A child and women’s rights advocate, James Ibor, has insisted that witchcraft branding is dangerous and that the practice has led to 22 persons being lynched in Nigeria since 2021.
Ibor, the principal counsel of Basic Rights Counsel Initiative or BRCI, said the belief in witchcraft is rooted in fear and people’s desire to explain what they do not understand.
The legal practitioner said this while speaking on a Prime Progress Twitter Space on “Witchcraft accusation: History and impact of witchhunt,” held to commemorate the World Day Against Witch hunts.
Ibor held that while the law is expressly against witchcraft branding, there are challenges with arresting and prosecuting those who brand people as witches because the police and other state apparatus are either underfunded or lack the political will to prosecute these incidences.
He added that in Cross River State and other areas where they work, they have liaised with religious leaders to make them understand why they have a right to their beliefs, their actions are subject to the law of the land and any attempt to label any congregation as a witch will be dealt with within the ambits of the law.
Barrister reiterated the need for journalists to do their part by reporting on evidence rather than writing stories that encourage the belief in witchcraft and, by extension, witchcraft accusations.
Also speaking on the space, Josephine Anenih said there is a need for collaboration to end witchcraft branding as it targets the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, the aged and women.
She added that there is also a class aspect to it, as there has never been a case where a rich person or their child has been accused of witchcraft.