In some of the poorest parts of Nigeria, where evangelical religious fervour is combined with a belief in sorcery and black magic, many thousands of children are being blamed for catastrophes, death and famine - and branded witches by powerful pastors. These children are then abandoned, tortured, starved and murdered - all in the name of Jesus Christ.
This Dispatches Special follows the work of one Englishman, 29-year-old Gary Foxcroft, who has devoted his life to helping these desperate and vulnerable children.
Gary and Sam introduce Dispatches to some of the rescued children who have been through unimaginable horrors, such as Ekemeni, aged 13, who was tied up with chicken wire and starved and beaten for two weeks, and Mary, aged 14, who was burnt with acid before her mother attempted to bury her alive. Other children display the hallmarks of witch-branding - acid burns and machete scars. Uma Eke, aged 17, has been left brain-damaged after having a three-inch nail driven into her skull.
Hospitals refuse to treat children associated with sorcery, so Sam's centre does its best to provide medical aid. As well as the physical scars, the children arrive at the shelter badly traumatised by their experiences, with many of them brain-washed into accepting they are possessed by the devil.
The parents or siblings of children torture them in an attempt to kill them or force confessions from them to admit that they are witches. As
Influential preachers from the more extreme churches brand the children witches or wizards and exploit their desperate parents by charging them exorbitant amounts of money in return for exorcising the spirits. The film features extraordinary access to some of the preachers who openly discuss their work. One preacher who calls himself 'The Bishop,' says he has made a fortune by carrying out 'deliverances' on children. He admits having killed 110 people in the past. Dispatches films him as he administers a mixture of pure alcohol, a substance known as 'African mercury' and his own blood to one child accused of witchcraft.
Exorcism is big business. Preachers can charge as much as a year's salary for an average Nigerian to treat children. They often hold the child captive until the parents can pay up. The Niger Delta area is oil rich - but very few have access to oil wealth; the average life expectancy is around 47.
Since this film was screened, the self-proclaimed Bishop at the centre of the Dispatches programme which revealed the extent of the abuse and torture of children branded as witches in