Not minding prayers and protests against a conference on witchcraft at the University of Nigeria, Nsuka (UNN), the B.I.C Ijomah Centre for Policy and Research, UNN, has hosted the programme.
The event which began on Tuesday, November 26 lasted till Thursday, November 28.
Organisers of the conference said it was a mere academic exercise meant “to interrogate the various things people think is witchcraft,” and not a “gathering of witches” as is being alleged.
Delivering a welcome address at the Princess Alexandra Auditorium, the Director, Prof. B.I.C. Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research, Prof. Egodi Uchendu disclosed that the University decided to undertake the task as one of its responsibilities to set up the ideological imprint of a people.
She stated that African studies such as history, literature, religion, and politics were areas which provide linkages to a people’s culture, adding that as a result of different perceptions on the subject matter, the Prof. B.I.C. Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research, has made itself “a flagship research Centre to provoke intellectual reflections that guide the shaping of thoughts and the development of a pro-positive developmental mindset in Nigeria and Africa”.
She stated that the stigma of witchcraft has done severe blow on accused individuals including social segregation, discrimination, among others.
“For this reason, the B.I.C. Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research has attracted men and women of diverse intellectual backgrounds to explore, investigate, and even critically evaluate belief in witchcraft as a social phenomenon.”
She announced that the conference which was mandated to change its title on banners has suffered a casualty of confusion, with the withdrawal from the conference by the Keynote Speaker, Prof. David Ker only four two days to the event.
One of the lead paper presenters, Prof. Damian Opata gave a paper entitled: “The wealthy are no witches: Towards an epistemology and ideology of witchcraft among the Igbo of Nigeria”.
Other topics in the conference include “Security and Witchcrafts in the Traditional beliefs and practices of the Kaliba (Huba) Community in Nothern Nigeria. C 1500 – 1992” by Samuel Wycliff; “The position of the law in respect of witchcraft in Nigeria: An exposition” by Okunowo Olaitan Oladele and Alake Adeleke; “Theology and Witchcraft” by Asadu Ngozi and Ihuoma Chizoba and “Witchcraft and the law: The Nigerian perspective” by Okichie Ebelechukwu Lawretta.
Prior to this, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) had declared a two-day “prayer of warfare” against the conference.
Enugu PFN chairman Godwin Madualso in a statement called for the cancellation of the conference which he described as “sponsoring evil”.
“So, all Christians should, without further delay, call on the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the awesome God of David to fight for his name,” Madualso said.
Similarly, a concurrent prayer conference, organized by the Dean of Students Affairs of the university was also holding in the evenings, all in a way to subdue the witchcraft conference.
Students of the University also protested against the conference, saying it was “works of agents of darkness.”
Some of the posters carried placards with inscriptions, like, “UNN belongs to Jesus”, “Witches and Wizard, No vacancy!”, “Say no to the meeting of Witches and Wizard’, “We are a Christian community”; “Don’t pollute our environment”.