Liberia: contradicting statements on the occurrence of ritual killings; man arrested for the selling of human parts

In Liberia, not only impunity reigns – allowing ritual murderers as well as war criminals to walk free. These days also confusion reigns. What is true of the allegations that there’s a surge in ritual murders? Or is it a conspiracy of political opponents who want to discredit the Weah Administration, already heavily criticized for failing to deliver after the election promises which made tens of thousands of young Liberians to vote for the soccer legend?

Whereas the police downplays the present panic which make Liberians staying home after sunset, it also informed the public that a man was arrested with human parts in his possession, apparently for sale. There is only one explanation for this gruesome discovery: there is a market for human parts in Liberia where some people consider human organs and other human parts essential ingredients of ‘juju’. Every Liberian, Sierra Leonean, Gambian, Ghanian, Nigerian knows what ‘juju’ means.

‘Juju’ is being used either to protect, enrich or empower a person, or to put a magic spell on a known or unknown adversary. Belief in it is widespread in West Africa where ignorance and lack of education are the prime causes of the belief in superstition, facilitated by a weak rule of law and impunity resulting from protection by high-placed people. See also my October 1 post (webmaster FVDK).

Alleged Ritualistic Killings in Liberia: False Alarms Or Poor Investigative Skills?

Published: October 4, 2021
By: Obediah Johnson – Front Page Africa, Liberia 

MONROVIA — It appears that the combat against alleged acts of ritualistic killings and kidnapping which have widely been widely reported in Monrovia and other parts adjacent in recent times are far from being thoroughly investigated, culprits arrested and prosecuted, as evidenced by the Minister of Justice Counselor Frank Musa Dean accusing those raising alarms of reportedly failing to aid investigations.

Liberians and other foreign residents in the country continue to wake up to news of kidnapping and the gruesome murders of citizens, especially females in few communities in Montserrado County on a regular basis.

Parts are extracted from the remains of the victims by the unknown perpetrators for ritualistic purposes.

The current situation has instilled fears in Liberians and foreign residents, compelling them to return from their various working and selling places earlier than before.

It has also raised questions and doubts over the ability of state security actions to provide security to Liberians and other foreign residents.

Not showing up

But responding to an inquiry from FrontPage Africa over the week end, Cllr. Dean pointed out that most of those claiming to have been kidnapped have not been coming forth to help the police with investigations.

He made specific reference to one Solomon, who claimed to have been allegedly kidnapped from Caldwell and taken to Gbartala, Bong County.

Police Inspector General Patrick Sudue recently informed the public that the information provided to the police by Solomon was false and misleading.

Phone records which were subpoenaed by the police show that the alleged victim never left Montserrado County all during his alleged kidnapping tale.

According to the records quoted by the IG, Solomon was in Clara Town, Vai Town, New Kru Town, among other places, throughout during his alleged ordeal.

Opposing Pastor’s request

Cllr. Dean pointed out that since raising the false alarm, Solomon has not shown up despite efforts applied by state investigators to request his Pastor, who was not named, to convince him to do so.

“This guy has refused to come forward to aid the police investigation. We summoned his call log. On the day he should have been in the custody of kidnappers in Gbatala, the call log placed him in Dixville and New Kru Town. We contacted his Pastor to bring him in. He is not cooperating with his Pastor”.

Last week, the Liberia National Police arrested a stalwart of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Jethro Saylah Kangar Harris, for allegedly spreading misinformation of ritualistic killing on Facebook.

FrontPageAfrica gathered that Kangar had reportedly posted a picture of a young girl alongside a picture of an open corpse on an autopsy table.

“I’m in tears tonight. It’s so painful how the young people of Liberia are dying mysteriously. This is the late Rolisa N. Gbeintor, alumnae of the Lenn Millar High School. She was murdered and parts of her body were extracted. She had dreams; she had a great future ahead of her but there she lies dead without understanding how”, Harris posted.

Karnga was arrested in Ganta, Nimba County while on a tour with the ANC’s standard bearer, Alexander B. Cummings. He has spent days behind bars.

Family not identified

But Cllr. Dean latest response to the reported death of Rolisa appears like no formal complaint has been made by the family to the LNP.

“We are searching for the parents and family members of Rolisa Gbeintor, who was supposed to have been gruesomely killed”, Cllr. Dean stated.

