Opposition to Anti-Child Witchcraft Campaign in Nigeria

The campaign in Nigeria against the stigmatisation of children as witches by certain evangelists is facing some resistance; a few days ago the British Humanist Association reported that Nigerian sceptic Leo Igwe (who wrote a guest post for me in December) had been assaulted at a conference highlighting the problem:

As the anti-witchcraft conference began at around 10.30am…religious protestors dressed in orange raided the venue and began protesting loudly. The exremists were carrying a number of banners with slogans such as, “This protest is organised by The Akwa Ibim Government”, “We give freedom to the witches” and “Stepping Stone is not a registered organisation”.

Leo blames followers of the evangelist Helen Ukpabio for what happened.

Meanwhile, a hostel for children who have been abused and abandoned after being labeled as witches has been raided; the UK Daily Mirror reports:

The headquarters of Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), which works with the British fund Stepping Stones Nigeria, was raided by a group of men claiming to be police officers earlier this month.

CRARN president Sam Itauma, a winner at the recent Amnesty Awards in London, had to escape through the ceiling of his own home adjoining the care centre.

…It has since become apparent that the police were accompanied by a lawyer from Lagos, Gary [Foxcroft, founder of Stepping Stones Nigeria] says.

This is the same lawyer who has been representing Evangelist Helen Ukpabio in the law suits that she has filed against CRARN, Stepping Stones Nigeria and Channel Four since the broadcast of the internationally acclaimed documentary film – Saving Africa’s Witch Children.

Itauma’s wife was arrested, computer equipment was seized, and it is alleged that children were beaten by police when they objected. Ukpabio has stated that Itauma is a wizard, and that Stepping Stones exists simply to gain NGO money. The raid has apparently caused some embarrassment, and state governor Godswill Akpabio has now visited the hostel and announced a substantial donation.

Ukpabio’s followers aren’t too keen on my blog posts on the subject either (in particular here, here, and here), and some wonderfully florid insults have been received (“You are wicked, crooked, crafty, poisonous, and dangerous to women in general”, etc.).

22 Responses

  1. ”You are wicked, crooked, crafty, poisonous, and dangerous to women in general”

    Obviously, someone has mistaken you for Lord Byron.

  2. would be interesting to know if “Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries” has any links to churches with a similar theology in the USA or Europe

  3. [...] to protect the headquarters of the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), which was recently raided by the police - with Ukutt in attendance. CRARN has in recent months gained international [...]

  4. [...] Igwe in August, and how the CRARN home was raided by police, with her lawyer in attendance (blogged here, and Leo provided this blog with a guest post that I was proud to host here). One child interviewed [...]

  5. [...] a previous press release on this ridiculous law-suit here, and on some of here other legal antics here; she has also promised to pursue the makers of the Channel 4 documentaries about her work, [...]

  6. [...] is refering to the event I blogged about here, at which the Nigerian humanist Leo Igwe was assaulted. As was reported at the time: As the [...]

  7. [...] Leo Igwe held a conference on the subject of child witches with CRARN, a mob from her church invaded the venue. Other evangelists have come to her support, too – Bishop N. E. Moses recently made Ukpabio [...]

  8. [...] by Bishop Nnadi E Moses, who took the opportunity to praise Ukpabio’s distruption of a conference held by the Nigerian humanist and activist Leo [...]

  9. [...] police on Ikpe-Itauma, whom she accuses of being a “wizard”. Members of her church also invaded a conference on subject organised by the Nigerian sceptic Leo [...]

  10. [...] of child-witchcraft stigmatisation; the organiser was the Nigerian sceptic Leo Igwe, and he was physically assaulted during the invasion. Moses praises the attack, as his whips up his audience into righteous anger [...]

  11. After the 17th century, witch hunting gradually died down as the influences of the Age of Reason began to take hold on the population.
    This statute was replaced under George II by the Witchcraft Act 1735, marking a complete reversal in attitudes. No longer were people to be hanged for consorting with evil spirits. Rather, a person who pretended to have the power to call up spirits, or foretell the future, or cast spells, or discover the whereabouts of stolen goods was to be punished as a vagrant and a con artist, subject to fines and imprisonment.
    From Wikepedia.

  12. [...] with the result that I have received a number of abusive messages from her followers. She has also tried to have Sam’s hostel shut down, accusing him of being a [...]

  13. [...] church featured, although she avoided an interview request. I mentioned yesterday that Ukpabio  has tried to have the hostel where Mary now lives shut down, accusing its director of being a [...]

  14. [...] (CRARN) and supported by Stepping Stones, and Akpabio’s visit came after the hostel had been raided by police at the behest of evangelist Helen Ukpabio’s lawyer Victor Ukutt (Ukutt, incidently, [...]

  15. [...] and films that children can cause misfortune as witches, and she tried to have the hostel shut down last year. She has denounced San Itauma as a “wizard” who has “turned those children to [...]

  16. [...] here. Leo has many enemies in Nigeria, including the evangelist Helen Ukpabio, who hates Leo for his efforts to end the practice of children being accused of witchcraft.  Ukpabio’s followers have left [...]

  17. [...] have been following this story for some time, and I blogged on the attack on the workshop here; the invasion was later praised by another powerful evangelist, Bishop NE Moses. Ukpabio had argued [...]

  18. [...] religious freedom (she recently lost a legal action on this point). In 2009, she sent her followers to disrupt a local conference on the [...]

  19. [...] pressure from powerful evangelists such as Helen Ukpabio. In 2009, Ukpabio sent her followers to disrupt a conference on the subject organised by Leo, and she has tried (and failed) to have Leo silenced through the [...]

  20. [...] over the existence of child-witches; as well as deploying lawfare, she has sent church members to disrupt a conference on the problem of child-witch stigmatisation, and attempted to shut down a hostel for [...]

  21. […] 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 […]

  22. […] 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 […]

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