In November 1978 a witch-purge crusade led by Edem Edet Akpan (alias Akpan Ekwong) took place among the Ibibio people of the Cross River State in Nigeria. Edem claimed that all the evils which afflicted the Ibibio were attributable to the malevolent forces of witches and that he possessed supernatural powers to detect witches. Assisted by a few lieutenants, Edem began his crusade to eradicate witches and witchcraft. He would send messengers to a village to inform its residents that on a certain day of the week all were to assemble at the public square. Members of the village were forbidden to leave, and letters were sent out to those who were already out to return.
On the appointed day Edem or one of his lieutenants would arrive and go around picking out those he believed were witches. The suspects had their hands tied together and red pepper (which the villagers referred to as powder) sprayed all over their bodies and into their eyes, ears, and noses. In addition, large quantities of black ants were poured on the suspected witches. Under agonizing pain, they were asked to confess all those they had killed, those whose money or other property they had bewitched, their rank in the witch society, and so on. They were untied after they confessed. There were others, not selected by the crusaders, who voluntarily went to the village council to confess that they were witches and paid the fine stipulated for them. In this way they were able to avoid the ordeal meted out to those accused of witchcraft by the crusaders.