Another kidnapping story

In another video that went viral on the social media last week, a young lady claimed that she was allegedly kidnapped by a bike rider and another passenger while on her way Red Light to buy her goods.

According to the unidentified lady, a white handkerchief was used by the passenger who sat at her back and she was taken around the Coca Cola Factory Community in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

She claimed that while her face was tied with a black cloth, she was placed in a black jeep and taken to an unknown destination.

“I saw myself in an unfinished building when they took the cloth from my face and I saw five other women that they kidnapped too. They started to carry them one, one in the slaughter room. I could only hear ‘my people your come, God come for me…they are talking this other parts from on me oh. I was the fifth person and when they carried me in the room, I saw the other table and they had different, different instruments for human parts. They put me on the big table and tore my blouse on me, took off the trouble but my woman sickness (menstruation) was on me”.

“They said but how your bought this chicken here; your know the chicken looking like this and we can’t use it for sacrifice so your put the chicken back outside. That’s how they took me down from the table and carry me back in the room. The other woman too had the same woman sickness on her. So, they said they can’t make sacrifice with us so, let just keep them here and in the night we can go dump them by the wayside. They tied our faces from four in the evening Tuesday with the same black cloth and drove us on the road back in the night. We only saw ourselves in front Coca Cola factory”, the unidentified lady stated.

The lady added that she later decided to take the complaint to Zone 5 in the same area, but since then, she has not been called for further questioning.

Lady escaping?

But according to Cllr. Dean, the lady in question has not shown up for further investigations since she provided her initial statement at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police (LNP) on the Capitol Bye-Pass in Monrovia.

He further doubted the possibility of a slaughterhouse being in the densely populated suburb of Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

“From the day this girl came to the Police Headquarters and provided her initial Statement and said she was going to the doctor to return, she has gone underground. Even her family cannot locate her. Where are the families of the slaughtered people? A human slaughter house in Paynesville, such a populated area?”

Will prosecute PLP suspended SG

Meanwhile, Cllr. Dean has pointed out that the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Justice will formally charge and prosecute the suspended acting Secretary General of the People’s Liberation Party (PLP) for illegally possessing and discharging firearm.

Executive members of the Organizing Committee of the PLP suspended the acting Secretary General of the party, Mr. David Woods Beyan, for lying that he was shot by unknown armed robbers, after the police preliminary investigation proved otherwise.

It can be recalled that Mr. Beyan, who is also a founding member of the PLP, claimed that around 3AM on Friday, September 24, 2021, he was shot by unknown armed men for unspecified reasons while on his way home from Kakata, Margibi County where he had reportedly gone on a party function and to attend a family meeting

He told FrontPage Africa via telephone that he noticed two motorbikes carrying four persons tailing him from Mount Barclay and while In the middle of the Parker Paint road, one of the riders reportedly crossed in front his vehicle with speed.

Mr. Beyan claimed that he later got down from his vehicle, in an attempt to compel the bike rider to remove his bike. He was later overpowered by the men and shot on his left thigh.

“They had mask on their faces and I couldn’t recognize any of them. After one of them shot me, they got on the motorbikes and escaped. Right now, I am still feeling pain in my thigh” he told FrontPage Africa via telephone from his hospital bed.

But Cllr. Dean pointed out that the victim shot himself.

His clarification corroborates with information provided by IG Sudue when he appeared on State radio on Wednesday, September 29, 2021.

Police Inspector General Patrick Sudue disclosed that Mr. Beyan told nurses assigned at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center where he had gone for treatment that he mistakenly shot himself in the leg, and the firearm used has been retrieved.

 “This guy shot himself. He carried a weapon he did not know how to operate. We will prosecute him for illegal possession and discharge of firearm” Cllr. Dean stated.

Ghost town

The growing wave of reported kidnapping and ritualistic killings across Monrovia and other parts of the country continue to instill fears in citizens and foreign residents

In Monrovia and other parts adjacent, the streets appear like a “ghost town” and are partially empty as a result of the situation.

Marketers, workers and others are often seen in a hurry during the early evening hours, abroading commercial or private vehicles, tricycles and motorbikes to reach to their respective homes or destinations in a timely manner.

Owners of various businesses, including shops, stores, and supermarkets are constrained to shutdown far sooner than their usual closing times due to the growing wave of insecurity in the post-conflict nation.

