Non-governmental organisations in Akwa Ibom State, Young Humanistas Network and Child Rights Rehabilitation Network, have accused pastors and stepmothers of conniving to label children witches.
The NGOs said they arrived at such conclusion after finding out that many of the children rescued from churches were those living with their stepmothers.
Field Administrator and Head of the Home, YHN, Mr. Emmanuel Okon, said this in Esit Eket, Akwa Ibom State on Tuesday.
He also accused some pastors of telling their congregations that NGOs, like the Young Humanistas Network, were occultist groups and should be ignored.
Okon said, “When we went to Ibaka, we met over 70 pastors during their church programmes, who lined up children they claimed were witches. We told them that the present Child Rights Law in the state would not take it kindly with them and advised them to jettison the practice.
“If you send invitations to them and tell them that you are an NGO and would like to visit their churches; they will turn it down, accusing you of occult practices.
“They said we are unbelievers. When we had seminars with a few of them sometimes ago, we told them that we have members from Deeper Life Christians Ministry, Redeem Christian Church of God, Latter Day Assembly and much more who work with our organisation. We informed them that our organisation is not biased religiously.”
It was learnt that about 200 children tagged witches were moved from the home in May 2011 by the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare.
Although YHN and CRRN had been shut down by the government, members of neighbouring communities and the host community still take stigmatised and abandoned children to the centre.
Meanwhile, four boys, Samuel Monday, Okon Ita, Benji Michael, and Asuquo, whose ages range between 6 and 11 were seen at the home.
Okon said the children would be handed over to the Motherless Children Home, Uyo.
One of the children, Michael, while answering question whether he was a witch, said, “I don’t know what form or colour witches look like. I don’t know anything like that, but my parents abandoned me saying that I am a witch.”