Liberia, Maryland County: murdered motorcyclist interred

Previous posts related to the murder of  Mordecious Nyemah, who was the victim of a ritual murder on March 25, have been published on April 3, 5 and 22

Last Saturday, May 15, Maryland County’s Superintendent, George A. Prowd, spoke memorable words at the funeral of the late Mordecious Nyemah. Prowd mentioned Maryland’s bad reputation as ‘Gboyo-business’ is concerned and more specifically he referred to one of his predecessors who was publicly hanged after being found guilty of a ritualistic murder. Superintendent James Anderson was one of seven convicts who were publicly executed at dawn in February 1979, a memorable event which made history as ‘The Hanging of the Harper Seven’.  (NB Superintendent Prowd inadvertently called his condemned predecessor Allen Yancy. Yancy was one of the hanged Harper Seven, but was a member of the House of Representatives when he committed his atrocious crime.)

Superintendent Prowd lauded the police for acting swiftly and arresting the suspects of the killing of Mordecious Nyemah. He cautioned the people to remain law-abiding. It may be useful to recall that public protests over the ritualistic murders in the county led to rioting which even caused the government of President Weah to impose a curfew. (webmster FVDK).

Liberia’s most notorious ritual murder case culminated in ‘The Hanging of the Harper Seven’. Readers who are interested in more information, please click here 
Photo: FRED VAN DER KRAAIJ

Murdered Mordecious Nyemah finally interred

Published: May 18, 2021
By: The New Dawn, Liberia – By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County–Editing by Jonathan Browne

The remains of the late commercial motorcyclist Mordecious Nyemah, who was gruesomely murdered on 25th March 2021 in Maryland County have been laid to rest, two months after the killing that sparked violent protests in the county by angry citizens.The deceased was reportedly murdered by suspects Moses Mlarmah and others near Bassiken town between Gand Kru and Maryland. His remains were finally interred on Saturday, May 15, 2021.

The home-going ceremony for the late motorcyclist, also a student, was held at the Maranatha Heritage Assembly of God Church in Pleebo, Maryland County Electoral district#2. Sympathizers included county authorities, representatives of the business community, students and women groups, national security, religious community, Civil Society Organizations, traditional chiefs and elders, among others.

Maryland County Superintendent George A. Prowd applauded citizens for attending the burial of the late Mordecious Nyemah, whose murder he described as worrisome. He assured family of the deceased that justice will be accorded them for the murder of their son.

Superintendent Prowd said the Government of Liberia is committed to protecting lives of citizens and foreign residents, while condemning ritualistic killings across the country. According to him, there have been several death cases since he took office as superintendent, but the case of the late Mordecious Nyemah has drawn attention of both citizens and national government. Superintendent Prowd recalled that in the late 70’s, similar situation occurred in the county that involved former superintendent Allen Yancy and other high profile officials, who were tried, adjudged guilty and hanged.

“When you reflect your minds back to Maryland Gboyo history, you will get to know that most of those people, who were involved into ritualistic killings by then, were mostly government officials. I remember, there was a superintendent in Maryland who was caught for ritualistic killing and was hanged and because of this, many citizens look at us as suspects of these current ritualistic acts that are happening in this county”, Superintendent Prowd lamented. He expressed excitement that suspects have been arrested and placed behind bars, awaiting court trial in connection to the murder of the late Mordecial.

“We are too happy and thankful to God that one of the suspects, Moses, who was the first to be arrested, without medicine, without threats or torture, he’s started calling names of people who are involved into the death of Mordecial”, Prowd added. He continued that in as much the suspects are behind bars, there’s a strong case, and burial of the late Modecious doesn’t in anyway end the case.

The superintendent cautioned citizens to remain law-abiding and assist government in the ongoing hearing rather than staging protests that would disrupt the county and shut down economic activities.
He county authorities, including the Maryland Legislative Caucus have received series of letters from parents and other concerned groups over the release of alleged rioters that are in prison in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.

