The head of the Liberty Gospel Church in Nigeria, ‘Lady Apostle’ Helen Ukpabio was humiliated last week, during her stay in London when her arrival in the UK was met by a fierce barrage of criticism from the media, human rights lawyers, academic and activists.
Venues where Ukpabio had planned to deliver her crusade against ‘witchcraft’ and ‘mermaid spirit’ attacks quickly rushed to cancel her bookings and she was besieged by TV crews and protestors wherever she went. Her arrival and the response to it was broadcast nationally via Channel 4 news on Friday 11th April.
Ukpabio has received severe criticism in recent years for promoting the belief that children can be witches with numerous United Nation reports linking her church to horrific cases of child abuse in this
region. Documented cases include ones where children have had a hot iron placed on them, oil poured over them or have been forced to drink dangerous concoctions in order to drive the “witchcraft” out. Some cases have led to the death of innocent children.
In response to the threat to children in the UK by Helen Ukpabio’s arrival , the Executive Director of the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), Gary Foxcroft, called for the Home
Secretary to immediately deport Helen Ukpabio from the UK saying: “We believe that her presence in the UK is pursuant to section 3(5) of the Immigration Act 1971 on the basis that her presence here is not
conducive to the public good and reques t that she is immediately deported and has her UK visa revoked.
There have been numerous cases of children in the UK being tortured and sometimes killed due to to the beliefs that Helen Ukpabio espouses. Horrific murder cases such as Victoria Climbié and Kristy Bamu were linked to the practices of pastors similar to Helen Ukpabio. We cannot afford to wait for another
such case before the Government takes action to put a stop to such preachers”.
The issue of children being abused due witchcraft accusations in the UK has been recognised by the Government who established a National Working group to tackle the problem. However, as yet, there have been no successfully convictions of pastors whose preachings are known to lead to child abuse and there is no law in place to stop such harmful practices.
Whilst the government has moved swiftly to block entry to the UK for Islamic preachers whose presence is considered as harmful to the public good, there have been no cases of Christian pastors facing such measures.
WHRIN believes that there is an urgent need for the activities of such pastors to be more closely regulated and monitored so as to prevent more horrific cases of child abuse arising in the UK..