28.09.2022 Feature Article

Ukpabio rescuing families from witchcraft markets

Ukpabio rescuing families from witchcraft markets
28.09.2022 LISTEN

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW) is deeply concerned over a recent move by Helen Ukpabio and her Liberty Gospel Church to relaunch their witch-hunting ministry in Calabar in Southern Nigeria. Advocates have spotted a billboard in Calabar announcing a program, “Rescuing Families from Witchcraft Markets”.

The program will be held from October 5 to 9, 2022 at the church headquarters in Calabar, Cross River State. The theme of this program is disturbing. It suggests that witches exist in families; that families are entrapped by witchcraft, and need to be rescued and released. Ukpabio claims to be an ex-witch on a divine mission to identify witches and exorcise witchcraft. She has written books and produced films on how children become and operate as witches. AfAW is concerned that this event will provide another forum for Ukpabio to brand children witches, and incite violence and hatred against family members. Ukpabio will use this event to spread occult fears and anxieties and add to the growing problem of child and adult witch persecutions in the region.

Ukpabio and her church have widely been criticized for their witch-hunting activities, sanctifying witchcraft imputations, and witch trials. Ukpabio's church programs have been linked to rampant cases of witch persecution and child witch stigmatization in the region. Unfortunately, these criticisms have not restrained Ukapbio and her witch-finding proclivities.

At a time when churches in Europe and America are apologizing and expressing remorse over their role in the persecution of alleged witches in early Modern Europe, it is disturbing and worrisome that a church in Nigeria is announcing a witch-hunting event.

The Cross River state authorities should take urgent legal and administrative measures to restrain Ukpabio and her witch-finding church. They should consider the actual and potential damage that this event could do. They should act bearing in mind the dangers that Ukpabio's witch-hunting ministry poses to the people of Cross River state and beyond. Witchcraft is superstition. Witchcraft markets are imaginaries and do not exist anywhere. Witch hunting ended in Europe centuries ago, and should have no place in 21st-century Nigeria.

Leo Igwe directs Advocacy for Alleged Witches, which campaigns to end witch persecution in Africa.

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