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Comrade Egeh Ukara Emerges Advocate For Alleged Witches Of The Year 2022

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The Advocacy for Alleged Witches, AfAW, works and campaigns to recognize the efforts and contributions of courageous men and women to end witch persecution in their communities. The advocate of the year 2022 award goes to Ms. Egeh Ebe Ukara from Cross River state in Southern Nigeria. Ms. Ukara has been instrumental in rescuing and rehabilitating alleged witches in her community, Akamkpa and its environs.

The AfAW salutes her courage, sacrifice, and selfless service. Over the years, she has worked closely with AfAW’s partner organization, the Basic Rights Counsel Initiative (BRCI) to support and protect individuals who have been accused of witchcraft. She has engaged in public education and enlightenment of witchcraft believers in her community.

Ms Ukara has reported many cases of witch persecution and used her resources to ensure the safety of the accused. I did not know this courageous woman until 2020. I was having dinner with the director of the BRCI, Barr James Ibor after a recording of Funmi Iyanda’s Public Eye episode on child witches in Lagos. Barr Ibor’s phone rang. As he was speaking on the phone, he appeared visibly worried. He later passed the phone on to me. He urged me to attend to the caller.

Leo Igwe, Egeh Ebe Ukara

The caller was someone that I later came to know as Ms. Ukara. She was asking for some urgent assistance to save the life of an alleged witch. Some people accused a woman in her neighborhood of witchcraft. They abducted the woman and took her to a nearby bush threatening to kill her. She called asking for help and intervention to save the life of the woman before her abductors would murder her as was usually the case in the area. She provided some contacts of family and community heads whom we called and urged to assist.

The woman was eventually rescued from her abductors. She sustained injuries from beatings and assault by her abductors. Ms. Ukara helped in relocating the woman to a place of safety and in taking care of her basic needs while the case was being resolved.

Without Ms. Ukara’s intervention and support, this woman’s abductors would have disappeared and murdered her. In the course of defending and protecting the woman, Ms. Ukara suffered threats and intimidation. But she never relented. The case was charged to court and on a particular occasion, one of the defendants saw her at the court premises and spat at her.

In recognition of all that she has endured rescuing and supporting this woman and other alleged witches in her community, the AfAW has awarded her the Advocate of the Year. The AfAW appreciates the contributions and heroic efforts that she has made to the rescue, protection, and rehabilitation of alleged witches in her community.

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches will continue to shine the light on the initiatives of all advocates because without the contributions of courageous men and women like Ms. Ukara many alleged witches would be dead, and witch persecutions would not end.

The AfAW hopes that this award would inspire other advocates to be actively involved in resisting witch hunters and witch persecutors in the communities. Alleged witches are innocent. Their torture and killing are crimes against womanity and humanity. Nobody should stand by and watch as an alleged witch is attacked and killed. People should endeavor to report or alert the AfAW and local authorities on any case of witch persecution.

At the AfAW’s decade of activism enters its third year, we urge every one to be vigilante. The year 2023 presents another opportunity to beat back the tide of witch persecution, and realize a witch-hunting-free Africa. Every Nigerian, every African, should become an advocate against witchcraft allegations and witch persecution in the communities.

We need people like Ms. Ukara in every family, and community across Nigeria, and Africa. Congratulations, Ms Ukara!

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