AK Info Commissioner Cautions Against Child Stigmatization


Individuals and groups, who engage in victimizing and stigmatizing children or sponsoring campaigns of calumny based on witchcraft issues, have been cautioned to desist forthwith, or face the full wrath of the law.
The commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Aniekan Umanah made this known recently, while speaking on some topical issues in the State. He maintained that the government has enabling laws concerning child rights and protection aimed at checkmating all forms of child abuse, including child-witch cases.
Mr. Umanah who condemned in its entirety, the abuse of the rights of children, mentioning that “Akwa Ibom State Government  promulgated in 2008, the Child Rights and Protection Law, which prohibits stigmatization of any Akwa Ibom child as a witch or wizard and clearly prescribes severe punishment ,including lengthy imprisonment terms for offenders”.
The commissioner noted that in view of the fact that the government has done what is required by law, international institutions, individuals, non-governmental organizations or other collaborative ventures should recognize what the legal statutes prescribes and should therefore do the right thing.
According to him, “this infers that whatever child related issues that may be discovered should be directed to the Social Welfare Department or relevant authorities to handle.”
Expressing confidence in the capability of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration to handle all matters pertaining to the wellbeing of all citizens, he cautioned against a resort to blackmail, adding that humanitarian activities should be on course without infringing on the children’s right as it were.   He emphasized that the relevant bodies in charge of child welfare in the State are fully equipped to handle such issues.
Mr. Umanah advised that under no circumstance or guise should children be stigmatized or abused because government will mete out adequate punishment to whoever may be involved.
The Commissioner’s warning is against the backdrop of information that a certain  Danish woman, Anja Ringgren Loven, founder of African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF), is raising funds and making documentary on ‘child witch’ situation in Nigeria, after she claimed to have rescued a child accused of witchcraft in Akwa Ibom State.
He advised such foundation and other well-meaning organisations to work with the relevant child welfare departments of government, in line with the extant laws governing such matters in the State.



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