Outstanding Christian female filmmaker and Apostle of the most High, Mrs. Helen Ukpabio, has no doubt distinguished herself in the work of God and movie-evangelism, within and outside our shores.
She has also produced and funded over 21 didactic movies, since her sojourn into Nollywood, in ’98.
In fact, aside being a successful and respected filmmaker and woman of God, Ukpabio, who operates from Calabar, Cross River State is also an accomplished author with several religious books to her credit, as well as a prolific music composer with many-released albums in the market.
As the founder and general overseer of Liberty Gospel Church, she has also traversed several countries in Africa, America, Europe, Asia and the Far East, establishing churches, preaching the gospel and winning more souls for Christ.
Gifted and anointed Ukpabio, is also the Executive Director of Child Rescue International, and is happily married with three children.
In this interview with AZUH AMATUS, the fire-brand preacher cum teacher of the word, spoke elaborately on her forthcoming consecration and subsequent celebration, as an Apostle, why she’s changing from an evangelist
to apostle, Nollywood, love for hats, passion for music and writing as well as challenges.
She also bared her mind on the raging crisis between her and the Akwa-Ibom State government and many more.
Enjoy the interaction!
As one of the leading and prolific female filmmakers in Nigeria, it looks like you have somehow slowed down in recent times, what is responsible for this?
Truth is that the industry is somehow down, it is only being heard these days, only in the areas of politics. Why pump in money when the market is very down. Bad as it is, I try to produce one film for Liberty Films, every year. We are also now distributing and marketing our films through our various branches nationwide. We have withdrawn all our films from the markets; they are now sold through all our churches and offices.
Since we started in 98, we have produced 21 quality movies. Our latest movie, Light Affliction, is ready and would be coming out very soon. Our next movie, which would begin soon is entitled: No Festival For Witches. We will commence shoot between October and November.
Despite your busy schedule as a woman of God, you still find time to act, sing and write books, how do you juggle all these together?
Like I said earlier, the grace of God is very sufficient for me. When His Grace is upon your life, you can do too many things. It’s not by might.
After releasing five gospel albums, you suddenly stopped singing in 2006, why the long break?
I have three albums waiting to be released, but no time yet to do that. I’m not a full time singer; I’m more of a composer. Before I could compose and sing a song, I usually give myself nine to ten weeks, in order to train my voice. I tried releasing one last year, but could not because of too many engagements.
As soon as I’m set, I will push the three albums out once, hopefully, by early next year. I also do not duplicate my songs they are very inspiring and inspirational too.
We would like to know more about your life as an author?
This year alone, l have published three books, and I still have over 51 unpublished books. Sincerely, I have lost count of the number of books that I have published. I started publishing since ’92. Again, I will be unveiling four new books to the world as part of the activities lined up for my consecration. My first book was entitled: The Seat of Satan Exposed.
These days, you also travel a lot outside our shores, is that part of your new calling?
When I first started my ministry, I received an instruction from God, not to travel out until after ten years, that instruction I obeyed. After those ten years, we also had the first anniversary of our church, when we clocked ten. I travel out mostly to do the work of God. Men and women of God outside our shores usually invite me because of my rare gifts. I also use the opportunity to shop abroad.
You love to wear hats a lot; do you shop for them abroad or here in Nigeria?
I buy my hats mostly in London and Italy and other parts of Europe. Another reason I wear hats is to veil my head, I don’t keep my head open, especially in church. I have an uncountable number of hats and head ties. In fact, I have over 200 hats, and I have over 20 something of them that I have not worn. Just like I have over 50 suits that I have not worn too.
Meaning, you’re a very fashionable woman of God?
No, I’m not fashionable, but I like dressing well for the Lord.
How would you describe your fashion style?
Fashion to me means trying to be at the forefront of something without actually applying some restrictions. People going naked and painting all parts of their bodies, that to me is not fashion. So, fashion for me is using what is good to God’s glory. Meaning, you won’t be naked or be a woman-man. I don’t wear make-up or earrings. I’m a demons bulldozer, meaning, I don’t wear artificial things. I am natural and take good care of myself. I wrote a song that says, Jesus loves me the way I am.
