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"She would not hurt a fly" – US-based son-in-law of widow who was brutally murdered and buried in shallow grave over witchcraft allegations in Cross River speaks

Oct 28, 2022

The widow

Five persons were brutally murdered in Ndon Owong community of Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State, over allegations that they were witches. 


The victims, three women and two men were tied, tortured, and murdered after being accused of being responsible for evil happenings in Ndon Owong by Chiefs and youths in the community. 


Bodies of the victims were subsequently dragged by these youths and village leaders into the forest where they were buried in a shallow grave.


One of the victims has been identified as Mrs. Iquo Edet Eyo, a widow, who lost her husband in 2021.


She had been struggling to cope with the stress of taking care of the children when she was tagged a witch and hacked to death. 


Mrs. Eyo’s USA based son-in-law, Marshall Umanah, a student doctor has led calls for justice to prevail.


Speaking from New York City where he is undergoing his medical training, he said his mother-in-law was not a witch and would never have hurt a fly. 


“It is incomprehensible that innocent people are still being accused of witchcraft and killed in the 21st century. My dear mother-in-law would not hurt a fly and was certainly not a witch. I call upon the international community to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to ensure that her death is not in vain and those behind this heinous act are arrested and prosecuted immediately”,” he said. 


Meanwhile, a coalition of UK and Nigeria based Human Rights Groups have appealed to the International community, Nigerian Federal Government and Cross River State Government to ensure that the murderers of the 5 innocent people are brought to justice.


The coalition in a statement issued on Wednesday evening, October 26, said the tragic incident was triggered by a motorcycle accident that took place on the evening of 13th October in Ndon Nwong community in Odukpani Local Government, Cross River State.


“Following this, two children were tortured and forced to identify the suspected “witches” that were behind the accident,” the statement read. 


“The youths of the community quickly rallied and identified 5 people who they believed to have caused the accident with their perceived witchcraft. 


“The victims were then taken to the village square where they were tried by a kangaroo court made up of local chiefs and youth leaders. They were tied up, tortured, and eventually beaten to death. 


“One of the victims was identified as a widow, Mrs. Iquo Edet Eyo. After telling the youth that she was not a witch, she was beaten mercilessly with machetes, sticks and cudgels.


“She was reportedly sexually assaulted, cut along her stomach, hand, and with multiple blows to her head.


“The 5 victims were subsequently dragged by these youths and so-called village leaders into the forest away from the growing crowd of village folks and on-lookers where the final executions reportedly took place, and their bodies dumped in a shallow grave.


“As of October 23rd, arrests are yet to be made and the bodies are yet to be exhumed by the authorities for autopsy and proper burial. 


“Cross River and neighbouring Akwa Ibom State have become well known throughout the world for the deeply entrenched beliefs in witchcraft and subsequent horrific abuses of human rights, most notably with regard to children accused of witchcraft.


“These issues were widely condemned after activists raised awareness of them in documentary films and various UN reports. This, in turn, led to the UN Human Rights Council passing an historic Resolution in 2021?on the elimination of harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks. ?


“The UN resolution urges States to condemn the widespread discrimination, stigma, social exclusion and forced displacement experienced by those accused of witchcraft, and to ensure accountability and the effective protection of all victims of witchcraft accusations. This is the first resolution of its kind, calling for a more holistic approach in addressing harm resulting from accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks,” the statement added. 


One of the activists who spent 6 years working intensively to pressure the UN to pass this resolution is Gary Foxcroft, Chair of Trustees of the UK registered charity – Safe Child Africa. Speaking from London he said:


“It is extremely disheartening to see that, despite our best efforts, Governments are still failing to protect the most vulnerable members of society from such horrific acts. Mrs. Iquo Eyo was a grandmother, mother, sister and friend to many in her community. She was not a witch. The Nigerian Federal Government and Cross River State Government need to do more to ensure that their names are not further tarnished by the ongoing killings of people due to erroneous beliefs in witchcraft. This should include arresting those behind such crimes and regulating those faith leaders who promote the malevolent beliefs that drive such evil acts”