Prowd disclosed that those letters were sent to national government, and prayed that as soon as the case is being looked into and suspects are found guilty, it would be easy for President Weah to extended executive clemency. He urged parents of those suspects to remain peaceful as government is working out modality to transport at least three members of the bereaved family to Zwedru for the trial.

On April 5, 2021, police arrested and sent to the Zwedru Correction Palace scores of suspects, including Morris Senneh, President of the Pleebo Motorcyclists union, Thomas Kumah, president of Maryland County youth, Mamadou Diallo, Edward Toe, Sieh Gray, Edwin Lawal, Salu Ali, Lawrence Jarbee, and Wilfred Kuoh.

Also being held for the murder and subsequent rioting are Eugene Koppeh, George Nimely, John Davis, Patrick Wilson, Augustine Navy, Micheal Doblah, Sawo Bedel, Robert Wesseh, Fred Johnny, Peter Bestman, Moses Toe, Mashel Doloson, Thomas Kuma, Joseph Bannie, George Segbeh, Mark Freeman, Michael Tugbeh, Winston Smith, Christopher Dweh Prince Kouh, George Weah, John Collies, Chris Porka and Sham Beyslow.

They are accused of involving in multiple crimes during mass protests in demand of justice that led to the damage of government’s properties, including arson attacks on the home of Speaker Bhofal Chambers in Pleebo Sodoken district, Maryland County. The violence led President George Weah to impose a dusk to dawn curfew in the entire county, which subsequently calm the tension.

Source: Murdered motorcyclist finally interred

Liberia: protests in Maryland County over alleged ritual killing of young people

The mysterious death of a motorcyclist identified as Mordecial Nyemah has prompted thousands of residents of Maryland County, especially women, to publicly protest over the alleged ritual killing of young people. Maryland County, in the southeastern part of the country, is notorious for ritual murders. The most notorious ritual murder case dates back to the 1970s and led to the hanging of the Harper Seven, including the Superintendent of Maryland County and the county’s representative in the House of Representatives.  

This may explain the protests though – as far as we, in the outside world, know – there seems to be no proof of another wave of ritual killings in Maryland County.
To be continued when more news emerges (FVDK).

Curfew imposed in Liberia as inmates escape prison amid violent protests

Police trying to contain the unrest – Photo: AFP 

Published: April 1, 2021
By: Face2Face Africa  – Mildred Europa Taylor 

Liberia’s President George Weah has imposed a night-time curfew on the coastal county of Maryland after about 90 inmates broke jail amid violent demonstrations led by women. Thousands of residents of Maryland county, especially women have been protesting for several days now over alleged ritual killings of young people.

On Wednesday, during one of these violent protests in Harper city, near the border with Ivory Coast, demonstrators broke into the county’s prison compound in search of an alleged killer of a motorcyclist, resulting in the escape of the inmates, police spokesman Moses Carter told the BBC. The home of the speaker of the house of representatives, who comes from the region, was also set on fire by the protesters, Carter said.

Weah in a statement said “in order to keep the peace, and to ensure that law and order prevails, a curfew is hereby imposed throughout Maryland County, ” adding that the “curfew will be strictly enforced by the police, who will be supported by the Joint Security Forces.”

On the alleged killings, the president said he is aware of the gruesome killing of a young man in Harper City, Maryland County. “Although a suspect was apprehended by the police and incarcerated pending subsequent investigation in accordance with due process of law, we have seen residents of Harper City, as well as Pleebo City, take to the streets to protest the killing,” Weah said.

“I would like to assure the people of Maryland County that this killing has claimed the urgent attention of the Government, and will be thoroughly, promptly and fully investigated. The perpetrators will face the full weight of the law.”

The search for the inmates continues, Front Page Africa reports. The police have appealed to the public not to harbor any of the escapees but to turn them in.