You used to be very big in physique, but you’ve suddenly gone down, was it exercise or stress-induced?
I used to be obese, but the Lord is gradually trimming me, and I believe that He will trim me more.
The whole of Calabar is already agog for your forthcoming consecration on the 29th of this month; we would like you to tell us more about it?
Actually, the preparation for the event is big; the whole branches of our church, which are over 150; are participating and coming. Even the ones also outside Nigeria are involved in the preparations. All of us are working towards the success of the consecration; it comes up on 29th of this month, August. It actually begins with a weeklong leadership seminar, tagged: Empowerment for Greater Service, from Monday, August 24, to Friday, 28. While, the consecration proper, which would be officiated by Bishop N.E Moses, and a host of other ministers, holds Saturday, which is 29, at the Palace Temple of our church’s headquarters. We will have a special thanksgiving service the following day, which is Sunday, alongside the presentation of the four new books I wrote, on that day. It’s going to be big by God’s grace.
But why are you changing from an Evangelist to Apostle, any special reason(s)?
You know it’s just like getting into any office; there is room for growth and promotion. I started as an evangelist and was called into an office, which is to be an evangelist and I was faithful to that my evangelistic calling, along the line, God empowered me with some special gifts and I went about sowing seeds. But above all, an evangelist cannot be a teacher of teachers. He cannot train pastors, and now I’m a pastor of pastors, I have a school of ministry where all our pastors are trained personally by me. I also have other spirituals gifts that have shown that I’m an apostle; I cast out demons, which has been widely misconstrued by many people. I deliver witches and have the gifts of discernment of spirits. I also have special gifts in the areas of healing and changing of fortunes, demolition of evil thrones and native doctors shrines. All these are not what the evangelist can do; they are the works of an apostle. I’m already an apostle; I’m just making an open celebration of the office on 29th and 30th.
But a lot of people also expected that you would have gone for the post of a Bishop instead of an Apostle?
I don’t actually buy the idea of a bishop. I want to go by the hierarchy of biblical offices. I will never be a bishop; apostle is the highest rank at Liberty Gospel Church. Mind you, an apostle is not a title. The significance of this my now office, is actually in the work that I will be doing, which I have already started a long time ago. My husband once said to me that he has never seen somebody like me, who plant churches very easily. Most pastors prefer to have churches only in the big towns, because they want to avoid the headache that is involved in the planting of churches. But even as a woman of God, I have planted churches everywhere in Nigeria, even outside Nigeria. Those following me will enjoy this apostolic anointing, which is upon my churches and me.
You started your church in 92, and today you have over 150 branches, what has been the secret of this immense growth?
Well, we have been working quietly over the years, when we started in Calabar in 92, we went to Uyo, a month later and opened another branch, and thereafter, we’ve been opening two churches each. When we started making movies in ‘98, our name spread, and we started opening ten branches in a year, we even opened 15, in some years, and 20, too. This was what helped us to have these numbers of branches.
Taking into cognizance that you’re a woman, how has it been, doing all these? I mean the challenges?
To start with, I hold seminars and conferences a lot; you met me having one when you arrived. I also train workers for the Lord’s work. I also keep visiting to see how these works go. I also organize national conferences. So, when you talk about challenges and coping, it is the grace. Even when I break down sometimes, I don’t let people or my members know about it. I usually find strength in my weakness, whenever I break down.
Who are those you are expecting for the consecration?
I’m expecting people from all over the world. Nollywood is coming in full force, politicians, government officials, leading clergymen and women. I’m also expecting the lame, blind, the sick and well wishers, even those who do not wish me well. I’m also inviting the Akwa Ibom State Governor and government to come and see the great thing happening to one of the illustrious daughters from their State. I want them to come and enjoy that day with me, after that they can then continue arranging for my murder. Mind you, we have made adequate arrangements for all those coming for this event. We have good security, accommodation, logistics and other arrangements fully in place. For the first time in my life, I’m having a celebration, I don’t always have time for celebrations, not even birthdays. Whether the devil likes it or not, we are celebrating this Apostolic office on that day.
