Akwa Ibom State Government will not fold its hands and watch evil elements of society dehumanise, demoralise, bastardise,
displace, stigmatise, or persecute our children for personal gains. The issues involved
were placed on critical observation and Government has addressed and appealed to
religious leaders to participate in governance for the support and protection of
It is therefore pertinent
to note the observations, government position and expectations.
On the issues involved, government views these as economic machinations of a few
It is government's position to investigate and make all culpable persons face prosecution
with the aim of disabling the perpetuation of this crime against children.
While efforts of all who brought these issues to the notice of government is appreciated,
we state that this is a new dawn for all children of Akwa Ibom State and therefore
appeal to all for continued support for government programmes so that development
can be taken to all parts and all persons of Akwa Ibom State.
In its totality, we observe the committing of cruelty to children and willful infliction
of pain and suffering on children through physical and emotional mistreatment. In
particular the following were observed:
- Abuse of child rights
- Religious manipulation by charlatans
- Exposure of children to torture
- Stigmatisation of children
- Dehumanisation and demoralisation of children
The Government of Akwa Ibom State accords
legitimacy to the principle that the rights of the child are universal and indivisible.
In addition, the Government provides for economic, social, and cultural rights and
the right to development.
Hence, Government sought legislative
powers to enforce child rights and made budgetary provisions to bring social services within the reach of all Akwa Ibom children.
Notable among these is the child rights act which the governmnet
will assent to in a matter of days. The state's free education policy places education
in the hands of all children in Akwa Ibom State irrespective of economic background. Government now has
hospitals in all 31 local coucills of the state equipped with modern equipments
and mobile clinics to take helthcare to all.
However, Government was embarrassed with a feedback that our 'streets are laced with child witches'
Consequently, Government takes a stand on
the matter and is set to deal very decisively and in accordance with the rule of
law and due process as follows:
- Place full legislative machinery
against labelling of children as witches
- Advance high powered investigation into every
element of the issues involved and all allegations against persons involved in stigmatisation
of children as witches
- Prosecute all persons found culpable
of this crime of child labelling
- Deploy social resources for the support, comfort and enjoyment of all categories of children all
over the state
- Possibility of closure of every
organisation involved in this evil stigmatisation of children
- Government will not spare any culprit
Akwa Ibom State Government wants all citizens
to come to the realisation that Government is genuinely proactive in developing
and uplifting social, economic, and moral standards of all citizens of the state
and will stop at nothing until a dynamic prosperous, productive populace, where
equal opportunity, justice, social, political equity, and harmony prevail among
all ethnic nationalities and geopolitical zones in Akwa Ibom State.
Expectations of Government has therefore
been that our children will be in classrooms pursuing their careers, that parents
and guardians will free children around them of all encumbrances and support this
Therefore, Government expects all to do the
- Support from all for government
policies on child rights and protection of children
- Free children of all encumbrances and support their
education on the platform of government’s free education policy
- Promote good moral values among
- Mobilize families against stigmatisation
- Nurture children to maturity
- Take advantage of government's health policies
for the benefit of all Akwa Ibom children.
Government has studied and developed a strategy on containing
issues outlined above. Government is not
expected to just act, but to get all the
details and facts and be fair to all parties. On September, 12, 2008 the Governor
warned parties that may be engaged in this evil that government will not take it
lying low. Government made appeals to religious leaders and Christian Association
of Nigeria (CAN), an appeal was made which was even published in the Daily Sun Newspaper
of 13th September, 2008, where Governor Godswill Akpabio called on religious leaders
in Akwa Ibom State to rise to the call of protecting families.
On 28th November, 2008, Governor Godswill
Akpabio set a tone of action at the occasion
of the maiden Annual Teachers' Award
for Excellence in Akwa Ibom State public schools sponsored by Inoyo Toro Foundation
held at the Le Meridien Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo, stating that, Akwa Ibom State
Government would close down mushroom churches and prosecute fake pastors who are
in the habit of stigmatising children as witches and wizards.
Arising from His Excellency’s stated position, preliminary actions geared towards wiping out this crime of labbeling children
as witches were taken and are as follows:
of Bishop Sunday Ulup-Aya: On
the 29th November at about 2pm, the Police moved swiftly to Mbo Local Government
Area for the arrest of one Bishop Sunday Ulup-Aya
who stated his involvement in
this matter on video. The said Bishop was successfully apprehended with an accomplice
and are presently in detention on a holden charge from where he will face criminal
In view of the above, Government will not
hesitate to effect further arrests and prosecutions of organisations, individuals
or even parents who are involved in child abuse and labelling children as 'witches'.
of displaced children into protective support: At
the arrest of the self-styled bishop, about three children were discharged from
illegal custudy and immediately given government support. They appear normal and
mechanisms and programmes for the defence and protection of children: The Governor plans to assent to the child rights act on
4th December, a law that will be fully implemented for the protection of Akwa Ibom
children irrespective of economic background.