Mermaid infestation? Who you gonna call?
WHY, Helen Ukpabio, of course.
This grotesque Pentecostal preacher who claims to have the power to protect people from “wizards”, “witches”, and, more bizarrely, “mermaids”, would be a figure of fun but for the fact that she has proved a real danger children over the years and ought never have been allowed into the UK this month, activists say.
They called on the authorities to deport Helen Ukpabio, a woman who wears clownish clothes and headgear and who calls herself a “Lady Apostle”. This Christian charlatan is the founder of the controversial Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries in Nigeria, which has 150 branches in Africa and Europe.
Ukpabio’s “speciality” is “liberating” victims of the black arts in “deliverance sessions” and has been holding meetings in London with people who believe she has power to exorcise demons.
Said Gary Foxcroft, Executive Director of the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network.
There have been numerous cases of children in the UK being tortured and sometimes killed due to the beliefs that Helen Ukpabio espouses.
As far back as 2009, Online Nigeria described her as:
Astute and ruthless in her determination to ensure her comfort that even when presented with the outrageous fallouts of her mission she remains nonplussed and unrepentant. It is an indication of this that to date, Ms Ukpabio has not apologised for the agonies that she has caused to thousands of children in Nigeria and elsewhere for stigmatising them as witches.
Foxcroft called on Home Affairs Minister Theresa May to deport Ukpabio immediately, adding:
Whilst the government has moved swiftly to block entry to the UK for Islamic preachers whose presence is harmful to the public good, there have been no cases of Christian pastors facing such measures.
Ukpabio advises parents:
If a child under the age of two screams in the night and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan.
In recent years, an 8-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy were tortured and killed by guardians or relatives who said Satan had entered their bodies, though in these instances there is no reported links to Ukpabio.
During the last ten years, British police have investigated 81 cases of African children being abused, tortured and sometimes killed after treatment by so-called spiritual mediums.
According to the Bartholomew Notes blog, the Evangelical Alliance as long ago as 2007 issued a statement that condemned accusing a child of witchcraft as “abusive, immoral, and unbiblical”, and that highlighted efforts by the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance to ensure the issue was addressed within black-majority churches. However, there are many small African churches operating in the UK, and journalists have uncovered a few cases where little-known pastors from Nigeria and Congo continue to identify children as witches.
Ukpabio’s current visit to the UK is low-key, and probably deliberately so: after she came to wide attention in 2008 following the broadcast of the documentary Saving Africa’s Witch Children, she claimed that a mob had “almost killed” her when she visited London shortly afterwards. In 2010 she cancelled a planned visit to a Liberty Gospel franchise in Houston following bad publicity.
As it was, her latest London venue had to be hastily rearranged after her original booking at the Albany in Deptford was cancelled; the theatre has issued a statement:
We only cancel bookings in very exceptional circumstances. In this instance we were not given full information about the nature of the booking by the booker, which is at odds with our terms and conditions and ethical policies as an organisation.
Leo Igwe, who has been at the forefront of efforts over the years to expose this woman as a dangerous fraud, said this week:
We must commend the person(s) who helped draw the attention of the owners of Albany to the true nature of the program. Authorities in the UK and other Western countries must be on alert. African witch hunting pastors and churches are targeting African diasporic communities. They are seeking to roll back the gains of enlightenment under the pretext of re-evangelising the West.
Helen Ukpabio is desperate to extend her witch hunting ministry to Europe and America. She wants to establish international branches of her Liberty Gospel Church to enhance its clout and credibility.
Abuses related to witchcraft cannot stop if the authorities continue to allow African ‘evangelical witchdoctors’ into the UK to recharge the witchcraft narratives in black communities. Obviously witch hunters like Helen Ukpabio are not acting alone. They have individuals in African diasporic communities who, for some reasons, are facilitating these events – booking venues, printing and circulating posters, and mobilising for the event and serving as contact persons.
UK authorities should monitor the activities such persons as part of the efforts to stamp out witchcraft related abuse in the country. They should not fold their arms and allow another Victoria Climbe or Kristy Bamu to happen.
Ukpabio’s publicity for her London visit did not focus on child-witches; instead, the three-day event (10-12 April) was billed as a “Season for Disconnections from All Spiritual Attacks”, and her flier asks:
Are you under:
Ancestral spirit attack?
Mermaid spirit attack?
Bartholomew pointed out:
It should also be remembered that Ukpabio has actively obstructed efforts to protect children: in 2009, she orchestrated a raid on a hostel for children who have been abandoned due to child-witch stigmatisation, and when the Governor of Akwa Ibom intervened she warned him to “remember what happened to Saddam Hussein”. Ukpabio also sent thugs to disrupt a conference on the subject of child witches organised by the Nigerian sceptic Leo Igwe, and in 2010 her lawyer left a comment on this blog expressing glee that Leo’s father had come to harm due to Leo’s anti-corruption campaigning.