Source: Curfew imposed in Liberia as inmates escape prison amid violent protests

Related news:

Liberia: Violence in Maryland; Speaker Chambers’ House Set Ablaze as Pres. Weah Orders Curfew

Published: March 31, 2021
By: FrontPageAfrica – Gerald C. Koinyeneh   

Monrovia – Reports from Maryland County in Southeastern Liberia said that House Speaker Bhofal Chambers’ house in Pleebo, Sodoken District has been set ablaze, while angry protesters have stormed the Harper Central Prison, freeing 91 inmates.

In the wake of the incident, President George Weah has declared a daytime curfew in Maryland County from 6: AM to 6: PM.

The political officer in the office of Speaker Chambers, George Watkins, confirming the arson attack on the Speaker’s house to FrontPageAfrica, said Police has arrested the alleged perpetrator only identified as Kalagbah who said he acted based on rumored that the Speaker ordered the police to use force on protesters in Harper city.

Recently, a group of angry people took to the streets in Pleebo, the county’s commercial hub to protest the mysterious death of a motorcyclist identified as Mordecial Nyemah.

To calm the situation, Watkins said, the Speaker, exercising his responsibility as a senior citizen of the area, liaised with his colleagues and they engaged the Liberia National Police (LNP) to restore calm in the area and investigate the incident.

But rumors soon began to spread that the Speaker has ordered the Police to beat on the protesters and remove them off the streets forcefully, something he said that prompted Kalagbah to the set the four-bed room house, valued at US$100, 000 ablaze.

Responding to whether the Speaker ordered the LNP to forcefully remove the protesters off the streets, he said: “It is not true, the Speaker just exercised his responsibility and worked with his colleagues to see how calm can be restored on the ground. We leave it with the government of Liberia to do something about it.”

Meanwhile, the Joint Security in the county has issued a search order against 91 inmates including the main subject of the latest violence, identified as Moses Mlamah who fled the Maryland Central Prison in Harper and called on the public to assist in re-arresting them.

In the statement, the Joint Security said beside releasing 91 prisoners, the prison was vandalized on March 30, 2021 by angry protesters from Pleebo and other surrounding towns, damaging important materials of the prisons.

The Joint Security also added that some of the items from the prison were looted by some community members and is requesting those behind the unwholesome act to turn in those items to the prison authority or call 0886-922-486/0770-243-749.

Excerpt of the statement: “The Joint security says whoever comes across Mr. Moses Mlamah, the accused should called these numbers: 0777-005-551/0886-839-991/0886-642-204. And for those who are on the run should also turn themselves in to the joint security of this county. Please note if they are refusing, their sentencing terms will be added if they are caught.”

While the search for the inmates continues, the Joint security is appealing to the public not to harbor any of the escapees, but to turn them in, assuring they will be accorded due process.

‘Unlawful and totally Unacceptable’

Meanwhile, the Pleebo Sodoken District’s student group has ‘strongly’ condemn the recent murder of Mordecial Nyemah, but also expressed dismay over the wave of violence that erupted in the wake of the incident, leading to the burning of the Speaker’s House.

“This is unlawful and totally unacceptable,” the group said.

“The alleged scale and gravity of these attacks by protesters mark a worrying escalation of violence. No cause can justify such brutality against the Speaker’s house and even the senseless killing. Perpetrators should be held to account. We urge the security forces to exercise restraint in dealing with the situation and above all ensure that innocent civilians are not harmed.”

The group further urged all students, communities and groups to reject violence, adding, “After years of insecurity and instability, it should be clear that violence is not the solution to the challenges facing Pleebo.”

Source: Liberia: Violence in Maryland; Speaker Chambers’ House Set Ablaze as Pres. Weah Orders Curfew

Another background article:

Liberia: President Weah Declares Curfew In Maryland, Following Violent Protest

Published: March 31, 2021
By: FrontPageAfrica – Willie N. Tokpah  

MONROVIA — President George Manneh Weah has declared a curfew in Maryland County from 6am to 6pm following violent protest by women and motorcyclists over the alleged death of a motorcyclist by four unknown men.
President Weah condemned the violent attacks and warned that his government will not in any way condoned any act of lawlessness.

