My brainwashed child may kill me one day

Kano - A group of women in northern Nigeria have begun three days of fasting and prayer to protect themselves from ritual murder at the hands of their own children.

The women are spooked by a rash of killings by children who were lured into black magic cults and convinced to kill their parents, Yusuf Israel, spokesperson for the northern state of Taraba, said on Tuesday.

"The women, under the leadership of the wife of the state governor, Priscilla Nyame, have begun three days of fasting and prayers for divine intervention against the new trend of ritual killings," he said in an interview.

"What is more disturbing is the fact that the victims of these children are invariably their parents, whom they are ordered to kill by the cult they belong to," he added.

"These children are initiated into ritual societies through gifts, usually edible things. Once they eat, they become initiated," Israel said. Both Muslim and Christian women were taking part in the prayers.

Habila Audu, a father of two initiated children, told the gathering he was laid low in bed for six weeks by his two daughters who had cast a spell on him.

He claimed he escaped death only when one of his daughters rebelled against her cult.

"Habila owes his life to the disagreement between the daughters. While one wanted to ritually drain his blood, the other insisted that he shouldn't be killed," Israel said.

"The trend is becoming rampant and the women felt it is only God who can counter this diabolical development because rituals can best be fought with prayers," he said.

Although the vast majority of Nigeria's 126 million population publicly profess either the Christian or Islamic faiths, traditional beliefs in witchcraft and juju persist in many areas.

Dozens of murders are said to be committed every year by people under the influence of cults.