New York Times Profiles Child-Witchfinder Helen Ukpabio

The New York Times carries an article by Mark Oppenheimer about Apostle Helen Ukpabio, the Nigerian Pentecostal minister at the centre of the child-witchcraft hysteria in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. The British Channel 4 documentary Saving Africa’s Witch Children is due to air in the USA on Wednesday (on HBO2) – and as luck would have it, Ukpabio was in Houston last week, leading a “Worship Warfare” event at a Pentecostal church (a “demonstration of the power of GOD to save, Heal and Deliver from all demonic operations”).

Ukpabio appears to have been as blustering as ever, and she tried to make a distinction between her sermons and her witch-themed horror films, such as End of the Wicked:

“Do you think Harry Potter is real?” Ms. Ukpabio asked me angrily, in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express where she was staying. “It is only because I am African,” she said, that people who understand that J. K. Rowling writes fiction would take literally Ms. Ukpabio’s filmic depictions of possessed children, gathering by moonlight to devour human flesh.

Oppenheimer, however, observes that

“Saving Africa’s Witch Children” makes clear that many rural Nigerians do take her film seriously. And in her sermons, Ms. Ukpabio is emphatic that children can be possessed, and that with her God-given “powers of discernment,” she can spot such a child.

He also quotes from her book Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft:

if a child under the age of 2 screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan

Ukpabio also railed against a school which gives shelter to abandoned children stigmatised as witches:

The Children’s Rights and Rehabilitation Network, a school for abandoned children run by Sam Itauma and featured in Mr. [Gary] Foxcroft’s documentary, is “a 419 scam,” Ms. Ukpabio said, referring to the section in Nigeria’s criminal code that deals with fraud.

…The school “does not understand demonic possession,” she said. “If they understood, they would take the children to Liberty Gospel.

“We would deliver them!”

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.

In Houston, Ukpabio was hosted by Glorious Praise Ministries, which is led by Pastor Jonathan A. David (also known as Jonathan Agba). According to his biography, David was “officially ordained on 7th of April, 2002 by the House of Grace Ministries Incorporated, Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, after several years of serving and training under the same ministry”. There are of course innumerable Pentecostal organisations in Nigeria, but this is perhaps the same the Royal House of Grace International Church (also sometimes refered to as “Royal House of Grace Ministries”). The leader of this denomination is David Zilly-Aggrey and, like Ukpabio,  he a leading figure in the Pentecostal Association of Nigeria. However, unlike her, he has spoken against an excessive interest in demons and witches.

Oppenheimer adds that

 Last August, when she had herself consecrated Christendom’s first “lady apostle,” Nigerian politicians and Nollywood actors attended the ceremony.

I blogged on that event here – she was consecrated 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 Igwe.

(Hat tip: Bulldada Newsblog)

33 Responses

  1. [...] major part of the industry that is benefiting from the vilifying and abuse of innocent children. Ukpabio defends herself by saying that Western criticism is anti-African prejudice, while African …. Yet if she truly believed that organizations like Stepping Stones Nigeria were only a [...]

