Child-Witch-Finding Pastor Accused of Trafficking

Made children work in restaurants, took two-thirds of their earnings

In January 2009 I wrote a short blog entry about Pastor Bawa Madaki, who was reported in Leadership Nigeria (link now dead) as having rescued the city of Masaka from “demon-possessed children” – another term for child-witches. Madaki got children to confess to causing misfortune by supernatural means, and in one case a boy was made to explain that he had killed his mother by “sucking her blood”.

But what happened to those children next? The article didn’t say, but earlier this month the Daily Champion reported that the pastor has now been arrested for alleged child trafficking:

The suspected child trafficker, Madaki who claimed to be the General Overseer of Eternity Independent Baptist Church in Masaka, a suburb in Nasarawa state gets his victims mostly from Taraba, Plateau and Nasarawa states respectively.

Investigation carried out by the [National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP)]… revealed that Pastor Madaki sends out the children to work in restaurants where the operator of the restaurants usually pay the victims a thousand five hundred naira per week and the children remits on thousand naira to the pastor every Friday when they go to him for prayers.

But the pastor claimed that the parents of the children brought the said children whose age’s range from five to 20 to him for deliverance from witchcraft attack.

According to him, “Jesus appeared to me on June 25, 2004 and blessed me with powers to cure witchcraft attack, cancer and fibroid amongst others. The parents as a result of their individual affliction or spiritual attack have abandoned many of these children to me to cater for.

“I did not steal them for trafficking or any child labour, I was only doing the work God called me to do”, he added.

This site has further details:

The Pastor Bawa Madaki said that he had no option left, as the children are being abandoned by the parents in the church. His decision was to get them a job by which they will keep some of the money and return some to him to enable him take care of the children.

“I do not steal these children, these children are been brought for deliverance from demonic attacks and spiritual forces. The parents never came back for their children due to the fear of been possessed by demons and remember I have to take care of these children on my own so, I got them a job to do,” Pastor Madaki added

However, the Pastor was no able to provide the contact of the parents of the children; neither does he know the surname of the children. As some of the children were said to be resident of the Northern Nigeria and in no way lives in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.

The incident has put pressure on the Christian Association of Nigeria to regulate churches and to speak out against pastors accusing children of witchcraft; Stepping Stones Nigeria is urging people to write to Archbishop John O. Onaiyekan, the President of CAN, asking the organisation to

1. Make a statement denouncing the belief in child witches.
2. Regulate your membership, ensuring that churches are trained in child protection and child rights.
3. Report to the police all churches you become aware of who are accusing children of witchcraft or carrying out any form of child abuse.
4. Work in coalition with
Stepping Stones Nigeria and their partner organisations to Prevent the Abuse of Children Today.

It seems to me that it would also be very helpful if some big-name evangelists – both western and Nigerian – could also speak out against the belief and its tragic consequences.

I have written about Stepping Stones Nigeria before; it is a British charity, and two Channel 4 documentaries (here and here) have highlighted its work and that of its partners – in particular the  Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network, whose director Sam Itauma received an award from Amnesty last year. However, their efforts have come under sustained attack from the powerful evangelist Helen Ukpabio (recently promoted to “Apostle”) and her followers.

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