Witch hunting Churches and Pastors in 21st Century Nigeria

Feature Article Witch hunting Churches and Pastors in 21st Century Nigeria
JAN 3, 2023 LISTEN

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches urges the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to call its witch-hunting pastors to order and restrain them from inciting violence and hatred in the name of witchcraft and exorcism. This call has become necessary following a recent Christian witch-hunting event in Ibadan in Southwest Nigeria. On Friday, November 25, 2022, the Faith and Miracle International Church organized an Ibadan city-wide crusade. Tagged "Destroying the Power of Witchcraft and Marine Spirit", this event took place at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Liberty Stadium Ibadan, Oyo State. Senior Prophet G F Adetuberu presided over this program. It is worrisome that the event happened in contemporary Nigeria.

The AfAW is deeply concerned over this activity because similar programs have been linked to cases of witch persecution and related abuses in the communities. Unfortunately, pastors are using witchcraft to assert legitimacy and power. They are stoking witchcraft fears and anxieties and getting people to attribute their everyday problems and existential challenges to the assumed magical powers of their relatives. Pastors have used these crusades to validate and sanctify abuses and violations of alleged witches; they have made a religious service out of torturing and maltreating supposed human perpetrators of occult harm.

Self-styled prophets, men and women of God, like Adetuberu, use these events to destroy families and poison relationships between couples and their in laws, parents and their children, people who live in cities, and those who live in the villages. Pastors have used these events to turn siblings against siblings, relatives against relatives, men against men, men against women, and adults against children. They have planted and reinforced suspicions and mistrust in the communities.

Christian witch-hunting continues to ravage the country because of the inaction of the Christian Association of Nigeria. The CAN has continued to turn a blind eye to these witch hunting events. Organizations such as the CAN have refused to take a strong stand against witch-hunting churches such as the Faith and Miracle International Church and witch-hunting pastors such as Adetuberu. Some CAN officials offer flimsy excuses. They claim that these pastors are not true men or women of God; that their churches do not belong to the CAN. But the Christian Association of Nigeria should know that: whether these pastors are a part of the CAN or not, their witch hunting activities negatively reflect on the Nigerian church.

It is pertinent to remind the CAN that witchcraft imputation is a crime under Nigerian law. Section 210 of the criminal code, and section 216 of the penal code state that anyone who accuses or threatens to accuse any person of being a witch or having the power of witchcraft is guilty of misdemeanor and liable to imprisonment for two years. The CAN should not allow churches and pastors to indulge in criminal activities or activities that aid and abet crimes. The CAN has a moral obligation to provide leadership and stop giving excuses for their inability and reluctance to rein in witch-hunting churches and pastors. At a time that churches in the west are issuing apologies for their role in witch hunting in early modern Europe, the church in Nigeria should sanction witch hunting churches and pastors. The CAN should take other necessary measures to end abuses linked to witchcraft beliefs and exorcism in 21st century Nigeria.

By Leo Igwe