Stepping Stones Nigeria and our local partner organisation are facing some major challenges at the moment with our relationship with the Akwa Ibom State Government. We need your support in order to continue with the good work that we have been doing to save and protect the lives of children accused of witchcraft in the State. It will only take 5 or 10 minutes of your time to complete this action but your support will make a big difference and will be much appreciated.
Thanks so much for all of your ongoing support,
The SSN Team
In August 2010, in response to the broadcast of a CNN documentary on child witches in Akwa Ibom State, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, claimed that Stepping Stones Nigeria and our Nigerian partner NGO, CRARN, are fraudulent organisations who have extorted over £2 million from members of the public and not used it to help children accused of witchcraft in the State. These were the same allegations that were levelled against the organisations by the Nigerian pastor, Helen Ukpabio, in law suits that she filed against them in 2009. Governor Akpabio then proceeded to give interviews on local TV. Calls were made to arrest the Programme Director of SSN, Gary Foxcroft and the President of CRARN, Sam Itauma and the governor stated that “heads will roll”.
On 10th November 2010 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raided the CRARN children’s centre and tried to arrest Sam Itauma after a petition had been filed to them, again claiming massive fraud. Both SSN and CRARN have refuted these ongoing allegations in the strongest possible terms and stated that their accounts are publicly available documents.
On 20th November 2010, Governor Akpabio announced that he had established a Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusations in Akwa Ibom State in order to “ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegation that several children in Akwa Ibom State were stigmatised, maltreated, killed and/or buried in shallow graves on account of being branded as witches and wizards”, and for them to “identify the shallow graves and the particulars of the children affected and also to identify those who were maltreated, stigmatised or caused their deaths and make appropriate recommendations.”
Stepping Stones Nigeria’s Response
Whilst we welcome the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusations, Stepping Stones Nigeria feels that there is a great need for the international community to monitor the independence and objectivity of the Commission.
As part of our commitment to supporting the work of the Commission, SSN is working extremely hard with all of our Nigerian partners to compile a comprehensive dossier of evidence.
However, we really do need more help to ensure that the Akwa Ibom State Government know that the eyes of the world are monitoring the situation and are willing to hold them to account.
What you can do to help…
1. Send a letter to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State
Click here for the template letter format.
Please either print this, insert your signature and post to our UK address (we will ensure that it is forwarded to Nigeria) or print, sign, scan and email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively you may wish to send your own personalised letter. Please read our ‘tips for letter writing’ page and check the template letter for details of address and government protocol before sending it. If you wish to check it with us first, again, please email email@example.com
Please note that the Commission will conclude by the end of 2010. All letters need to be sent to SSN urgently if they are to reach Nigeria in time.
1. Contact the Governor via Facebook
You can find the Governor’s page by searching for “Godswill Obot Akpbaio”. Please send a message:
a) Congratulating the Governor on establishing the Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusations in Akwa Ibom State.
b) Raising concern over the lack of prosecutions of offenders and calling for justice for victims of child witchcraft accusations.
c) Highlighting that the international community will be monitoring the findings of the Commission closely.
2. Sign the Petition
Please read, sign and forward the following petition to all of your contacts.