  2. A Nigerian Witch –Hunter Indicts Herself

    This was what I concluded to be the suitable title for Mark Oppenheimer’s article, On a Visit to the US., a Nigerian Witch-Hunter Explains Herself published in the New York Times of May 22 2010.
    (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/22/us/22beliefs.html)
    I also thought that the piece would have been titled the ‘The Confessions of a Penticostal Charlatan’. But I think the caption, ‘A Nigerian Witch Hunter Indicts Herself’ is more appropriate. Because Helen Ukpabio at last admitted that she was part of the problem of witchcraft related abuses in Nigeria. The article confirmed the lies, deceit, misinformation, misrepresentation, conflicting and contradictory pronouncements which this dim-witted lady apostle and her ministry have been spreading in Nigeria.
    When Helen was asked about her films and publications on witchcraft, she replied, “Do you think Harry Potter is real?” Just imagine that. So Helen was comparing her junk publications with Harry Potter? Alright let’s assume that Helen Ukpabio is the J K Rowling of Africa. So is she now saying that her publications and teachings about witchcraft are fiction?. That is interesting. But Helen does not treat her claims of demonic possession and deliverance from witchcraft as fiction. She treats them as facts. Helen Ukpabio claims to have power to discern the spirit of witchcraft and to deliver those possessed by the malevolent spirit. She organizes witchcraft deliverance sessions where alleged witches mainly children are subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in the name of exorcism.
    Ms Ukpabio claims to be a former witch who was initiated when she was a member of a local religious sect called The Brotherhood of Cross and Star(also known as Olumba Olumba Obu).
    So is that claim fictitious too? I mean, if Helen’s witchcraft ministry is an exercise in fantasy, she should tell her church members so and stop decieving them-stop misleading them and other guillible people across Nigeria.
    Obviously Helen made reference to Harry Potter just to fend off criticism from the American journalist and to make it appear as if her penticostal scheme was innocous. But it was all in vain. Helen ended up indicting herself. Any intelligent reader could see through her lies and desperate attempts to misinform the world and justify her witch hunt. For instance when asked how she knew that the film, Saving Africa’s Witch Children’ exaggerated the problem of abandonment of children in Africa, she said, ‘Because I am an African’. And that ‘in Africa, family ties are too strong to have a child on the streets”. This is obviously untrue. In Africa, family ties have weakened due to poverty, irresponsible parent hood, ignorance, disease, wars and conflicts, religious fanaticism, superstition and irrationalism.
    And it is the likes of Helen Ukpabio who through their misguided ministries and ministrations, are tearing apart African families and communities. It is not uncommon to see children roaming the streets even in Calabar where Helen’s church is based. The problem of street children prevails in Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Malawi, Swaziland, Congo DRC. etc Many of these children were actally abandoned by their families -who could not afford to cater for them-for being possessed by demons or the spirit of witchcraft.
    Ms Ukpabio called for the closure of the school ran by the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network. She said that the school project was a scam and that the funds raised to help the children were being used to blackmail. I think it is Helen’s Liberty Gospel Church that is a scam and therefore should be shut down. Because Helen uses the Liberty Gospel Church to spread lies, fiction and nonsense, perpetrate witchcraft related abuses, and extort money from guillible people who come for deliverance.
    Helen was not ashame to say-in this 21st century- that children alleged to be witches be brought to her church for deliverance. I urge the international community to rise against this shameless witch hunter and stop her Now.

    • You focus on twisting the truth about the child abuse while pointing fingers at Helen. It is not only an insult to her but it is an insult to the Goverment of Nigeria. It impiies that Nigeria government does not have laws to take care of their children. Witchcraft,Voodoo Santeria is a religion for many. it is unfortunate that the media when partial about a particular situation will try to destroy a person with the twisted truth(lies).You must report TRUTH!! The WHOLE truth.
      Maybe all of you need to do some research on American Deliverance Ministries Pastors that are black and also white, and while you are at it research witchcraft/voodoo and Santeria in America so you can deal with Helen from an informed perspective.
      As of now i must say to all of you writing and commenting against her you are very uninformed. Not only are you uninformed but you are twisting partial truths also. I have two grandchildren under age 6 their Mother is a practicing witch she has trained my grandchildren how to operate in witchcraft. They are not Africans they are born bred Americans with no ties to Africa. So if they exist here they exist there in Africa. Remember parents teach their children what they believe. Helen is getting the negative publicity because she is wreaking havoc in the kingdom of darkness. Witchcraft activity is all over the USA. . Let me see you do a documentary on COLBY MEMORIAL TEMPLE on Stevens Street in Cassadaga Florida, and the children associated with that group.. Just think about that for a moment. If the people operating in many of these witchcraft cults are parents and they have children do you think they will teach their children witchcraft? Of course they will!! so maybe you want to do an HBO special on deliverance ministries in America and ask many of the leaders about their views on witchcraft activity and demonic possession specifically focused on is it possible for children to be demon possessed. The results will be astounding. also go to places like Cassadaga, new Orleans Miami Florida do some real research then report what you find. Don’t cover up the activities in America and try to expose the activities in other nations. It is not good because truth always prevails even though the media try to suppress truth.
      When you have completed your research and concluded your findings then talk to the world about how ludicrous Helen’s beliefs are!!

  3. [...] Comments Leo Igwe on New York Times Profiles Child-Witchfinder Helen UkpabioMatt on Nadine Dorries Explains Why She Deleted Blog: Cites “Police Advice” over [...]

  4. How do we allow such trash to enter the US? Its obvious her practices clearly foster and promote child abuse.

    • Unfortunately, until she commits an actual crime, there’s not much the authorities can do except wait to see if she outstays her visa.

      And frankly, I think it’s better that she preach her drivel in the U.S., where people can see it for what it is, than return to Nigeria and continue to prey on those poor innocent children and their families.

      Apparently Ukpabio forgets that the Satanic Panic that swept through the U.S. is still a fairly recent phenomenon, and that the dire consequences of heeding false accusations of Satanism are still fresh in our minds over here.

      Another interesting thought: what use would an incarnation of pure evil have for an infant or toddler? We’re talking about children who can barely walk or talk and have pretty much no fine motor control. What acts of evil could an infant possibly accomplish better than an adult?

