The discovery of a witchcraft “healing centre” dubbed torture chamber by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Mararaba, Nasarawa State, is generating anxiety among residents of the area and the FCT, our reporter gathered yesterday.
While many believe that the Salvation Centre for Christ located at Jakawa Village in Karu Local Government of Nasarawa State is more than just a healing or deliverance centre, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) which rescued 40 children from the centre said investigation was still in progress to get concrete details about the center and its proprietor.
In December 2, a combined team of NAPTIP, police and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) operatives stormed the village after a red flag of supposed illegalities was raised by a government security operative. The discovery led to the rescue of 40 children aged between 7 and 14 years.
The spokesman of NAPTIP, Mr Josiah Emerole, said: “NAPTIP, the police and the DIA worked together to investigate the matter to know if the children were victims of trafficking but what we found out was that the 40 the Victims were taken to the said witch doctor, one Mr. Ikoh, at the Torture Clinic in Mararaba area of Nasarawa State, by parents and guardians after they have been hypnotised by persons suspected to be working in partnership with the witch doctor. According to him, the centre was being run by a man named Ezekiel Ikoh who was arrested and is still in the custody of NAPTIP as investigation is still in progress. He said the children were met in an unpleasant condition before being rescued and their parents were met before they were re-united with them.
Asked why Mr. Ikoh is still being held after the parents admitted taking their children there, he said the outcome of the investigation would determine the next line of action.
Despite the official response of the agency, it was gathered that residents of the community are not comfortable with the operations of the centre due to the inhuman condition and cruelty meted to children.
Nasafocus gathered that Ikoh maltreated the children using method of starvation, beating with specialized canes and chaining for days as methods of his “treatment”. Ikoh, who hails from Akoh village in Nasarawa State, is feared rather than being loved by people in the area.