How to Sue a Witch and secure Judgment in Nigeria By Felix Onofua Esq.

BACKGROUND:

Its no longer news that Africa is known and attributed to witchcraft. At one point in Benin city, Edo state Nigeria, witches almost hosted an international witchcraft summit. Have you ever inquired, if it was an offense to openly declare your self as a witch? Or if it’s illegal to be endue with the power of witchcraft? Ignorance of the law will not avail you in the court of law. See the Latin maxim: lgnorantia legis neminem excusat

Any time there is an open confession  or a witch is apprehended, there is always a hue and cry for jungle justice. In  such circumstances, we often hear words like “kill her ! Kill her! She must be put to death! that witch must dieee!!!.

Unfortunately, we forget so soon that the so called “witch” is a citizen of Nigeria and entitled to the fundamental rights enshrined in chapter IV of the 1999 constitution as amended 2018 and thus must not be subjected to jungle justice.

Notwithstanding, have you ever be molested or attacked by a witch? If your answer is in the affirmative, then this article will assist  you in knowing where and how to bring them to book in the Law court in Nigeria.

DEFINITION:

A witch is defined by Oxford Advanced American Dictionary as “a woman who is believed to have magic powers, especially to do evil things. In stories, she usually wears a black, pointed hat and flies on a broomstick.”

Similarly, the Merriam Webster dictionary defines a witch as “one that is credited with usually malignant supernatural powers.”

PRINCIPLE:

The law is trite that one can neither sue nor secure conviction against a person for an offense which is not contained in a written law. See Aoko. V. Fagbemi [1961] ANLR 400.

Section 216 (a) of the Penal code law of Northern Nigeria provides:

“whoever by his statement or actions represents himself to be a witch or to have the power of witchcraft;… shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine or with both.”

PROPER VENUE:

Any Magistrate court, Area court and Upper Area Court in the northern part of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory is a proper venue for commencing an action against a witch in that the penal code is applicable only in this region as opposed to the Southern, Western and Easter part of Nigeria where criminal code is in operation.

I am of the opinion that lack of jurisdiction will not avail an accused person ( witch) who confessed in other part of the country where witchcraft is not an offence but admit his mischievous actions were carried out against the complainant in the geographical location ( Northern Nigeria ) where it is deemed as an offence.

 

 

MODE OF COMMENCEMENT:

Just like any other criminal action in the northern part of Nigeria, an action against a witch can be instituted by :

(a) First Information Report; or

(b) Direct Criminal Complaint  ( This second mode is applicable in other northern part of Nigeria except the FCT)

 

HOW TO SECURE JUDGMENT AGAINST A WITCH:

#1. Preparation.

Knowing fully well you are prosecuting a witch, you must get ready for counter -attack from the colleagues of the witch ( Co-witches)… You must prepare both spiritually (prayer & fasting) and legally ( be armed with the relevant sessions of the 1999 constitution as amended 2018, Evidence Act 2011, Penal Code, ACJA/ ACJL or CPC depending on the jurisdiction and your credible witness(es) if any.

#2. Presentation.

Your evidence or submission must be conducted logically and convincingly, bearing in mind that the burden of proof lies on you. Therefore, ensure you prove your case beyond reasonable doubt taking into consideration the weight of evidence in your disposal as failure to establish the guilt of the witch would lead to his or her acquittal. See Section 139 of the Evidence Act 2011 and FRN v. Mohammed YARO & Anor (2012) 3 iLAW/SC.283/2011

In the event of proving your case via circumstantial evidence, same must therefore be unequivocal  and must have probative value. This is because, the law is trite, that where the circumstantial evidence is not conclusive or is capable of having two interpretations of showing the innocence of the accused and at the same time of his guilt. In such situation, the court must cast benefit of doubt in his favour to exonerate and acquit him. See STATE vs K Rs1957)s FSC 83; LORI v STATE (1980)11 SC 81; IJIOFOR v STATE (2001)3 NWLR (pt.690)55 and KINGSLEY OMOREGIE VS. THE STATE (SC. 334/2012)[2017] NGSC 20 (2 JUNE 2017)

It is worthy of note that not until witches in Africa are brought to book by constitutional means, the rate of witchcraft activities and “jungle justice” would abound. Why don’t you explore this innovation and be the first to institute an action against that ” witch” in the court.

For more info or questions, feel free to call me on 08167951106 or via f.e.onofua@gmail.com

 

 

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