other children in the community and recruiting them to inflict pains on Useni who died some weeks back.

Parents to God’sgift who admitted the said girl mentioned their son as one of those initiated, maintained they have no idea if the boy is a wizard or not.

According to the mother, “On that day, we were all at home but I later went out; as I was coming back, I saw Mary’s father going with the children. One of the children ran to me and told me that mummy, they are taking us to the hospital so that we should go and untie Useni that is sick.

“I asked the child, do you know anything about the sickness, he said no, that he does not go for the witchcraft meeting, not quite long, he came back and called their younger sister, she ran back and said mummy, they are back, they have already burnt them.

“I quickly ran to the house, I met them there, they were set on fire and some people were they trying to quench the fire. On Monday morning; we went to the police station to report before going to the hospital. We were in the hospital when the police went to the village to arrest the people but they didn’t let the police arrest anyone.

“I have not seen any behaviour in him that will make me suspect he is a wizard but I allowed him to go with them because one girl in the compound confessed to being a witch and she mentioned his name that he is among. I asked the boy he said, yes he was with them before but he left them, this thing is not up to two weeks that she said she initiated them before it was revealed.”

The victim, God’sgift, a primary five pupil said, “I have some friends in the compound and in the school that I play with; some of them are Sele, Aaron. Mary is not in our school, we are in the same house. I have heard people say that I am a wizard, it is Veirat that initiated us but I don’t go anywhere with them. I was burnt because I am in a secret group, I was there before but I am no more there.”

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However, the State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Mathias Tyopev explained the efforts being made to apprehend the fleeing suspects saying, “We are yet to arrest the suspects, they are on the run, we have five suspects, the father of the children, the Mai Angwa (Ward Head), the pastor and two other youths. We are sure of getting them soon.”


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