It remains unclear whether or not fears of the growing wave of insecurity in Liberia will continue to grapple economic activities or the free movement of citizens and others as state security actors continues to allow those raising alarms to cajole them by giving or falsifying stories that would allow them to escape from investigations.

State actors’ failure

The failure of state security actors, particularly investigators of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to implore additional skills to unearth the truth behind some of these reported kidnapping and ritualistic killings or intensify efforts to hunt and bring forth for investigations those involved or accused remain a major problem confronting the security sector.

On the other hand, the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Ministries of Justice and Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism has not been able to swiftly and adequately respond to videos or photos on kidnapping and ritualistic killings before it goes viral on the social media by critics of the regime, who normally share those videos or photos to satisfy their political or ulterior motives.

This continues to hamper and paint the image, particularly the security condition of Liberia bad to the outside world, especially foreign investors contemplating on coming into the country to do businesses.

Source: Alleged Ritualistic Killings in Liberia: False Alarms Or Poor Investigative Skills?

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Police probe man who confessed to ritualistic activities

Published: October 4, 2021
By: Lincoln G. Peters – The New Dawn, Edited by Winston W. Parley

The Liberia National Police (LNP) says it has arrested and is investigating a 22 – year -old man for his alleged confession of being involved in the kidnapping and selling of human parts across the country.

Suspect Gbala Samula was arrested Saturday, 2 October 2021 in VOA Community, Brewerville, Montserrado County, by the Zone 6 police detachment for allegedly confessing that he has negotiated to sell human parts to a funeral home based in the VOA Community around the beachside.

The accused was not arrested with human parts, but trading in human parts could be considered ritualistic activity.

Confirming the arrest and investigation of suspect Samula, Police Spokesman Moses Carter told our reporter in a telephone conversation Sunday, 3 October that police are having the suspect in their custody for investigation over his alleged role in the kidnap and selling of human parts.

According to Carter, the suspect allegedly told the police that he was convinced by his friend to join him in the kidnapping of human beings and selling of human parts across the country, on grounds that it has money. Carter said the suspect did not name the friend, neither did he state where the friend was residing.

The police spokesman explained further that the funeral home that the suspect, Samula referenced has denied his allegations, saying it is in no business of buying human parts.

Carter refused to disclose the name of the funeral home but pointed out that police are investigating the suspect and if he fails to provide his colleagues and other information, he will be jailed for spreading falsehood and causing panic in the country.

But speaking in a live interview with local broadcaster Voice of Liberia (VOL) Saturday, 2 October 2021 at the Zone 6 police detachment in Brewerville, suspect Samula said he came from Sawelor Town in Grand Cape Mouth County and to live with his big brother in Brewerville, VOA Community.

Suspect Samula narrated that he was engaged by a guy who had proposed that they should sell human beings to get money.

Source: Police probe man who confessed to ritualistic activities

And:

As Police Vows To Arrest Alarming Posters On Social Media, Man Arrested For Alleged Ritualistic Activities

Published: October 4, 2021
By: Cholo Brooks – GNN, Liberia

Barely a week now since the leadership of the Liberia National Police (LNP) vowed to bring to book of those who post on social media of mysterious killings and disappearances, latest report being highlighted in the media over the weekend has indicated that the police has arrested and is investigating a 22 – year -old man for his alleged confession of being involved in the kidnapping and selling of human parts across the country.

Suspect Gbala Samula was arrested Saturday, 2 October 2021 in VOA Community, Brewerville, Montserrado County, by the Zone 6 police detachment for allegedly confessing that he has negotiated to sell human parts to a funeral home based in the VOA Community around the beachside.

The accused was not arrested with human parts, but trading in human parts could be considered ritualistic activity.

Confirming the arrest and investigation of suspect Samula, Police Spokesman Moses Carter told our reporter in a telephone conversation Sunday, 3 October that police are having the suspect in their custody for investigation over his alleged role in the kidnap and selling of human parts.

According to Carter, the suspect allegedly told the police that he was convinced by his friend to join him in the kidnapping of human beings and selling of human parts across the country, on grounds that it has money. Carter said the suspect did not name the friend, neither did he state where the friend was residing.

