Three suspects; Mallam Yusuf, Samaila Adamu, and Gaji Mallam Yusuf were standing trial on the alleged killing of a boy and the torturing of another boy for one year by bewitchment. The suspects had pleaded not guilty to the charges laid on them. Abubakar Umaru, who is the father of the murdered boy stated that in the year, 2020, the accused had entered his house and bewitched three of his children; Sulieman, Nafisa, and Yusuf, and that, unfortunately, after some time, Yusuf died.
Meanwhile, Sulieman was still suffering from the effects of the bewitchment and had been ill for up to a year. Abubakar Umaru decided to take him to Sarkin Mayu, who applied some herbs on him, as a result, the boy started mentioning the names of the suspect and the father, Abubakar Umaru, decided to sue these suspects to restore the health of the child as he wouldn’t want to lose him, the way he lost Yusuf.
The suspects pleaded not guilty but obviously, the court did not believe them and instead sent for the herbalist, Sarkin Mayu who asked the “bewitched” boy to lay on the floor and asked the suspects to walk across him, three times. After the suspects did this, they confessed to bewitching the boy but stated that they had removed whatever spell they cast on him earlier.
Following their confession, The Chief Magistrate of the court, Abdulrazaq Adamu, issued a remand order and sent the accused to a Yola correctional facility till November 9, 2021.
It is very funny how the “body” supposedly in charge of law and order in the country, is the same body going against the same rules it formed. The Nigerian constitution states expressly, its displeasure on witchcraft of any sort. It goes on to state that anyone who represents himself to own charm, which is intended to be used to compel any person to do any act which such a person has a legal right to refrain from doing, shall be punished. In simpler terms, it is against the law to use magical powers or any fetish means to obtain statements and in the case stated above, the court should be questioned.
This is not the first time a fetish means has been used to extract confessions from suspects. This term is called trial by ordeal. Trial by ordeal is an ancient legal practice in which an accused person is required to perform a test. The outcome decides if the accused is guilty or not.
This practice not only promotes judicial killings, it also opens up avenues for homicides. What if the suspects were given concoctions to drink that can kill them or immobilize them? What happens next? What if the herbalist contacted for this job has an ill motive against the suspect? Or the herbalist has connived with a family member to prove the accused is guilty? The truth is, this practice negatively impacts the socioeconomic fabric of every Nigerian, and very soon, this fetish practice would become a global concern putting Nigeria in a negative light.
Even if the suspects might have been guilty, the act violates their basic human rights and as a result, would impede the development not only of these suspects but also of the community as a whole.