Helen Ukpabio: Hitting hard at witchcraft (Nigeria)

Daily Independent (Lagos), Vincent Obia, 2 Sept. 2008

The morning session, which always started at 6 a.m., was used for counseling and screening of persons who wanted to know their witchcraft status. It was a prayerful, painstaking exercise with Evangelist Helen Ukpabio, General Overseer of the church and foremost film producer, presiding.

People, who wanted to know their witchcraft status and those who already knew it but wanted to quit the evil practice and severe relationship with the dreaded cult, participated in the screening.

They later met with the evangelist who prayerfully counseled them and gave information on their status.

The evening session always began by 5.p.m. It was a mixed grill, comprising sessions of choruses and praise singing, prayers and teachings on the character and activities of witches and their world. Ukpabio taught the people by herself. As she mounted the platform to teach, Ukpabio would assure the crowd, “At the end of this teaching, those of you that used to have witches on the roof of your houses will have them no more,” adding, “My secret in life is that evil don’t exist. And if they are found anywhere, they listen to my instructions.” That direct confrontation of evil powers was greeted with a wild applause from the people.

She taught the people about the different types of witchcraft, particularly those practised in Africa, Nigeria and the local communities. According to Ukpabio, there is white, black, and red witchcraft. She put quite a number of what people know today as secret societies, cult or religions as white witchcraft, noting, “In white witchcraft, people are organised into various cult groups or religions and thought certain things contrary to the Word and will of God.

“Some of the things they do are believed to have the potential of protecting the member and making him prosperous while harming the others in the work place, business place, school, the neighbourhood, or family. All the same, it is witchcraft and harmful to him and others.

“In black witchcraft, the spirit gets directly into the human spirit. It can be dropped into someone’s food and it develops. If you are initiated into it, you can do a lot of evil to people in the society. The black witchcraft is crude and dangerous. They act like beasts and have no sympathy or pity for humans.”

She supported this with what the Bible says in the Book of Job, Chapter 41 verses 24 and 25. Ukpabio told the people that the witches practise their craft on their beds (meaning while asleep at night), coveting other peoples’ fields and properties and taking them violently. Ukpabio cited a spot in the Calabar metropolis where she said the marine spirit is holding the people captive.

Hear her: “Nobody can do well in Akim market. People in the market would have done better than they are doing now in their businesses. There is a witchcraft coven there to stop their prosperity.”

She said there are a lot of people who practise witchcraft without knowing and that most people become victims of witchcraft because of their ignorance of God, thereby becoming vulnerable to witches and demons. She said the marine spirit is witchcraft, adding, ‘When it enters you, it does not want you to enjoy anything good or be prosperous. If you have the spirit of God in you, you will live to enjoy your life. If you have Jesus, then life will be sweet for you.”

Constantly supporting her position with Bible passages, Ukpabio lamented that there weren’t many prophets in the country involved in the fight against witchcraft, noting, “Many of our preachers are rather giving the excuse that not much is said about witchcraft in the Bible.”

She equally condemned the belief and teaching of some secret cults that people who are good generally and do not bewitch other people or practically harm them cannot be attacked by evil men, evil powers, and witchcraft. “This is a false belief. The Bible says the witch looks for the innocent to attack, harm, and destroy. The innocent here includes someone that has a carefree attitude to life. They look for people who are not involved with God, have not repented or are not working in the vineyard of God. The witches look for the generous and liberal people to harm and destroy,” she said.

Just as those who wanted to know their witchcraft status earlier waited painstakingly for their turns to have a one-on-one screening session with Ukpabio, the people who attended the evening segment, which always ended at about 11p.m., scrambled for convenient spots to sit and listen to the evangelist expose to them some of the secrets of the world of darkness. She also told them a lot about demons and powers like Lucifer and the fallen angels, Beelzebub, Leviathan spirit, and Marine spirit.

After days of teaching the people the various methods witches operated and how they afflicted their victims, Ukpabio conducted deliverance for the people. She used the night of Saturday, August 23, to conduct deliverance for those that were afflicted with various demonic powers and influences, which left the people sick in most cases. The evangelist conducted deliverance for persons that belonged to the witchcraft cult on Sunday, August 24. It was the climax of the seven-day service.

On that day, nobody arrived late for the service. This was because nobody wanted to miss any part of it. While some genuinely wanted to get deliverance from the evil cult, others wanted to see with their eyes, the people that practised witchcraft. Expectedly, the number of worshippers in the already filled-to-capacity auditorium increased, resulting in the hiring of more seats for the new people that came to attend the service that Sunday.

After a moment of praise and worship that was led by the church choir, Ukpabio stepped out onto the pulpit. It was exactly 2.30 p.m. She asked the people to stand up and pray against the powers of darkness.

After the prayers, Ukpabio declared: “We no longer have the spirit of fear. When we were unbelievers, we feared. Now, we do not fear but have been given power to stop demons in every direction.” The people chorused, “Amen.” She paused for a moment and then said: “If you are a witch, come out here for deliverance. As you do so, the adult should stand on one side and the children on one side.” Interestingly, the people rushed to meet her at the altar.

The rush to the front by men, women, and children created a scramble. It became a tedious task arranging the people. However, the pastors succeeded in arranging them into several groups of adults and children. In the end, those who admitted they were witches and came out for deliverance were well over 1,500, majority of them children.

The choir was at that time singing a deeply moving song. It was singing what the man who was healed by Jesus Christ in the Bible said of Jesus: “They say he is a sinner, but there is this one thing that I know, he has healed me.” Many of the people in the expansive church auditorium also moved to the front of the church to have a good look of those who admitted they were witches, thus, forcing Ukpabio to warn: “If you are not a witch, go back to your seat.”

After putting the people into groups, Ukpabio started the deliverance proper with children. “Look into my eyes,” she said, warning that where one’s eyes were not looking into her’s, the person would not be delivered. “I command every extraordinary eye that opens to another realm to cease and not function any more,” she said.

Looking into their eyes she said, “I subdue. I subdue. I command the spirit of Beelzebub that operated at night in you to depart. Henceforth, you have no more companion as dog, cat, rat or any other creature. From today, your human spirit will never carry any other spirit.”

As the people were looking into her eyes, Ukpabio said some of them had more than two eyes. She said some had two extraordinary eyes; some had up to seven extraordinary eyes while others had what she called “empowered eyes.”

She went on: “Using the eye to eye contact, I destroy every other extraordinary eyes in you. I drop my hands in your ears and close them to any other sound that is not ordinary. You shall no more hear any extraordinary sound, music, drumming, whispering, invocation, or command. By the spirit of God, I command the Leviathan spirit in you that is answerable to Beelzebub to come out. I bar you from administering any characteristics of wickedness.”

Ukpabio prayed in the same way, repeating the same process as she took the witches in several groups, each group comprising between 150 to 200 persons. When she was done with each of the groups, Ukpabio declared: “I totally deliver you from witchcraft.”

The deliverance exercise was a very simple process. There was no pushing. There was no falling down. There was no screaming. At the end of the exercise, Ukpabio lamented that some people who had demons and witchcraft cast out of them, were in the habit of returning to demonic, lifeless, and orthodox churches while others chose not to go to church at all. She said those who came for the deliverance would be closely monitored for nine months.

She asked them to come for counseling and prayer every two months during the period, attend programmes of Liberty Gospel Church in their communities as well as the December retreat of the church. She enjoined them to go back and live their lives for God.

The deliverance service was the climax of the weeklong activities that drew participants from parts of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states and other parts of the country.

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