A controversial Evangelical Christian and “witch hunter” arrives in the UK in the hope of performing exorcisms on children. But in Nigeria witch scares have resulted in violence, torture and death.
The founder of the bizarre Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries has been accused of exploiting superstitious beliefs around demonic possession and endangering children.
Claiming to be a former witch, Ukpabio has advised parents; “If a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health he or she is a servant of Satan.”
Are you under witchcraft attack? Ancestral spirit attack? Mermaid spirit attack? Event poster
She offers “deliverance” sessions, crude exorcisms which have been accused of fuelling witchcraft accusations against children in Nigeria.
A poster for Thursday’s planned event in south London promised “disconnections from all spiritual attacks” and asked: “are you under witchcraft attack? Ancestral spirit attack? Mermaid spirit attack?”
The leaftet urged Londoners to “come and be disconnected from all spiritual attacks”.
Channel 4 News has learned that the original Deptford venue pulled out after hearing about the nature of the event, and it had to be held elsewhere.
Ukpabio produces films about supposed demonic possession of young children and mock satanic rituals performed by child actors. Her most famous work End of The Wicked shows child actors plotting to murder their parents and eat their flesh.
In 2008 the Channel 4 Disptaches documentary Saving Africa’s Witch Children exposed the work done by Ukpabio’s ministry.
That documentary followed the work of Gary Foxcroft, an Englishman who devoted his life to helping vulnerable children through the charity Stepping Stones Nigeria.
His charity identified a number of root causes of child witchcraft accusations that can lead to abandonment and killings; chiefly fake pastors profiting from “exorcisms” and extreme poverty and superstitious cultural beliefs.
A report by Stepping Stones found that children accused of witchcraft end up living on the streets “without access to food, water, shelter, medical care or education”.
The charity also found evidence that these children could face vulnerability to child exploitation and trafficking. They have highlighted the case of an eight year old boy murdered due to fears he was a “witch” in August of 2010.
In another case had a girl had a nail driven into her head and was left with a permanent mental disability after being accused of witchcraft.