Citizens of the county reportedly cut one of those allegedly linked to the murder allegation. On Wednesday, scores of women and motorcyclists took to the street of Pleebo, demanding justice in the death of the motorcyclist, Modacious Nyemah, who is said to be a senior student of the Pleebo Central High School.

Their action reportedly resulted to led to the burning of House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers’ residence in Pleebo, Maryland County.

Speaker Chambers upon series of calls and text messages to his orange number did not respond up to press time.

Liberia National Police Spokesman Moses Carter confirmed the situation, stating that one arrest has been made in connection to the situation.

Carter further noted that the individual arrested on Wednesday, March 31 along the Bateken, Grand Kru Highway is currently in police custody in Harper and will be charge and forwarded to court.

The protest which came as a result of the mysterious death of the motorcyclist halted normal activities in Pleebo City on Wednesday, March 31.

Due to its brewing tension, President George Weah then declared 6am -6:00Pm curfew in Maryland County following violence among the people in that part of the Country.

According to the Executive Mansion, the curfew will remain enforced until further notice.
Though it is still unclear what may have linked the Speaker’s residence to the saga but the prompt decision by the President has so far brought a partly calm to the situation as the citizens are now under obligation to abide by his mandate or face the full weight of the law.

It can be recalled that scores of women and cyclists on March 25, 2021 stormed the City of Pleebo in protest of the alleged murder of student Modecial Nyamah along the Grand Kru, Maryland Highway.

Meanwhile, Police Spokesman Moses Carter said further investigation is still ongoing into the matter.

Source: Liberia: President Weah Declares Curfew In Maryland, Following Violent Protest

Liberia: ritualistic killings spark mob action in Maryland County (2005 article)

There are so many reports on ritualistic killings in Liberia, one should almost lose track. Below is another article, dating from 2005, on ritualistic murders in Maryland County, perhaps the most notorious region of Liberia as far as ritual murders are concerned. (webmaster FVDK)

Hanging of Convicted Ritual Killers (‘Harper Seven’) in Harper City, Maryland County (1979) – Picture by FVDK Fred van der Kraaij

Published: January 27, 2005
By Josephus Moses Gray – The Perspective 

Some panic-stricken inhabitants of the southeastern county of Maryland, mainly in Harper city, over the weekend took the law into their hands when they staged a violent protest over the wave of ritualistic killings which has re-surfaced in the area.

The county is noted for ritualistic killings, despite serious actions taken over the years by the Liberian government – by putting perpetrators to death by hanging while giving others lengthy prison sentences.

According to latest report emerging from the county, hundreds of angry residents came out to protest the alleged failure of the appropriate security apparatus to curtail the wave of ritualistic killings in the county.

During the violence demonstration staged by the youth of the county, several persons were victimized while several business houses and private homes were reportedly attacked and looted by the mobs. Liberia’s Justice Minister, Cllr. Kabineh Ja’neh told journalists in Monrovia this week that the mobs attacked the National Police Headquarters on Green Street in Harper and released several prisoners sentenced for various crimes.

The Justice Minister explained further that the mobs ransacked the Harper Police headquarters and flogged two detainees severely. The two victims, according to minister, have been accused of being involved in the ritualistic killing in the county.

In order to restore calm in the area, the transitional government has imposed a dust to dawn curfew in the county, while at the same time the government has instituted a thorough probe into circumstances that led to the mob action.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary General Special Representative in Liberia, Ambassador Jacques Paul Klein told journalists in Monrovia that the UN Mission in Liberia is carefully studying the situation in the county.

According to the UN diplomat, UN peacekeepers are on standby to move into the county should the situation continue in an effort to help ensure the safety and security of the people of Maryland. Warning the residents to remain in doors during he curfew which run from 6: PM to 6:AM daily, ambassador Klein said UNMIL will provide full security for the people of the county.

