NGO lauds Ayade for criminalising child witchcraft branding

By Christian Njoku
 An NGO, Child Protection Network, (CPN) has lauded Gov. Ben Ayade of  Cross River for criminalising child witchcraft branding in the state by signing into law, the Child Right Amendment Bill, 2023, now to be known as Cross River Child Rights Law 2023.
This is contained in a statement by the Coordinator of the CPN in Cross River, Mr Kebe Ikpi, on Thursday in Calabar.
The group thanked Gov. Ben Ayade for the special gift to the children of the state.
”This gift is coming a few days to the Children’s day celebration and the end of the current
”We played key roles in the review and legislative process of this law,”Ikpi said.
Speaking further, the coordinator  encouraged members and partners to read the new law and acquaint themselves with its provisions.
“Let me use this opportunity to draw the attention of members of the society that this law criminalises child witchcraft branding and has made fostering and adoption of children simpler.
“Schools and those who associate discipline with violence, should know that corporal punishment is now a crime, they should acquaint themselves with non-violent disciplinary measures,” he said.
He thanked Mrs Getrude Njar, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Cross River Judiciary, House of Assembly, the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other stakeholders for their efforts in pushing for the law to signed.
However, in an interview with NAN, a civil servant, Mr John Bassey said the state government should  be careful in accepting whatever idea was sold to them from the western world, such as criminalising corporal punishment.
Bassey maintained that Nigerians between the 1930s and 1980s underwent strict discipline and even corporal punishment and they did not die but came out as responsible adults.
“Today we have children who can hardly tell their left from their right, they lack discipline and the hands of those who should correct them like teachers and parents are tied. I pray we don’t regret this in the near future,” he said.
NAN reports that the issue of child witchcraft branding had been prevalent in Cross River, where some children had been kept in chains or abandoned by their parents because they were declared to be witches by some religious leaders.
NAN reports that Gov. Ayade on Monday, assented to the bill which sought to repeal the Child Rights Law No. 4 of 2009 and to enact the Child Rights Law of Cross Rivere and for other related matters.
In the law, it is expressly criminal to brand a child a witch or claim to have the power to exorcise witchcraft.
The law also criminalises corporal punishment in schools.
The law mandatory for public facilities to report all cases of child abuse, especially sexual assault.
NAN reports that lots of inhibitions placed on fostering and adoption were also removed. (NAN)