The Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN) has condemned what it described as barbaric acts of burning older persons alleged to be witches or wizards in some Nigerian communities.
Sen. Eze Ajoku, the Coalition President, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja that perpetrators of the dastardly act should be made to face the wrath of the law.
Ajoku was reacting to the incidents where one Thomas Obi Tawo (aka General Iron), Aide to Cross Rivers governor, recently led some thugs to set ablaze several persons suspected of witchcraft in Boki Local Government Area of the state.
Also in Ikere, Ekiti Dtate, a 77-year-old woman was mobbed and murdered on grounds of being witch and the corpse dumped in a stream, while in Agulu, Anambra, an 80 years woman was said to had met her death when she was pushed down by anti-cult operatives.
The coalition however called on government to fully investigate each of these killings to discourage repeat of such nefarious practices.
Ajoku also called on the federal government to invoke relevant sections of the law against perpetrators of such wicked practices no matter their position in the society to serve as deterrent to others.
“We call on government to quickly rise in protection of the older persons who have been stereotyped as witches or wizards by bringing to book perpetrators of the burning.
“Some of the perpetrators to our knowledge are said to be appointees of governors and we cannot watch them evade justice by hiding under executive cover,” he said.
The coalition president, who described the act as not just barbaric but unlawful, wondered how some persons could take the law into their hands by carrying out extra judicial killings without recourse to the law.
He emphasised the need for government to guarantee protection of the vulnerable population especially the older persons.
According to him, Nigeria is not an animal kingdom where the weak is slaughtered at the slightest provocation of the strong on the grounds of frivolous accusations.
Ajoku decried the reckless dehumanisation and murder of older persons in some communities with allegations of being witches or wizards, calling for an end to the cruelty against senior citizens.
“If these older persons are their parents and close relations, will they call them witches. If their children were rich and influential will they try this?,” he asked.
“They are killing poor, struggling and lonely old people who they should have rather offered assistance and paliatives at this hard time instead of being called out as witches.
“Do the perpetrators know the health status of these old people, whether they are suffering from Alzihmers or Dementia.”
Ajoku explained that the presence of these diseases could cause abnormal behaviours likely to be misunderstood.
“What do they know about old age related ailments to call them witches, for some of these victims it could have been a case of dementia.”
He reiterated the call for stronger institutions that could help in the care of older persons when their people no longer cope or understand or tolerate them.
“Instead of burning them, the government should inherit them and take care of them. The state should establish old peoples homes.
“We have this same scenario playing out with abandoned children. These children are absorbed into ophanages. In this case Nursing homes should be provided and paid for by Government.
“We call on the Inspector General of Police to please immediately investigate these killings and abuses and to prosecute all the perpetrators because older persons lives matter.”
According to him, the world will mark Elder Abuse Day on June 15.
It is a day the United Nations set aside to discourage all forms of abuse metted to older persons in different forms, of which this action is one of such.