By Biodun Busari
Human rights activist, Dr Leo Igwe has called on some pastors who indulge in creating fear, violence and hatred among families through witchcraft and exorcism sermons to desist from such acts henceforth.
Igwe made this assertion on Tuesday in a statement titled, ‘Witch-hunting churches and pastors in 21st century Nigeria.’
The humanist, also alleged that Christian clergy in the country organise “crusades to validate and sanctify abuses and violations of alleged witches.”
Killing of 5 over witchcraft: Cost of autopsy stalling investigation – Police
Calabar horror! Man butchers his mother, others for alleged witchcraft
US Rally driver, Ken Block dies in snowmobile accident
He said, “they have made a religious service out of torturing and maltreating supposed human perpetrators of occult harm.”
While making a reference to a particular programme that occurred in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital in November last year, he called on the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to call such pastors to order.
“The Advocacy for Alleged Witches urges the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to call its witch-hunting pastors to order and restrain them from inciting violence and hatred in the name of witchcraft and exorcism. This call has become necessary following a recent Christian witch-hunting event in Ibadan in Southwest Nigeria,” Igwe said.
The statement partly read, “The AfAW is deeply concerned over this activity because similar programs have been linked to cases of witch persecution and related abuses in the communities. Unfortunately, pastors are using witchcraft to assert legitimacy and power.
“They are stoking witchcraft fears and anxieties and getting people to attribute their everyday problems and existential challenges to the assumed magical powers of their relatives.
“Self-styled prophets, men and women of God, use these events to destroy families and poison relationships between couples and their in-laws, parents and their children, people who live in cities, and those who live in the villages.
“Pastors have used these events to turn siblings against siblings, relatives against relatives, men against men, men against women, and adults against children. They have planted and reinforced suspicions and mistrust in the communities.”
It added, “It is pertinent to remind the CAN that witchcraft imputation is a crime under Nigerian law. Section 210 of the criminal code, and section 216 of the penal code state that anyone who accuses or threatens to accuse any person of being a witch or having the power of witchcraft is guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for two years.
“The CAN should take other necessary measures to end abuses linked to witchcraft beliefs and exorcism in 21st century Nigeria.”
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.