      • “….until she commits an actual crime….” Calling 2 year olds who cry “demon-possessed” and then exorcizing 2 year olds’ “demons” is “an actual crime.” It’s called CHILD ABUSE. Period.

  5. [...] Mark Oppenheimer referred to the ‘’Atheist group’’ the likes of Leo Igwe, Gary Foxcroft, Richard Bartholomew (Also a lecturer in Japan), who are using ‘’African Child Witchcratf’’ as an NGO to push [...]

  6. [...] Mark Oppenheimer referred to the ‘’Atheist group’’ the likes of Leo Igwe, Gary Foxcroft, Richard Bartholomew (Also a lecturer in Japan), who are using ‘’African Child Witchcratf’’ as an NGO to push [...]

  7. [...] is not what the world is painting her – Her advise to Mark  Oppenheimer,  Gary Foxcroft,  Richard Bartholomew, Marvin, Itauma and a host of others is that “GOD DO EXIST”and they cannot stop [...]

  8. you dont have ur facts right…Royal house of grace international church is never known, or was never known as Royal house of grace ministires….Also Royal house of grace has no connection with house of grace…..this is how rumors are birthed….

    make sure you have ur facts right before spreading ur bais….not everythings is as easy as sicence has made it for you.

  9. ALL OF YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES, THERE’S NOTING YOU WILL WRITE HERE THAT WILL CHANGE OUR BELIEVE NOR SHAKE OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH BECAUSE WE ALREADY KNOW THAT THE ANTI CHRIST LIKE YOU WILL ARISE AND FIGHT SERIOUSLY WITH THE WORK OF GOD THE WAY YOU ARE DOING TODAY,SO I AM NOT MOVED BY YOUR WRITE UPS,YOU PEOPLE ARE FOOLS AND WILL ALWAYS BE FOOLS,I CANT SEE PROFESSIONALISM IN I ALL YOUR SCAM,YOU PEOPLE ARE EDUCATED ILLITERATES,YOUR EDUCATION IS WASTED.GO AND FORM MORE NGO’s AND GROUPS TO FIGHT HELEN UKPABIO,ONE INDIVIDUAL,A WOMAN FOR THAT MATTER,LETS SEE WHO WILL SURRENDER, SHAME TO YOU MARK OPPENHEIMER,GARRY FOXCRFT,RICHARD BARTHOLOMEW,SAM ATAOMALEO IGWE,OLUSEGUN FAKOYA AND ALL YOUR GROUP HAVE FAILD.

    • SHAME TO YOU MARK OPPENHEIMER,GARRY FOXCRFT,RICHARD BARTHOLOMEW,SAM ATAOMALEO IGWE,OLUSEGUN FAKOYA

      Aha, flattery…

    • Wow–actual rabid foam, frothing up in the form of all-caps text. It’s astonishing to see such pronounced madness so naked and incandescent. Just flat out, full tilt, unhinged and deranged. Amazing.

  10. These group are just hating Lady Apostle Helen Ukpabio,in vain,she has done so much for this society to be easily wiped away because of this fake scam around the internet,i will never give in,Through her God has healed my family and delivered me from satanic operation. HELEN UKPABIO,you will live long come what may your ministry will go from strength to strength.

  11. Leo igwe said that helen’s publication are junk publication, can u imagine, some body that has never written any book in his life nor have produced any movie in his live is calling some body ‘s publication junk;; wonders shall never end,i idvice you LEO IGWE to at least try and produce a film of maybe 10 min,i beg of you please,,,,,,you all are just insane,that’s just what i know,you will noon be condemned to death for keeling a child.we know it all,i await the day you will be condemned.

    • Once again, I am astounded by the incoherent gibbering that is emitted in these attempts to support Ms. Ukpabio. Two in a row, right there. Fuming and venomous, but comically rambling and ungrammatical, these textual rants stun me with the realization that there are grown adults so disconnected from reality. Can Nigeria actually contain a substantial number of such lunatics? I guess it would explain the place’s poverty and social breakdown.

  12. It is obvious that Helen Ukpabio’s brain-washed fanatics are up in arms on this website. The Mark Oppenheimer article had caused consternation in their camp. In their foolishness, they failed to see the ridiculousness of their way. No matter how blinded they may be, the fact remains that Helen Ukpabio is the biggest scammer. If, indeed, there is any hell, she would be the first candidate in. For her ruthlessness and her insincerity. For leading the gullible (like all those fools writing junks on this site) astray. And for her lack of remorse even in the face of superior argument pointing out the errors of her ways. Something is clear; you can fool some people some time, but not all people all the time (apologies to Robert Nesta Marley).

