In July the BHA reported that Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, Leo Igwe, had been attacked during a ‘Child Rights and Witchcraft’ conference in Calabar, Nigeria. We have now learned from Mr Igwe that that the leader of the Liberty Gospel Church, Helen Ukpabio ,whose members were responsible for the attacks at the conference, has filed a lawsuit against him.
A statement released by Mr Igwe gives details: ‘Helen applied to the Federal High Court in Calabar for the enforcement of her fundamental rights. She claimed, among other things, that the conference on Witchcraft and Child Rights held on July 29 in Calabar – which her members disrupted – and the arrest of her church members on the said date constituted an infringement on their rights to practice their Christian religious belief relating to witchcraft. She asked the court to issue perpetual injunctions restraining me and others: From interfering with their practice of Christianity and their deliverance of people with witchcraft spirit; From holding seminars or workshops denouncing the Christian religious belief in witchcraft; From arresting her and her church members etc.’
Mr Igwe is being sued for ‘damages for unlawful and unconstitutional infringement on her rights to belief in God, Satan, witchcraft, Heaven and Hell fire and for unlawful and unconstitutional detention of her two church members.’
Mr Igwe continues, ‘Helen and her church members want to evade arrest and prosecution by all means. Otherwise how could one explain the reason behind these frivolous allegations and trumped-up charges?’
‘She should be ready to pay damages to thousands of children who have been tortured, traumatized, abused and abandoned as a result of her misguided ministry. Helen should be ready to pay for the damage she has done to many homes and households across Nigeria through her witchcraft schemes and other fraudulent activities.’
The trial has been adjourned until 17th December.
A recent documentary, Return to Africa’s Witch Children http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-43/episode-1 reveals some of the actions of the Liberty Gospel Church in Nigeria.
A petition has been set up to help make Helen Ukpabio face justice. Details can be found at: www.thepetitionsite.com/1/make-helen-ukpabio-face-justice
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief. It is the largest organisation in the UK working for a secular state.