Two elderly men beaten and strangled to death for witchcraft in Benue State -By Leo Igwe

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches condemns the gruesome murder of Kwaghange Ugbu and Atuur Shaaja of Gwer East LGA of Benue. The murder of Ugbu and Shaaja happened less than two months after youths attacked a suspected witch in Shangev Tiev, Konshisha LGA. According to local sources, on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, 25-year-old David Terseer Nongobo from Mbaaku Mbasombo Gwer East LGA of Benue collapsed while working on the farm. He was later confirmed dead at a local hospital. David has just graduated from high school.

In reaction to his death, some members of the community, including Aper Iorfa, Ter Tarnongo, Bamo Oraduen, Terhemen Agber, etc. stormed the house of David’s uncles, Kwaghange Ugbu and Atuur Shaaja. They accused them of killing David Terseer by sorcery. They beat him and cut him with cutlasses and axes. They tied a rope around their necks and dragged them until they died.

Eyewitnesses said that as they were being tortured, the defendant could be heard shouting in the local language, “We don’t know anything about this boy’s death.” And the crowds shouted back, “We will torture you both to death for killing Tersoo with your sorcery.” Their family members; their wives (Mary Kwaghhange and Martha Kwaghange) and sons watched helplessly as the defendants were beaten and tortured to death. A family member told AfAW that relatives of the deceased tried to intervene to save them without success. Kwaghhange Ugbu’s son on Sunday tried to intervene and was told he would also be tortured like his father if he tried. His younger brother tried to resist the crowd but was beaten. The corpses of the deceased were left in the open air, in the compound of Ugbu, until the following day. No one was allowed to touch them. On September 29, the bodies were removed and placed in the morgue.

AfAW is calling on the Commissioner of Police and the Benue State Government to arrest and prosecute the suspects and ensure justice is served. They should send a strong message that justice in the jungle will not be tolerated in Benue and that those who engage in ordeal trials and extrajudicial executions of alleged witches will be held accountable for their crimes.

The National Human Rights Commission, the International Federation of Women Lawyers and the Department of Social Welfare should liaise and support the families of victims. AfAW urges the people of Benue to renounce accusations of witchcraft and persecution of witches. They should understand that witchcraft is a superstition. The accusation of witchcraft is a crime according to the law. Benue people should abandon superstitions and embrace science and critical thinking.

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