By Leo Igwe
On January 26, an advocate sent a message to the Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW) urging it to investigate a case of an alleged witch murder in Awgu in Enugu in Southern Nigeria. The message states: “Please investigate the allegation that a woman was killed as a suspected witch because her husband who lives abroad accused her of being the reason why he dares(sic) not return home anymore, suspected that she killed their son, and her daughter, suspected that she was the reason she could not attract a spouse. The proof of witchcraft was that she had a list of people who died in the village, a fact that is found in every home because people always kept a list of those they gave gifts to during funerals. The town is Awgu in Awgu Local Government of Enugu State, Nigeria. Your investigation may help to reeducate the villagers against witch-hunting”.AfAW is not a police agency but liaises with the police and other institutions to bring justice to the accused. Through its network, AfAW found out that this middle-aged woman, Agatha Mgboebuba Nwankwo, was accused of witchcraft and subsequently killed by a local mob. On January 5, one Silas Okolie made a Facebook post on the incident: “Sad: Villagers disgrace woman caught with ‘voodoo’ item. The worst happened in Awgu in early 2022 as Woman alleged to be perpetrating evil in the community was caught after an alarm was raised due to her ill actions. Stories have it that a paper was picked in her room that contained names of people she has allegedly dealt with and those she will still do including her daughters and new husband’s name. Lots of incriminating Items was(sic) found in her abode during a thorough search by the villagers. She was beaten mercilessly and sent to her creator. Parading someone (evil Doer) in the market or roadside is the worst disgrace anybody will ever receive in Awgu, Enugu State. The evil man does must surely live with them”.
Unfortunately, some of the people who commented on the post supported the murder of this innocent woman. One said: “Thank you Lord for exposing her”; while another noted: “They said it was even her daughter that saw the snake inside a bowl of water with some juju under her bed, and some names she wrote in a sheet of paper including her daughter name and her new husband to be, that she is going to kill them next week, whenever she killed them she will mark it, there was a man from Awgu that was found dead on a palm tree last month, they said his name was also among the list…that was how she was exposed to the world by her daughter, but thank God she has been killed and thrown away to the bush. May God always protect his children”
When contacted, Okolie confirmed that he made the post the same day that Agatha was murdered. But one of those who commented stated: “yes they killed her the day before yesterday”. Thus Agatha might have been murdered on January 3. Whether on January 3 or 5. This innocent woman is no more. The state police command and office of the National Human Rights Commission in Enugu have been contacted to look into the matter. Nobody has come forward to report the case. According to an informant the following persons need to be interrogated: Mr. Remijus Nwankwo – the husband in London can be interviewed by the investigators. His daughter, Chikwado Nwankwo was said to have found the alleged list. She was said to have been to a church that allegedly told her that her mother was responsible for her misfortunes and that she and the father of her four children were the ones who helped the villagers to discover that the mother and grandmother were the witches causing problems. Mark Chukwuino was alleged by the husband to be his uncle who sent him similar lists. Emmanuel Nwankwo Mba is the uncle of the woman alleged to have suspected that she also killed his wife with witchcraft and must have seen her attackers because she was allegedly killed near his home.
As an informant explained: I have just spoken to a relative who told me that he suspected his uncle, Mr. Mark Chukwuino, as the instigator because he had been threatening his wife. According to him, the uncle recently sent him a list of dead enemies allegedly compiled by his wife but it was typewritten and so no way to prove that his wife compiled such a list. The uncle then sent another handwritten list but it was not in his wife’s handwriting. He asked the wife to leave the family home and go and stay in a hotel for a while but she told him that no one runs away from his father’s compound. The uncle then phoned and threatened to send ‘ndu ogba ozi’ or messengers to force her out if she did not leave. He said that someone later sent him a video of how some people broke into his house and dragged his wife out and beat her to death. He promised to forward the video to me and I will forward it to you as soon as I receive it. I asked him if he has reported the murder to the police and he said that I must know how the police work in Naija. I do not know what he means by that but I know that it is believed to be an abomination for a family member to invite the police in matters that involve other family members. He said that he had been ill since he returned from a visit home last year but that he is better now and is working to save for his airfare back home to see what he can do”. Both the police and the NHRC offices in Enugu have asked anyone who knew about the case to come forward and lodge a complaint. Almost three months after this horrific murder, nobody has come to report the case. If nothing is done to investigate the case, this grievous crime will fizzle out. Nobody will be punished. But all advocates should not allow this to happen. According to an informant, no one has come forward to lodge a complaint because most people in the community thought the woman was a witch and the punishment was in order. Others are afraid of the lives an safety. A member of the community who was contacted regarding the case said: “Mgboebuba lili amosu laegbuishi ndu ibe ayi. Ive ogbulu egbu kalikwalu. Shite la eka ada e nwayi (‘Chikwado’ la di e) o kelu igbuko ka eshilu chofuta ive o la eme. Ndu Awgu lo daide juwe ive oji egbushi ndu eka va du ucha, ya shi lo ndu ino e ive ya legbu. Eva ndu o kalaeke igbukwe kaligbukwelu. O gbuagakwalu madu, kalegbukwe tufu adaide. Eva mpam la mmam, okeke kele la nwae nwoke, onyebuchi adae nwayi la nwae dukota la ekwukwo ndu o gbugolu egbu. Oo ndu Awgu jikolu eka kpufute la orie Awgu, megbuo akaje, kpuluihia bia la uhumbele ezi nnae lo tigbuo ye, palu ozue ga gbavuo la ejo ovia du la nduegu ululor. (“Mgboebuba ate witchcraft and was killing our people. The number she killed was a lot. Through the efforts of her daughter (‘Chikwado’ and her husband) whom she was preparing to kill too, that was how it was discovered what she was doing. Awgu people caught her and questioned why she was killing innocent people who have clean hands, she said that her enemies were the ones that she killed. The names of the people she was preparing to kill were numerous. She had killed too many people and was going to kill more before she was caught. My father and mother, Okeke Kele and his son, Onyebuchi, his daughter, and his grandchild were among the names found in the book of the people she had killed. The people of Awgu joined hands to drag her to Orie Awgu marketplace, mocked her, dragged her to her father’s compound in Obugo village, and beat her to death, then they carried her corpse and threw it away in the evil forest at the farm settlement of her husband’s village, Ululor”).
The informant said that the deceased refused to reveal the names of others who were suspected to be in her ‘witch’ group. Hence they killed her. The state police command in Enugu should rise to the occasion and take all necessary measures to investigate the murder of Agatha Mgboebuba Nwankwo from Awgu and bring to justice all those who carried out this horrific crime.