More on Helen Ukpabio’s Legal Campaign against Supporters of Children Stigmatized as “Witches”

A press release from Leo Igwe, who recently featured on the UK Channel 4 documentary Return to Africa’s Witch Children as a supporter of children who have been stigmatized as witches by evangelists in Nigeria:

Reason, Justice and Human Rights Will Prevail

A Press Statement For Immediate release

I have been informed that Helen Ukpabio of the Liberty Gospel Church in Nigeria has sued me to court. She joined in the suit-the Goverment of Akwa Ibom state, Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police of Cross River State, Sam Ituama, Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network, and Gary Foxcroft of Stepping Stones Nigeria. The case came up for hearing on November 4 2009. It was adjourned to November 17, but the court did not sit. Now the case will come up on December 17 for hearing.

Helen applied to the Federal High Court in Calabar for the enforcement of her fundamental rights. She claimed, among other things,that the conference on Witchcraft and Child Rights, held on July 29 in Calabar – which her members disrupted- and the arrest of her church members on the said date constituted an infringement on their rights to practice their christian religious belief relating to witchcraft. She asked the court to issue perpetual injunctions restraining me and others –

From interfering with their practice of christianity and their deliverance of people with witchcraft spirit.

From holding seminars or workshops denouncing the christian religious belief in witchcraft

From arresting her and her church members etc.

Helen asked the court to order that I, the Akwa Ibom state government, Sam Ituama, CRARN and Gary Foxcroft pay her 200,000,000.000.00(two hundred billion) naira(800. 000 dollars) as damages for unlawful and unconstitutional infringement on her rights to belief in God, Satan, witchcraft, Heaven and Hell fire and for unlawful and unconstitutional detention of her two church members.

Helen used a copy of the welcome address in my bag which her members made away with on July 29 and an article by Dr Olusegun Fakoya among others as exhibits.

…She should be ready to pay damages to thousands of children who have been tortured, traumatized, abused and abandoned as a result of her misguided ministry. Helen should be ready to pay for the damage she has done to many homes and households across Nigeria.

…So, whatever the mischief this vicious woman and her rag tag ministry are planning, I am convinced that at the end of the day, reason, justice and human rights will prevail.

Leo Igwe, Ibadan, Nigeria

Apologies for the couple of snips in there; unfortunately, free speech is curtailed in the UK (see here) and so I have been unable to include passages in which Leo gives his free opinion of Ukpabio’s character and motivations. You can use your imagination, though. Here’s the moment when Ukpabio’s supporters invaded his conference, in July:

Leo previously provided a guest post to this blog here.

16 Responses

  1. That video is as depressing as it is confounding, although, it surprises me little that alleged Christians and persecutors of children can so easily turn to violence, anger and acts of hate.

    Jesus would be proud…

  2. Thanks for following up on this story Bartholomew, is there any way I can get my hands on the full press release?

    Cheers, and keep up the great work!

  3. Drat, Jason beat me to it. What can I do here in the freedom-loving (sort of) USA to help get the word out?

  4. This story shows why the Center for Inquiry’s anti-superstition campaign in Africa is so vital. A belief in witchcraft and other dangerous superstions does as much to retard the progress of African people as cultural imperialism and other problems.

  5. [...] Nigeria, brings us the news that notorious (and popular) witch-hunting mega-pastor Helen Ukpabio is suing a local activist and witch children charity. Why is she suing them? For making Ukpabio look bad when her followers raided a conference on [...]

  6. Hi Bartholomew,

    Do you know if Unveiling The Mysteries Of Witchcraft has ever been distributed in Britain (ie. could one get a copy of it)?

    Cheers!

  7. [...] following is a letter from Leo Igwe in regards to Helen’s [...]

  8. [...] teaching was invaded by her followers, and he was handled roughly; Ukpabio is also suing him on the grounds that attacking her beliefs amounts to an infringement of her rights. Leo also [...]

  9. PRESS STATEMENT

    For immediate release February 4 2010

    Helen Ukpbabio: Court Strikes out Case against Child Rights Campaigners

    Today the Federal High Court in Calabar struck out the case brought against me and other child rights campaigners including the government of Akwa Ibom state by Helen Ukpabio and other members of the Liberty Gospel Church. In November Helen and some of her church members went to court seeking to enforce their rights to believe in God, Satan and witchcraft. They claimed that the seminars and conferences organised in Nigeria by the Nigerian Humanist Movement and other child rights groups to tackle witchcraft related abuses infringed on their rights to spread the gospel. They asked the court to order us to pay them two hundred billion naira(I.3 billion dollars) as damages for unlawful and unconstitutional infringement of their rights.

    For the second, Helen and her lawyers were not in court. So the lawyer leading the defence team, Barrister Madaki asked the court to strike out the case due lack of diligent prosecution. And the court granted his request.

    The striking out of this case is a welcome development. It is a victory for justice, human rights and the rule of law in Nigeria. This decision by the court is a vindication of the child rights campaigners and the great work they are doing rescuing and saving the lives of children abused and abandoned in the name of witchcraft in Nigeria. It is a clear evidence that Helen Ukpabio and her church members have no case.

    They instituted this court action to stop their arrest and prosecution for the attack of July 29 in Calabar.

    Nigerian Humanist Movement and its partner groups will continue to work and campaign to eradicate all forms of human rights abuses in the name of witchcraft.

    Leo Igwe, Ibadan, Nigeria

  10. [...] Flowers and English Nationalismpete on Charlie Flowers and English NationalismLeo Igwe on More on Helen Ukpabio’s Legal Campaign against Supporters of Children Stigmatized as &#82…jeanette johansen on Helen Ukpabio Tells State Governor to “Remember what Happened to Saddam [...]

  11. [...] man who runs it is “a wizard”, she insists), and she has fired off lawsuits in all directions – although one against Leo was dismissed just recently. She has also threatened the life of [...]

  12. [...] she warned Akpabio to “remember what happened to Saddam Hussein”, and she launched a number of lawsuits against those involved in making the documentary (including the narrator). She also denounced [...]

  13. [...] ln other words, Western criticism of her is just anti-African prejudice, but African opposition to her preaching can be dismissed in terms of the Nigerian “419″ stereotype. I’ve blogged a number of times on the attacks she and her supporters have made against CRARN – see here. Oppenheimer notes that she also uses lawyers against her opponents, and I’ve blogged on how she has fired off lawsuits in all directions. [...]

  14. [...] the claim that she harms children. But of course, it’s not as simple as that: Ukpabio has used her influence to cause trouble for a hostel protecting stigmatised children, and children are suffering because [...]

  15. [...] teaching was invaded by her followers, and he was handled roughly; Ukpabio also tried to sue him on the grounds that attacking her beliefs amounts to an infringement of her rights. Leo also [...]

  16. [...] here; the invasion was later praised by another powerful evangelist, Bishop NE Moses. Ukpabio had argued that attempts to oppose labelling children as witches is an attack on her religious freedom, and [...]

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