    The Ukpabio bandwagon is still in existence simply because of the type of country Nigeria is. I keep on saying it, in decent societies, her type belong to the four walls of a penitentiary with the keys thrown deep into the ocean. Bigoted, useless charlatan. She is of no use to the human race.

  13. [...] referred to the ‘’Atheist group’’ the likes of Leo Igwe, Gary Foxcroft, Olusegun Fakoya,  Richard Bartholomew (Also a lecturer in Japan), who are using ‘’African Child Witchcratf’’ as an NGO to push [...]

  14. [...] Latest Child Witch Scam… Mike Oppenheimer | ATHEISM AND THE CHILD WITCH SCAM on New York Times Profiles Child-Witchfinder Helen UkpabioJim on Mosab Hassan Yousef UpdateJim on Mosab Hassan [...]

  15. [...] want to ask Gary Foxcroft, Leo Igwe, Fake (Dr) Olusegun Fakoya, Richard Bartholomew – which church are you worshiping with and when last did you go to [...]

  16. [...] thousand (3000) in number are very angry with the Atheists group and their Agents – the likes of Richard Bartholomew, Mark Oppenheimer, Rachel Oppenheimer, Leo Igwe, Diana S. Bartholomew, and the deadliest conman of [...]

  17. [...] June 15th at 5pm,  Richard Bartholomew a renown Atheist poured out his frustration on Gaboeski Integrated Services- revealing his petit [...]

  18. Well as a Nigerian living currently in Nigeria my comment is as simple as this, she beleived herself to be an authority in understanding African child upbringing and probably might have taken part in such an evil practices,
    One thing stands clear, one cannot stay aloof to have a taste of a soup.

  19. The likes of MARK OPPENHEIMER,GARRY FOXCRFT,RICHARD BARTHOLOMEW,SAM ATAOMALEO IGWE,OLUSEGUN FAKOYA are just wasting their hard earn knowledge to venture into something that is not fruitful. I am a beneficiary of Helen Ukpabio’s ministration. I am a long standing member of the Ministry. I am a resident of calabar where the headquarters of the church is located and it we that can tell the truth. Not those outsiders that just want to grap money from their admirers the wrong way. Helen has never hurt a child nor adult during deliverance that is done opendly nor in the councelling that is also done opendly. She is a minister called by God so, stop saying what you do not know. I challenge you to come to Calabar and get first hand information.

  20. Bravity in totality is wat i see in Apst. Helen. She ‘s worthy of recomendation. Some other unrepentant ones are hiding under their shells perpetrating their evil I realy hope to meet her sumday.

  21. We are not surprise of your deeds. The bible had already informed us that people like you will rise up to attack the church so; we are not shaken by your deeds. Who are you to touch the Lords anointed and go free without incurring curses upon yourself? The iniquity of the father shall be visited upon the children’s children for many generations; do you want this to be your portion? If no, then stop trading on dangerous grounds. Helen Ukpabio is a woman of God, preacher of righteousness, mother of children etc. Can,t you see that you are acting on error? Why have you not asked such questions as; where does she bury the corpses after brutally or slowly murdering her victim (Children)? Or why has she not been apprehended by civil authorities for killing and maltreating children? It is very difficult for a Nigerian to deceive a true Nigerian but very very easy for them to deceive white men and that is what Sam Ita-uma and co are doing to you. These people have succeeded in luring money out from your pocket. Nigerians are not stupid so, stop swallowing tablet on behalf of a sick man or indulge in crying more than the bereaved.

  22. All i hv 2 say is dat as many dat raise against her are wishes b/c here in america there are child horo films dat are wost dan helen’s film.

  23. Helen Ukpabio is the devil and you are devils for inviting her.

    You are the servant of Satan.

    Shame on you, supporting a woman who profits by harming innocent children.

    YOU who follow her are devils, you are not real Christians.

    Jesus would never hurt, torture or burn a child.

  24. This woman is sick. I just watched the biography on HBO Saving The Witch Children of Africa. As many kids that are getting abandoned and tortured because of her teachings she needs to be locked up and tortured. She may not be physically abusing these children, but she is brain washing people for profit, and these poor children are paying a horrible price for it. Her own people! She needs to be punished by her government for what she’s doing.

  25. [...] Visited Liberia in 2002Adrian Morgan on Police Confirm Breivik Visited Liberia in 2002Coxhere on New York Times Profiles Child-Witchfinder Helen UkpabioRichard Bartholomew on EDL Leader Discusses AttackRichard Bartholomew on Christian Zionist [...]

  26. [...] tells Oduah that child-witchcraft did not come up during Ukpabio’s previous visit to Houston, in 2010, and that he himself only “prays” for those who need his help. However, he also states [...]

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