The situation in the past led to severe punishment administered against convicted sons and daughters of the county, with some of them being publicly hanged to death, while others were given long prison sentences. Among those hanged were the former Superintendent of the County, James Anderson, Jr., Allen Yancy, Francis Nyepan, Philip Seton, Oldman Barclay and Madam Wreh Tarnyonoh, just to name few. They were hanged on 17th February 1979 during the regime of the late President William R. Tolbert, Jr. after a guilty verdict was brought down against them for killing a popular Kru traditional singer Moses Tweh.

Similar situation re-emerged in 1986 and took away the lives of two little kids in the county. Those connected to the act include former NDPL county chairman, David Clark, Alfred Davies, Jasper Bedell, Gbason Toe and one Gardner. They were arrested and brought to Monrovia where they were sentenced to prolong detention while under going investigation.

Another 200 persons were round-up by the former Superintendent of the county now Minister of Internal affairs, Minister H. Dan Morais for the mysterious death of Lt. Alphonso Chalde, former employee of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN).

Source: Ritualistic Killings Spark Mob Action in Maryland

Liberia’s elections, ritual killings and cannibalism (2011)

I have written extensively about Liberia’s history of ritual killings, in books, articles, and on my website ‘Liberia: Past and Present of Africa’s Oldest Republic‘, notably in the section ‘Past and Present of Ritual Killings: From Cultural Phenomenon to Political Instrument‘.

I was confronted with the phenomenon of ritualistic murders in Liberia when living in Monrovia – where I taught at the University of Liberia – and, later, in Harper, capital of Maryland County, in the second half of the 1970s. In Harper I witnessed the public execution of the Harper Seven, in 1979. They were convicted of the ritual murder of a fisherman and popular singer, Moses Tweh, and sentenced to death by hanging. The trial of the Harper Seven turned out to be Liberia’s most notorious ritual killing case.

Big shots’ were involved, such as Maryland County’s Superintendent, Daniel Anderson – son of the Chairman of Liberia’s only political party, the True Whig Party – and Allen Yancy, member of the House of Representatives for Maryland County and cousin of former Liberian president William Tubman (1944 – 1971). Reportedly, Allen Yancy had been involved in previous ritual murder cases but he was never convicted, allegedly because of Tubman’s protection.
Ritualistic killings in Liberia have been rampant, and I fear the gruesome practice has far from disappeared – as is demonstrated by the article reproduced below.

The article reproduced below summarizes well Liberia’s recent history of ritualistic murders. What used to be a cultural phenomenon – human sacrifices for the well-being of the clan or tribe – has become a political instrument, used by unscrupulous politicians and businessmen to further their interests.

I will not dwell too long here on these atrocities and outdated but persistent beliefs in supernatural powers. Readers are invited to visit my website for more details.

Last but not least, my publications on ritual murders in Liberia became the prelude to the present website on ritual killings in Africa in general. See the site’s menu, notably the section ‘Why publish this site?

Public execution by hanging of the ‘Harper Seven’, including Maryland Superintendent Daniel Anderson and Representative Allen Yancy, at dawn in Harper, Liberia on February 16, 1979. Picture taken by Fred van der Kraaij (copyrights).


Liberia’s elections, ritual killings and cannibalism

Published: August 01, 2011 · 10:52 AM UTC
By: Emily Schmall and Wade Williams

MONROVIA, Liberia — The pregnant woman was found dead in the shallows of Lake Shepherd. The fetus had been removed.

A candidate for Liberia’s Senate and a former county attorney are among those standing trial for the 2009 murder, the latest in a long history of ritual sacrifices performed for political power in Liberia.

In this case in southeastern Maryland County, prosecutors were tipped off by a witch doctor who provided a list of 18 people allegedly connected to the killing, including Fulton Yancy, the former county attorney, and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Special Envoy and Ambassador-at-Large Dan Morias.

Vials of blood were discovered in Yancy’s home. Nine were charged with murder but were released earlier this month following a Supreme Court ruling.

