By Ogar Monday
A human right advocate and Executive Director, Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), Mr. Gary Foxcroft has called on the Cross River Sate Government, civil society groups and religious leaders to stop sitting on the fence and take decisive actions against the illegal branding of children as witches and their subsequent abandonment on the streets.
Foxcroft who spoke to CrossRiverWatch on the side lines of a movie screening based on witchcraft branding said that innocent children are made to suffer due to the ignorance of some parents and the greediness of some church leaders, whom his work threatens.
His words, “Because my work has challenged some of the very powerful pastors in Cross River state who have made their fortunes on the back of developing Nollywood films and books and carrying out crusade against witchcraft, I have had a lot, and lots of problems with them.”
On his part, the Secretary, Basic Rights Council Initiative, Barrister James Ibor said persistent cases of witchcraft labelling in Cross River can be blamed on a combination of religious, economic, cultural and political reasons.
“So many people use the Bible to manipulate their environment to defraud unsuspecting members of the public. So it’s both religious and economic. Because they are all unemployed, the only way they can make money is to setup churches and it is easy to create fear among your members, so you will be able to deceive them and defraud them of their hard earned money.
Also speaking, Pastor Bassey Mbang, resident pastor Cornerstone Bible Ministry and State Coordinator of the Albino Foundation, said that churches are using the concept of witchcraft to deceive, as prophets that preach about witches “don’t have sound gospel.”
“Nobody has come to tell me the symptoms of a witch, it is not only children who are tagged witches, if God blesses you with life and you live to be over seventy, people will start calling you a witch. I have not seen any clear cut evidence of witchcraft.
“Most of these pastors do it because of money, because they will go and tell you your child is a witch, I will deliver the child, you have to pay me this, you have to pay me that. It is a business; it pays them that is why they are all there.” He said.
The movie screening which held in Calabar recently, according to organizers, was meant to educate the public, especially those living and reproducing their lives in Cross River State that we have fake pastors among us. We have those who in the name of the church are trafficking children, in the name of the church are branding children witches and wizards, and that explains why we have so many children in the street.