Who are those supporting you to make this event grand and memorable?
Financially, I would have expected Akwa Ibom State government to back me up. But instead, they are not, and are only backing up what they should not have backed up. But since they are not doing it, the Lord can never disappoint his own. My members are here and strongly pushing me up. They are doing their best and by His grace, the event will be grand. Our members are over 50,000 in Nigeria, and most of them will be coming for this event, so like I said earlier, it’s going to be massive. Mind you, an apostle can preach, teach, pastor, evangelize and do several other good things for the Lord in his vineyard.
We would like to know the root cause of the crisis between you and your State Government, Akwa-Ibom. In some national publications recently, you even alleged that your State’s government is after your life?
Then, I used to hear that individuals have problems with their States’ governments or governors; I never knew that it could happen to me. In the first place, I live in Calabar, Cross River State and not Akwa Ibom, which is also my State of origin and place of birth. The problem began when a spurious and sponsored story appeared on the internet, alleging that I tag children witches and kill or tell their parents to kill them, by driving nails into their heads. They even got a child from Niger Delta to say that a nail was driven into his head. They said that I was the cause. That through my films, I preached that people should kill children who are witches, sincerely, I was shocked when I read all these rubbish. And before we knew it, people had already started signing, cursing and threatening me over what I did not do or knew about. I was called all sorts of names. Over 10,000 abusive letters came my way and that of my entire family. We initially made fun of it, as a matter of fact, but with the constant calls and abuses, especially at midnight, I now knew it was serious. So, we started investigating and they kept telling us we have spoken to the governor of Akwa Ibom.
And to our surprise, the governor started taking sides without hearing anything from us. We eventually discovered that those spreading these false allegations on my church, and me were actually working with the governor as well as getting his financial support.
Those fighting me on the Internet even said it publicly that my state governor gave them money to fight me and destroy my church and me. I started enduring this ugly trend since 2008.
The highpoint of their evil was going to arrange children for a wicked international documentary against me. While all these campaign of calumny against me were happening, I called a press conference to clear my name, all the media houses that I invited refused to use my story, except one, when we investigated again, they said somebody at the top from my State government instructed them not to use my story. As if that was not enough, they started threatening my innocent live and that of my family.
My lawyer later petitioned the SFU, in Lagos, we also called those operating these sites in Britain, to come and show the world the children they alleged that I’ve killed, and the exact places I bury them. Even, we went as far as asking them to come and show us the parents and relatives of these children and their graves, which they never did till date.
Besides, are they saying that we no longer have laws in Nigeria? Can you just wake up and start killing people just like that in Nigeria?
For me, they are just on a revenge mission, over my expository book entitled: The Seat of Satan Exposed. Even the so called Ita man that is running a school for less privileged, quickly changed it into an orphanage for rescued child witch victims, just to get at me.
When he was arrested, a call came from above, and he was immediately released. To tell you how wicked these people are, they even instructed the children at the home to carry placards with words written to indict me.
My State’s governor is married with kids, if somebody should do all these to his wife and family, how would he feel? How can he join them in blackmailing me, using those children whom I have never met or even knew where they have their homes to blackmail me? I have never even been to where they stay.
Till date, they are still using State powers to shield the Ita man; he’s yet to report to the police, for a thorough investigation.
The Ita man is using my name to enrich himself on the Internet, as I speak with you, my lawyer has photocopies of over 1.5 million pounds donated to him by various bodies, for the so called rescued child witches. He’s running a big Internet scam. How can a governor of a State take sides in an issue without even investigating? They are using everything to fight me, including, State funds, media and might. But I’m unshaken because. I have Jehovah God by my side. He will fight for me and trouble all my enemies. You can’t fight God’s anointed.
I am a woman of God, they want to kidnap and kill me, which I already know. My God will see me through.
First Published, August 2019.