The police spokesman explained further that the funeral home that the suspect, Samula referenced has denied his allegations, saying it is in no business of buying human parts.

Carter refused to disclose the name of the funeral home but pointed out that police are investigating the suspect and if he fails to provide his colleagues and other information, he will be jailed for spreading falsehood and causing panic in the country.

But speaking in a live interview with local broadcaster Voice of Liberia (VOL) Saturday, 2 October 2021 at the Zone 6 police detachment in Brewerville, suspect Samula said he came from Sawelor Town in Grand Cape Mouth County and to live with his big brother in Brewerville, VOA Community.

Suspect Samula narrated that he was engaged by a guy who had proposed that they should sell human beings to get money.

In a related development, the Liberia National Police says it has begun investigating social media false alarm posters, noting that it  has been drawn to the constant habit of some unscrupulous citizens who are bent on posting false alarm information intended to instill fear in citizens and residents of the country.

These false alarm posters are posting horrible photos and videos of fake incidents which are solely intended to portray the country as unsafe and instill fear in the citizenry of the country.

Hence, LNP investigators with immediate effect have been mandated by the Inspector General of Police, Hon. Patrick Sudue to ensure that the social media is monitored regularly and that those who post information aimed at creating fear must be invited for questioning and subsequent prosecution if probable cause is established.

The LNP admonishes administrators of various social media chatrooms to scrutinize information that is placed in their various chatrooms and report those who are in the constant habit of posting said information.

The LNP will not hesitate to ensure that administrators of chatrooms who do not exercise due diligence in the contents that are posted on their various platforms are invited for questioning.

To this end, the LNP envisages that a proper scrutiny of various information placed in chatrooms by administrators will curtail the barrage of inciteful and fearful photos and videos that are circulating on social media.

Together, we can help to make Liberia a better and peaceful nation for all.  It press release issued by H. Moses Carter, Sr., Head Press and Public Affairs  Liberia National Police (U-122)  Tel: 0770800122, noted

Source: As Police Vows To Arrest Alarming Posters On Social Media, Man Arrested For Alleged Ritualistic Activities

Another plea to hold the Liberian Government accountable and to end ritual killings,’a part of the political culture for decades’

The recent surge in ritualistic killings in Liberia (see my previous posts, September 30,  and October 1) has provoked many reactions including the comments presented below. The Liberian author, J. Patrick Flomo, relates ritual killings to elections and the involvement of high-ranking people, politicians and others (in Liberia called ‘big shots’), who often protect the ‘boyos’ or ‘heartmen’ who have actually carried out the dirty work – which explains the ‘impunity’.

Why is the belief in the power of ‘juju’ obtained by human sacrifice so persistent in Liberia (and other countries, as demonstrated by other country pages of the present site)? Aren’t we living in the 21st century? There is no place for these heinous crimes in a modern society.

Recommended reading: Past and Present of Ritual Killings in Liberia – From Cultural Phenomenon to Political Instrument (webmaster FVDK).

Ritualistic killing in Liberia with impunity

Published: October 3, 2021
By: J. Patrick Flomo – The Perspective, Atlanta/Georgia

The author, J. Patrick Flomo

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for the I the Lord they God am a jealous God…”
Exodus 20: 3 & 5

The lack of strong condemnation from the government on this wanton human abomination demonstrates the degree of the moral bankruptcy of this government. And the dearth of public outrage and outcry for justice (especially from the religious community that proclaims to be the custodian or the fountain of our morality) is a manifestation that our moral compass and sense of humanity is pointing not toward the North Star, but to the abyss of vile and human wantonness. This should not be happening in the 21st century of human civilization.

Webster defines ritual murder as the sacrificial slaying of a human as a propitiatory offering to a deity.  It is confounding that in this age of advanced human “civilization” full of cosmopolitanism, education, and technological wonders, barbaric human sacrificial practices are still exercised in Liberia among a certain segment of society — mainly, the politicians.

This abominable practice within Liberian society is motivated by lust for power and wealth.  In Liberia, the path to power, wealth, and affluence is to seek first “the political kingdom,” not hard work and the sweat of thy brow as found in Genesis 3:19: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken…”  This insidious craving for power and wealth has warped some Liberian politicians so that they plunge into the pit of human depravity.  In the post-war era, corpses have turned up missing eyes, tongues, and other parts, particularly during election season. Liberians associate these killings with political elites, who are said to use the parts in rituals that they think will give them a spiritual edge in winning an election or receiving a promotion.  In late 2015, the United Nations released a human rights report about Liberia that devoted an entire chapter to the issue. In response, Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s outgoing president, admitted that ritual killings were on the rise and vowed to “bring this ugly situation under immediate control.” (www.guernicamag.com/).

