• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Helen Ukpabio’s Brothers Reportedly Killed by Police

A number of Nigerian news-sites are reporting that three brothers of “Lady Apostle” Helen Ukpabio were killed by police in Akwa Ibom on 25 March, and that a younger sister died from shock shortly afterwards. The reports include photos of dead bodies. The source of the story and of the pictures appears to be a blog titled Three Brothers Murdered by the Police and State Security Service of Akwa Ibom State, which posted an article by Helen Ukpabio’s surviving brother Henry Akpabio (sic for spelling) on 17 April. The article has been re-posted and adapted on a number of other sites:

It sounds like a fairy tale yet it is true. The Nigerian Police and SSS have been indulging in secret killings of supposed enemies to politicians at a fee. This they do and frame the people they killed either as kidnappers or as robbers. The victims are never given any chance to defend themselves.

According to the story, the brothers were killed following a meeting with “three white men… concerning the Dam that is to be constructed in their land”:

A little while into the meeting, the white men said they had to hold a brief discussion outside. As they left, the generating plant went off, Joseph [Akpabio]‘s wife rushed out to check if it was petrol problem. There she met over twenty police men wearing black T-shirts. They ordered her to stand still or else they would kill her; there the white men shook hands with the leaders of the squad… then left from there.

The police rushed into Joseph wife’s house rounded them up and asked them to lie down flat on their faces, handcuffed them behind, and forced them into their trucks… The police shot all the boys (about six of them) on their knees and crippled them.

The three brothers, along with others, were reportedly soon afterwards killed. Witness accounts have been posted to YouTube here.

Meanwhile, Henry Akpabio, who resides in the UK, claims to have received threatening messages from the leader of the squad, stating that “that they are commissioned to eliminate him and the entire family of Chief Esessien Akpabio”, including Helen Ukpabio.

Helen Ukpabio, as I’ve blogged a number of times, is internationally notorious as a proponent of the belief  – not found anywhere in the Bible – that personal misfortune can be caused by child witches, and that children identified as witches require “deliverance”. While Ukpabio asserts that she cures children afflicted in this way through a harmless ceremony, the doctrine has caused great harm to children and families. Ukpabio has not responded well to critical scrutiny, which she claims to believe is due to an “atheist conspiracy” that includes this blog, and she has endorsed an abusive website aimed against critics.

Needless to say, despite the controversy around Ukpabio and “child witches”, it should be recognised that a terrible tragedy has occurred here, and that the deaths raise serious questions about law and order in Nigeria. The Nigerian authorities need to undertake a thorough investigation of this incident, as a matter of urgency. I write this despite having been myself seriously defamed and abused by close followers of the “Lady Apostle”, and despite the fact that these same followers expressed vicious glee after the Nigerian humanist Leo Igwe’s father was seriously injured by corrupt police in 2010.

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