Two “Witch children” Rescued from Traffickers
On February 11, 2011 I led a team of child rights activists and a police officer who rescued two children – Freedom Peter Okoro-Oko (8) and Anietie Mfon Ime Etuk (10) – following a tip off from our local contacts in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The kids were living in a shanty buiding with an old man, Asuquo Akpan Ukpong, whose family members – according to local sources – trafficked children.
Freedom and Anietie were accused of witchcraft and then abandoned by their families. They were living in the local market square before they were ‘picked up’ by Mr Asuquo who used them as child labourers. (Asuquo, we were told, used to send children to work for him on his farm. They were peeling cassave at the time our team arrived.) Sources in the community said the children could disappear any moment because Asuquo’s family members were into human trafficking and had targeted child witch victims in the community.
At the local police station, officers confirmed that two members of Asuquo’s family had, in the past, been arrested for human trafficking. I made a report at the station and later handed over the two children to Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare in Uyo for proper care and other necessary investigations.