Once in a while, challenges of life dictate that men and women of virtue and good will stand up to confront injustice, intimidation and oppression. Once in a while, in our journey through life, we are confronted with obstacles, that on the surface of it need not have been but nevertheless persistent. These are times when our revulsion should be strongly demonstrated. This is particularly apt in the face of a festering sore in Akwa Ibom state that has turned itself into a monster that refused to be tamed by societal (and even international) revulsion. She is roaming freely like in pre-historic times when the dinosaurs roam the earth surface. She appeared untameable, finding willing collaborators amongst her befuddled congregation who are always willing to act as her “almajiris”.
Without mincing words, the monster in question is Evangelist Helen Ukpabio, the founder of Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries, Nigeria. Helen has remained defiant even in the face of national and international condemnation of her tainted and psychotic teachings. Her “almajiris” are nothing more than her abundant religious thugs who would readily use the name of Jesus Christ to disrupt organised conferences. The paranoid and almost schizophrenic-like antics and behaviour of Helen Ukpabio defies decency and calls for immediate reaction on the part of the government of Nigeria. No human being should be greater than the laws of the land. Religious practices should also be conducted within the confines of established rules without infringing on the rights of children and adults alike. These are the tenets the rather egoistic Helen does not want to respect and hence the continued conflict and tension in Akwa Ibom state.
We are all probably aware of the release of a documentary (still accessible on the net) titled “Saving Africa’s Child Witches” by Gary Foxcroft of SteppingStone Nigeria (SSN), produced by Mag Gavan for British TV Channel 4. What most may not probably be aware of is the aftermath of the release of this documentary. Helen Ukpabio saw the release of this documentary as a declaration of war on her hitherto nefarious activities. She came out smoking from all ends and has vowed to make Akwa Ibom state uncomfortable for her “enemies”. Her reaction is the least expected of a genuine minister of the word. Amongst others, she had organised a police raid and beating of staff and children of the CRARN Centre in Eket and had taken SSN, CRARN and Akwa Ibom government to court.
We accept it as definitely within Helen Ukpabio’s right to resort to court of law if she feels aggrieved. This is a much civilised action. However, being the ego-filled, power intoxicated person she is, Helen did not stop there. She has continued to take sadistic pleasure in the physical intimidation of CRARN, SSN and all those opposed to her tainted teachings. Recently, on Wednesday, 29th July 2009, SSN in conjunction with CRARN and other sister organisations including the Nigerian Humanist Movement of Leo Igwe, organised a conference on “Child Rights and Witchcraft” in Calabar. Helen Ukpabio supporters (nee almajiris) numbering about 150 to 200 descended on the venue causing mayhem. Leo Igwe was thoroughly beaten up by the mob and had a number of possessions stolen from him. For more details and a visual account of this reign of terror by Helen Ukpabio’s mob, please visit this link:
In the light of the continued reign of terror by Helen and her hypnotised, brain-washed and ill-guided supporters, it behoves on civilised men and women all over the world to strongly call on the Nigerian government to call Helen Ukpabio to order. She and her misguided type of evangelists and pastors should be brought to book. It is imperative that the Nigerian government take steps to ensure that ill-gotten wealth on the part of those using religion to stigmatise children, is ploughed back into rehabilitating stigmatised children.
We boldly state that no one or group has the right to compromise the future and comfort of innocent children on the platform of some obscene religious doctrine. Thus, it behoves on us all to protect those fundamental values essential for the sustenance of human civilisation. The rights of children deserve respect from us all, irrespective of religion. We also must not compromise organised resistance (on the platform of religion) to freedom of expression. Helen Ukpabio by her behaviour and attitude has violated these two sacrosanct values of the human race. Nigerian children should have the right to peaceful existence without the fear of child-haters like Helen Ukpabio. We call on you all to join in the effort to convince the Nigerian government of the paramount need to curtail the excesses of Helen Ukpabio. Helen Ukpabio must be brought to justice!
Please log on to this petition site to append your signature. Your signature is valuable and important. It could be all that is required to save the life of a potential “child witch”.
Olusegun Fakoya, MD.