Witch Hunts In The News

Nigerian Man Convicted of Witchcraft

Stock Photo: An inmate rests his hand on the bars of a prison controlled by the SLA/Mini Minawi in Shangle Tubaya villagePerhaps the most disturbing part of a story out of Abuja, Nigeria is that of one Auta Yako, 50, of Kugbo Market. The Karu Senior Magistrates’ Court on Monday convicted Mr. Yako for being a wizard and inciting public disturbance. The prosecutor, Francis Udofia, a police corporal, told the court that Mr. Yako had confessed openly about having the power of witchcraft on Jan. 12th.

“With the power, he was able to kill one Emma Danjuma at Kugbo,” explained Mr. Udofia. “He said other people will also die.”

Udofia also said Mr. Yako’s claims had caused disturbance and a break down of peace in the area. He said the offence contravened Section 114 of the Penal Code.

Mr. Yako plead guilty to the charge, stating: “I was coming back from the farm when I heard that the some people were planning to kill me.

“I then ran to the police station for safety. I confessed all that happened. I have witchcraft. It was one Fulani woman who gave me the powers.

“I was able to kill one Danjuma. I was planning to kill another person when the news of my initial deed came to the notice of the people.”

The magistrate, Mr. Bashiru Alkali, convicted Yako and ordered him to be remanded in Keffi Prison until Jan. 28 for sentencing. Yajo has pleaded for leniency.

 To our ears, Mr. Yako’s statements sound like a coerced confession. But one could consider that it might be more dangerous to be at-large in Nigeria with the suspicion of witchcraft hanging over you (along with the very real possibility of being hacked to pieces with machetes by local villagers) than being in police custody. That’s the definition of being between a rock and a hard place.

One can only guess the reasoning behind Mr. Yako’s provocative confession.

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