Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja The Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council has thrown its weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to consult widely before Nigeria signs the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. President Buhari had, in March, cancelled a trip to Kigali, Rwanda, where an extra-ordinary summit of African Union was scheduled to sign the agreement….
ω Three brothers await hangmen for killing 65-year-old woman accused of witchcraft
ω Their 76-year-old mum pleads for mercy
From GYANG BERE, Jos
For four and half years, 76-year-old Ngo Lyop Davou of Kwogo village in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State had lived a nightmare. With three of her five sons standing trial for murder, the Davou matriarch, who lost her husband 22 years ago, knew the horror staring her in the face: another cycle of tragedy that could whisk away her three sons to untimely death. This damning reality was a source of anxiety every waking moment of her life since 2012.
Though the wheel of justice turned slowly, the day of reckoning came at last. And for Ma Davou, fate held no sympathy. Her worst fear came to pass. The lot that fell on her was the worst tragedy that could ever befall a woman. The court on May 22, 2017 condemned her three sons to death for the 2012 murder of 65-year-old Mama Lyop Pam whom they lynched for alleged witchcraft.
Of the five men arrested for the murder, three were Davou siblings––Pam, the eldest and his immediate younger brother, Yohanna and John, the family’s second to the last child––while the remaining two, James Badung and Pam Dalyop, were their close relations. The Davou 3 allegedly accused 65-year-old Mama Lyop Pam of killing Yohanna’s nine-year-old daughter, Rachel. The men subsequently beat her to death on the night of December 23, 2012.
Arrested and arraigned on a two-count charge of criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide before High Court 7, Jos, the men had been remanded in prison since 2012 until the court presided over by Justice Christine Dabup on May 22, 2017, passed the death sentence on them.
The judge’s pronouncement turned the courtroom into a theatre of sorrow and lamentation as the condemned men’s spouses and relatives wailed uncontrollably seeing their men being escorted back to the prison, and surely on their way to the gallows.
The fateful night of December 23
The men’s journey to doom started on the night of December 23, 2012, when one Victoria Boyi informed Yohanna Davou (whose daughter, Rachael, had been gravely ill) that a certain Mama Lyop Pam bewitched the child and intended to kill her.
Victoria Boyi reportedly showed up at the family’s residence at 7pm, urging that the child be released to her to ‘untie’ her from the bonds of a coven of witches. She got the consent of the parents, put the child on her back and made her way to the house of Mama Lyop Pam, a few metres away, supposedly for a supernatural session that would heal the child.
The episode generated tension and attracted crowd from all nooks and crannies of the hilly community who waited anxiously outside the family compound for the result of the supposed magic healing. Soon after, Boyi came out, claiming she was going to the toilet, leaving the child and Mama Lyop Pam locked inside the room.
Thereafter, the event took a tragic turn. Upon her return, Boyi found Rachel Yohanna dead in the room. For the Davou family, it was a forgone conclusion that “the witch” Mama Lyop Pam killed the child.
The situation went out of control as the three Davou brothers, including two of their relations, descended on the aged woman, dragged her out into the open and recklessly beat her with sticks. In the melee, one of the men struck her a mortal blow with a cutlass.
The victim’s son who attempted to save his mother got the beating of his life and also struck with the cutlass, and subsequently watched helplessly his mother being clubbed to death in the most gruesome manner.
The incident, reported to the village head of Kwago, subsequently got to the Riyom Police Division. The culprits were all arrested and moved to the State Command headquarters where they were charged to court.
The Davou dossier
Waiting for the hangman’s noose, that is the fate of the three brothers and their two relatives. After 53 nerve-wracking months in remand, whatever miracle they had been hoping was shattered by the death sentence of May 22, which made it clear to them, they are not retuning home to their family, neither would their lives get normal again.
On close scrutiny, the Davou brothers are a basket case of a pathetic family. Their lives have a common thread. Pam Davou, the eldest son in the family, was a dropout of the LEA Primary School Hoss. He was drafted into farming early in his life and he grew to be a farmer. He is married and has five children.
Yohanna Davou is not any different. At an early age too, his late father initiated him into farming, while he was still attending LEA Primary School Hoss. Like his elder brother, he also did not finish primary school and he ended up a farmer. Yohanna, who is a principal actor in the saga, had five children including, Rachel, the child whose death triggered the tragic episode. He was building his house when the saga started. The building had since collapsed while he languished in detention.
John Davou, the youngest, is not married, but he’s also a farmer.
The three men were all born and brought up in Kwogo village. When they lost their father to illness 22 years ago, each of them had been struggling for survival.
The third and last sons of the family were not at home during the episode, otherwise, they also would probably have been implicated in the killing.
Sorrow of motherhood
Our correspondent who visited the village exactly one week after the judgment found a tensed community where women, children and youths were filled with anxiety and fear, and trying to come to terms with the frightening reality that awaits the condemned men who are their parents, brothers and spouses.
The 76-year-old mother of the three brothers, a tearful old woman who walked with the aid of a walking stick, was petrified each time a stranger is noticed in the village. Ma Davou who currently lives in perpetual fear and anguish views strangers as harbingers of bad news, of her children’s execution.
“Since I was informed about the death penalty on my children, life has been a nightmare in the family, my heart beats once I see a stranger. This is news I pray not to hear until my death,” she told Saturday Sun. “How can my children be killed in that manner?” asked the matriarch.
She continued: “I was not at home when the incident happened, but I have been battling with the reality that my three children committed that crime. I know they have never attempted to kill anybody. I do not have anything to say. But praying for God’s divine intervention. I can’t say they were accused falsely, but I am begging government to have mercy on me.” The aged woman lamented that she had no strength to return to the farm; on those sons she depended for survival.
For Chundung Yohanna-Davou, the saga was a double tragedy. She already lost her daughter to the dark drama. Now, the prospect of widowhood stared her in the face. With eyes spilling tears, she relived the horror of that night, insisting she couldn’t remember if her husband went back to beat the aged woman after taking their child’s corpse home.
“I don’t know where to start, I have five children and how to feed them without their father is my greatest concern,” she began, “I am pleading with the government to release them. I have lost my daughter, now my husband is to be killed with his brothers. If I know this issue was going to take this dimension, I wouldn’t have released Rachel that night.”
Next course of action
Plateau State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Jonathan Mawuyai, is not swayed by sentiment. The law, according to him, is supreme. As long as a competent court has tried the suspects and found them guilty, he believed the accused would have to face the death penalty, irrespective of whether they are all of one family or not.
“We don’t have anything to do, except if the judgment is overturned by the Appeal Court. They can even go all the way to the Supreme Court if they want, but as far as the law is concerned, they must pay the penalty,” he said.
Villagers who spoke to Saturday Sun alleged that several women in the village had previously accused Mama Lyop Pam of witchcraft and some children confessed she had bewitched them.
To this, Barrister Mawuyai replied: “We must warn those who think they can take the law into their hands. The issue of witchcraft is something that cannot be established by scientific evidence, therefore, people must be careful, because they can kill an innocent person thinking he or she is a witch.”