Liberia will have general elections later this year and the ritual killings tend to flare up during election season, according to Jerome Verdier, former chairman of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

”Unfortunately it happens during elections time because people are competing for political power, they don’t know God and they believe that these supernatural powers will come to them once human blood is shed,” Verdier said.

During Liberia’s two-decades-long civil war hundreds were killed for ritual purposes, the TRC discovered during its hearings.

”During our research at the TRC we found out that bloodshedding was very, very common during the conflict. People killed indiscriminately women and children believing that it would give them some power to continue fighting and that they would be protected,” said Verdier.

Liberia’s Maryland County has traditionally been the hub for the country’s ritual murders. The killings have haunted the southeastern county for decades. In recent years, however, ritual killing cases have cropped up across the country.

Verdier said some of those who confessed at the TRC hearing gave graphic accounts of ritual killings they carried out.

“People went as far as eating their opponent’s body — when such person is killed in battle they cook their body to eat, believing that the spirit, the powerful spirit of that person, will come to them and by eating them, the person’s power is completely destroyed, so there can be no reemergence in that person’s family line or their ethnic line.”

‘General Butt Naked’, a notorious warlord in Liberia’s First Civil war (1989 – 1997) testified and confessed before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that he committed numerous ritualistic murders and ate body parts of his victims.

A former warlord who calls himself General Butt Naked and who fought against former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, confessed in 2008 to taking part in human sacrifices that included the killing of a child and “plucking out the heart, which was divided into pieces for us to eat.”

In 2005, the leader of Liberia’s transitional government, Gyude Bryant, pledged to hang anyone found guilt of ritual killing.

Dispatched to Maryland County by President Johnson Sirleaf to calm residents’ fears earlier this year, Justice Minister Christiana Tah acknowledged that “there are still lots of unresolved cases of this nature,” according to a report in the daily New Democrat.

In a case from the 1970s known as the Maryland Murders, seven people, including Fulton Yancy’s older brother Allen Yancy, a member of the House of Representatives, were hanged for killing a fisherman (see picture above). The following year Defense Minister Gray D. Allison was convicted of killing a police officer whose body was discovered on the Bong Mines railroad, apparently used in a ritual sacrifice. The government at the time displayed blood drained in gallons believed to be that of the dead man.

Dan Morias, one of those accused of the 2009 killing of a pregnant woman, is planning to run for senator in the upcoming legislative elections in October. He has maintained that the charges against him are politically motivated. He must be cleared of the charges to be eligible to run for office.

Morias is listed in the TRC report for alleged abuses committed while he served as Minister of Internal Affairs for the Charles Taylor regime. When reached by GlobalPost, Morias said he could not comment on the case as it would be “prejudicial,” but insisted that the evidence against him — namely the testimony of a witch doctor — was “weak.”

Earlier this year, President Johnson Sirleaf warned Maryland County citizens against seeking retribution for the killings with a traditional practice called “sassywood” or “trial by ordeal.”

The government insists that trial by ordeal is illegal and Johnson Sirleaf banned the practice in April 2007. Since then traditional leaders have been pleading with the government to allow them to practice the act which they believe is the only way justice can be served in cases like these.

“Sassywood” is the insertion of an accused person’s extremity into hot oil or the placing of a heated metal on a suspect’s body. If the suspect is burned then it is concluded that he or she is guilty but if there is no burn then the suspect is deemed innocent and set free. Those found guilty are killed.

The police are working to stamp out both the ritual killings and the “sassywood” practices, said George Bardue, spokesman for the Liberia National Police: “The police are doing everything possible to make sure that these things do not happen.”

Emily Schmall is a multimedia journalist now based in Monrovia, Liberia, where she serves as country director for New Narratives, a journalism mentorship project for women. Wade Williams is a New Narratives fellow and an editor at FrontPage Africa, Liberia’s most widely circulated newspaper.

Source: Liberia’s elections, ritual killings and cannibalism
GlobalPost