"He was killed over a church claim of wizardry," says boy's mother
Mrs. Erueke John, mother of the seven-year-old boy, Joshua Zikeme, allegedly tortured to death at the Akaba community in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State has cried out for justice. Joshua was a Nursery 3 pupil of the Dominion Success Academy, located in Yenagoa.
According to her, the boy was allegedly beaten to death by his father and stepmother over alleged suspicion of wizardry, after tying him to a stake.
Authorities of the Bayelsa State Police Command had on Monday night confirmed the arrest of the deceased’s father, Idiesy Zikeme and stepmother, Eunice Zikeme, on the suspicion of beating and torturing Joshua to death.
Police sources told The Guardian that the suspects had on Monday rushed the deceased to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) dead with various nasty marks on his body before the hospital authorities alerted the police, which led to their arrest.
Pictures of the deceased, which has since gone viral, had provoked outrage, as residents called on the state government and the Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA) to intervene and ensure swift prosecution of the suspects.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, the 29-year-old mother of the deceased, Erueke said though the boy might have been stubborn towards his father, he had never displayed any sign of witchcraft as alleged by the suspects.
She said: “They killed my son in cold blood. I was told the suspects used sharp objects to slice all parts of his body in an attempt to exorcise the alleged wizardry. I left the man’s house while I was pregnant with the boy. He was into the illegal sales of hard drugs and other dangerous substances. I also left him because he used to beat me up as a pregnant woman.
"If he had come alone to seek that the child should come to stay with him, I wouldn’t have agreed because he is too violent, but the stepmother pleaded with him and I agreed. Many people, including the teacher in school warned me but I allowed them take the child. And they have killed him for me,” she lamented.
Mrs. John claimed that the allegation of witchcraft and wizardry by the suspect was based on the purported revelation from a church based in the same area. “The church is a one-room place of worship. They claimed they took my son to the place and they were told he was a wizard."
At the deceased’s school, Divine Success Academy, the pupils were shocked upon hearing the news of Joshua’s death.
Proprietress of the school, Mrs. Juliana Isaac, said: “We are shocked at the death of the boy. A child showing signs of stubbornness does not make him a wizard to be killed in cold blood. We know him and we even missed him during the last examinations."
Reacting, the Federation of Female Lawyers in the state led by Dise Ogbise-Erhisere, condemned the rising cases of violence against women and children in the state.
She called on the state government to send the appropriate bill instituting a special court to prosecute cases of defilement and violence against women and children.