Ritualistic killings have been part of Liberia’s political culture for decades.  We all have known it for years yet have not collectively fought vigorously to stop it.  Ritual sacrifices usually spike during presidential and legislative elections.  In 2023, we will have presidential and legislative elections.  It’s no wonder the spike in ritual killings. Human sacrifices have been part of our history as a species.  But with the advent of the Enlightenment in Europe (the age of reason and empirical scientific revolution), human sacrifice was shown to have no substantive value and was immoral and antithetical to reason and logic.  By the end of the enlightenment period, human sacrifice had waned in most of Europe and around the world; however, two centuries later, it is still practiced illegally in Liberia but with impunity because the perpetrator/s is rarely brought to justice.  

I find it extremely confounding and incredulous that Liberian society, especially the government, seems to have a benign acceptance of these depraved and abominable acts.   These acts should cause moral outrage among Liberians everywhere around the globe.  But wretchedly and shockingly, that is not the case.  For example, the horrific case of a very young woman killed with all inner organs missing should have all Liberians apoplectic and demanding that the government find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. NO! We are all silent at home and in the diasporas.  This is a societal travesty of unprecedented proportion committed by us all.  Liberia is awash in a proliferation of churches.  It seems the country is in a vast religious awakening, and yet such demonic practices are not vigorously condemned. 

When a former Methodist minister decided to run for county superintendent, court papers charge, he tried to add special ingredients to the campaign.  The candidate, David K. Clarke, and three politically ambitious friends ”agreed to kidnap and murder a human being to obtain body parts after having consulted with a native witch doctor.”  A few days later, Liberian newspapers reported, two small boys were found dead on a riverbank. Mr. Clarke and five other men were arrested and charged with ritual murder.  Decades of preaching in churches and mosques have failed to eradicate West Africa’s feared practice of ”juju” or ”harsh medicine.” Practiced by ”boyos” or ”heartmen,” human sacrifice for individual advancement is often reported in newspapers in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria (New York Times: Monday, May 4, 1987).

While the world is struggling to attain a perfect human civilization, Liberia seems to be regressing into the abyss of human degradation and darkness. This act of barbarity in 2021 is a classic case that should cause all Liberians in the diasporas to call their various embassies for an answer and urge the government to end this abomination in Liberia. Incredulously, that is not happening.  Is there any act of human abomination or barbarism that will provoke the Liberian people to anger and hold their government accountable?  If this gruesome depiction of this dead young girl does not anger Liberians everywhere, then I question if Liberians really have souls or a conscience.

Source: Ritualistic Killing In Liberia With Impunity

Liberia – Political map

Liberia: growing anxiety over ritual killings and the political fallout from the recent surge in ritualistic murders

Liberia is again in the grip of ritualistic murders. An alarming wave of insecurity terrorizes the population. Reportedly, secret and ritualistic murders are being committed. The Liberia National Police is pressed by the public to do more. President Weah is being asked to address the nation and speak out against these heinous crimes, which are far from uncommon in Liberia.

In the past, ambitious politicians have been found involved in ritualistic activities including murder. The presidential elections of 2023 are still far away but politicians and their supporters are already preparing for a fierce election campaign. Moreover, on November 16 of this year, by-elections will be held in Bomi, Bong, Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties to fill the vacancies in the House of Representatives following the election of Representatives in the Senate in December 2020.  

The combined opposition – the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) including the ANC, ALP, UP and the LP – has to come to grips with the internal battle for a unique, common presidential candidate for the 2023 elections if it wants to defat the incumbent president.  However, its political leaders: ANC leader Alexander Cummings, the UP candidate and former Vice President Joseph Boakai, ALP’s Benoni Urey and Grand Bassa County Senator and political leader of Liberty Party, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, are not on the same line when it comes to a common candidate.

