By Ogar Monday
A 76-year-old woman has narrated how some members of her community in Isong-Inyang in Akamkpa Local Government Area, and family members tried killing her and eventually threw her out of her property on the accusation of being a witch.
Mrs. Affiong Abritam, a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA), said trouble started for her when in 2020 she lost her mum, a sibling, and her son within a short period.
“The Chiefs and everyone accused me of being responsible for their death,” Mrs. Abritam who spoke through an interpreter stated, saying she was dragged to the forest, beaten with a machete, and was threatened to confess to being a witch or she will be killed.
The mother of five said her life has been turned upside down as “I have been driven out of my properties, and I cannot work because of the stigma.”
Even as she has left the house, Mrs. Abritam still fears for her life. “Recently, one of my relatives whose wife is pregnant came threatening me with a machete. He said he will kill me if anything happens to his wife.”
Mrs. Abritam’s fears are not unfounded, last month, 5 persons were killed in the nearby Odukpani Local Government Area after being accused of being witches.
Mrs. Abritam said some of her children have sided with her relatives, and that she has spent all her savings trying to beat the accusation. “When I am dragged before the community I was asked to buy drinks, goats, and sometimes even bring money. I have lost count of the number of times I have paid just for me to get my life back.”
The only child who stands behind her has been driven away from the village and now lives in Calabar.
Mrs. Abritam was rescued by Ms. Ege Ebe Ukara, the Akamkpa Local Government Chairperson of the Child Protection Network, CPN with support from the Basic Rights Counsel Initiative, BRCI, and the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, AfAW, said she has handed her accuses to the “hand of God” and that “God will judge them accordingly”.
Leo Igwe of AfAW said that the belief in witches is rooted in fear, and has been used to settle personal scores. “If you have something that I want and I don’t know how to get it, by simply accusing you of being a witch, the community will bounce on you. no questions asked.”