The organisers of the planned academic conference on witchcraft planned for Nsukka next week are looking for another venue after the University of Nigeria withdrew the approval for the use of its Energy Centre.
The director of the centre wrote conference organisers withdrawing the approval, amidst the opposition by Christian students and the Christian Association of Nigeria against the conference.
The conference, initially scheduled for 28-31 October is the brainchild of the B.I.C Ijomah Centre for Policy and Research and is expected to hold between November 26 and November 27. It is a pure academic exercise, not a real meeting of witches and wizards, the centre said, shocked by the uninformed reaction of Christian students and CAN.
Posters pasted by Christian students on the campus decried the conference. The posters bear the messages: “Say No to the meeting of witches and wizards!!! We are (a) Christian community. Don’t pollute our environment please!” “University of Nigeria belongs to Jesus. So witches and wizards, No way!! No Vacancy!!!” “We plead the blood of Jesus over the University of Nigeria. Hence we reject all forms of witchcraft overtly or covertly in Jesus’ Name, Amen”.
Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, also urged members to pray to avert the conference ever holding.
Chairman of CAN in the South-East zone, Bishop Dr Goddy Okafor is concerned about the conference and has demanded that the programme be called off immediately.
Okafor said, “I call on all Heads of Blocks, State Chairmen and other Stakeholders of Christian Association of Nigeria South-East Zone to take up aggressive prayers against the planned convention of Witches and Wizards slated to hold on November 26 at UNN.
“This convention is not of God and must not hold in Jesus name. Exodus 22:18 says, ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’.
“I hereby direct, all Christian Churches in South East of Nigeria to take up lamentation and pray against this evil movement in all our churches this coming Sunday.
“I also call upon all Christian Campus Fellowship Groups and other Christian Students’ Associations to join in this effort and stand up for JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD against this evil development in South East Of NIGERIA.”
Similarly, the Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in the 17 Southern States, Apostle Dr Joseph Ajujungwa warned the organizers to shelve the conference.
“We the Christian community reject in its entirety this attempt to hand over the UNN to the devil. This kind of thing cannot happen without some spiritual implications and effect and this is why we are saying ‘No’ to it.
“I join in calling on all Christians to hold fervent prayers in order to avert this looming danger. This is nothing but initiation through the back-door, and everything must be done to stop it.
“We urge the authorities of the UNN to avert the wrath of God by calling this conference off. It will not be of any advantage to the people but will end up in bringing calamity,” Ajujungwa cautioned.
In August, Professor Egodi Uchendu, director of the Professor B.I.C Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research had called for scholarly papers on WITCHCRAFT, which is prevalent in many Nigerian communities. The statement noted that all cultures do not share a consistent pattern of witchcraft practice and beliefs.
“In Nigeria, for instance, the practice of witchcraft often intercepts with other concepts like magic, sorcery, esotericism, diabolism and even religion. From an interdisciplinary point of view, this conference seeks to find answers to pertinent questions such as: What is witchcraft? What factors influence witchcraft labelling in various communities? How does the practice of witchcraft affect society?”, the centre said in a post on Facebook account of African Humanities Program.