The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change is also far from homogeneous. The coalition is composed of Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change plus the National Patriotic Party of warlord-turned-into-president Charles Taylor, now led by one of his ex-wives, Jewel Howard Taylor, currently Vice President in the Weah Administration, and the Liberian People Democratic Party of the corrupt and for this reason disgraced former House Speaker Alex Tyler. It is a public secret that relations between the Present and his Vice President are far from harmonious.

The foregoing does not pretend to provide an answer to the question why there’s currently a surge in ritualistic killings in Liberia – assuming that reports of a surge in ritual murders are not unfounded. Moreover, as one newspaper commented, ‘There is speculation that the majority of those who disappear perpetually without a trace are often victims of ritual killings.’ 

The Inspector General of the Liberia National Police, Colonel Patrick Sudue, has labelled the reports on ritualistic murders as fake news, accusing the opposition of tarnishing the good reputation of the Weah Administration. In sharp contrast, however, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor publicly disagreed with him, pleading for an end to the many mysterious deaths that are linked to ritualistic killings.

Be that as it may, Liberia’s human rights reputation, which wasn’t that good anyway, is being further damaged by these reports of ritualistic and secret killings whereas critics  of president Weah who accuse him of inaction will be more convinced than ever that he is not the right man in the right place. 

As an observer of Liberian politics since the 1970s I’m afraid that this is not the end of the story…

To be continued (webmaster FVDK).

Public anxiety over ritual killings increases; President Weah must address the nation and speak out on the scourge of ritualistic killings in Liberia

Published: September 30, 2021
By: Editorial Board, Front Page Africa, Liberia 

THE SPATE OF KILLINGS for ritual purposes is gradually assuming an alarming rate in Liberia with little or no effort by government of President George Weah to checkmate the trend.

OFFICIAL STATISTICS indicate that there has been an increase in the number of missing persons all over the country in recent times. Some are found, while others are not. 

THERE IS SPECULATION that the majority of those who disappear perpetually without a trace are often victims of ritual killings.

ONE WOULD HAVE expected such acts to be a thing of the past following decades of civil war in Liberia which claimed the lives of over 150, 000 people, and made hundreds of thousands became refugees throughout the region. 

BUT SADLY murdering people to appease the deities appears to be on the increase in Liberia.

THESE RITUALISTS hide under different covers to get their victims. For some, they kidnap their victims from various points, while others who pretend to be commercial drivers, pick unsuspecting commuters at bus-stop only to take them to their slaughter slabs to carry out what they know how to do best.

RECENTLY, the lifeless body of a girl believed to be in her 30s was discovered in Caldwell with body parts extracted.Till date perpetrators of the dastardly act are yet to be found.

A DAY EARLIER, another lifeless body of a man believed to be in his 40s was found in the Soul Clinic community. As at the time his body was recovered, some parts had been removed. They included his penis, eyes and tongue. Still, the perpetrators have not been arrested.

GIVEN THE RATE of increase of ritual killings in Liberia, no one is immune from becoming a victim. But some people are at greater risk. People with mental illnesses and virgins are unique targets as the ritualists allegedly believe that their eccentrics and purity make for a more viable sacrifice. 

ALSO, PEOPLE living with albinism have equally become victims of ritual killings, fuelled by the belief that their ‘body parts’ could allegedly make one wealthy or prolong one’s life.

IT IS DISHEARTENING to point out that as developed countries invest in science and technology to keep abreast with a dynamic world, Liberia is still stuck in the mistaken belief that sacrificing human blood is the surest route to wealth, safety, and protection.

IT’S TIME the government of President Weah play a more active role in ameliorating the negative impact of these dastardly acts?

POVERTY AND ECONOMIC hardship in the country are reasons for ritual killings. However, these are not justifiable reasons to commit ritual murder. Impunity encourages ritualists to commit murders because they believe they will not be apprehended or punished.

ANOTHER REASON for ritual murders is the collapse in our moral values, ignorance and superstition, and lack of an adequate punishment system. 

WE SHOULD also consider poverty and unemployment as significant risk factors. If Liberians have equal opportunities to earn income legitimately, there will be a reduction in horrific crimes such as banditry and human killings for ritual.

THE HIGH INCIDENCE of serial ritual killings in Liberia demands an urgent action at the level of the government of President Weah.

TO CURB THE INCREASE in ritual killings, government should thoroughly explore the intelligence-gathering approach. Timely arrest and prosecution of arrested suspects would serve as a deterrent to anybody contemplating perpetrating ritual killing.

RECORD OF SUCCESSFUL prosecution of ritualists is not in the public domain. When there are no consequences for deviant behavior, it is incentivized.

THE CONSCIENCE of Liberians are being troubled by reports of recent ritual murders including that of  those whose body parts were ripped out for ritual purposes.

LIBERIANS SEEM to be rapidly losing faith in the ability of President Weah and his government to detect and punish ritual killers, and it’s time President Weah act to address the scourge in ritualistic activities in Liberia.

THE SOONER, the better..

Source: President Weah Must Address the Scourge of Ritualistic Killings in Liberia

and:

A heartbreaking plea to political parties, religious and civil society leaders

Just where is our President and why has he maintained such a conspicuous silence in the face of mounting cries of the people craving the intervention of the state to protect their lives?

Published: September 30, 2021
By: Staff Editor – The Daily Observer, Liberia

This is a plea to Civil Society, Religious Leaders and political parties, especially the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), to act in concert and speak with one voice on the deteriorating security situation in the country. Every God-sent day is replete with accounts of mysterious and brutal killing of peaceful citizens apparently for ritualistic purposes.

This is also a plea to civil society and their respective organizations to become seized of the current situation and also speak with one voice on the current situation. From all indications, this government is failing to protect the people and this does not augur well for peace and national security.

We say this because there is an inherent danger in allowing things to deteriorate to the point where ordinary citizens begin to take action to protect themselves from harm. Judging from reports, it appears that females are being particularly targeted but in the face of such assaults against our women, especially, not a word has been heard from the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) and the same goes for other women groups.

Religious leaders, Muslim as well as Christian, etc., have also failed to take up the issue as a matter of priority concern. Innocent children of God are being slaughtered like animals, but the voices of our religious leaders have either been silent or at best feeble. Just where are our so-called men of God in the face of such brutal onslaught against the children of God, one is tempted to ask.

More importantly, just where is our President and why has he maintained such a conspicuous silence in the face of mounting cries of the people craving the intervention of the state to protect their lives? The Police have not proved very helpful in the eyes of the public. 

Such displayed ineptitude by the Liberia National Police (LNP) in addressing urgent security concerns of the people is leaving most people with the impression that the rise in ritualistic killings and other forms of violence is linked to top officials of this government. In their view, this is why such killings continue to happen despite massive public outcry.

In such situations, opposition political parties, religious leaders and civil society organizations are usually looked up to for help and guidance. But to the disappointment of the public, they also seem to appear helpless to deal with the situation. Whether their inaction is borne out of fear and trepidation, or out of a desire to ingratiate themselves into the good favors of the President, remains unclear.

For now, it is basically the media which has inadvertently found itself thrust into the fore to speak out on behalf of a seemingly helpless people. Their efforts are indeed commendable but grossly insufficient without the active support of civil society, including political parties and religious organizations. They cannot afford to wait until things run out of hand before they can muster the courage to step up to the plate.

For the past few weeks, the media has been awash with reports of the ongoing feud within the CPP, which has been touted as the last bastion capable of restoring hope of Liberians for sustainable peace and giving the people some respite from the suffering and hardships being experienced under the leadership of the Coalition for Democratic Change.

This coalition composed of the National Patriotic Party of disgraced and imprisoned war convict Charles Taylor, and the Liberian People Democratic Party of disgraced former House Speaker Alex Tyler, was hailed by its supporters as the answer to Liberia’s problems, following President Weah’s selection of Charles Taylor’s ex-wife Jewel Howard Taylor as Vice President. 

Under the rule of her ex-husband Taylor, Liberia became a pariah state largely as a result of runaway corruption and the massive and egregious human rights abuses committed under his watch by his security forces.

But those very vices that eventually led to Taylor’s disgraceful exit from power and subsequent trial and conviction on war crimes, appear to have now taken center-stage under the current ruling Coalition. In the face of this, civil society, including political parties especially the CPP, appear to have their attention fixed elsewhere. The CPP, for example, finds itself locked in a bitter and seemingly unending internecine feud.

Whether ANC leader Alexander Cummings and UP leader and former Vice President Joseph Boakai will find common ground on the question of who has the popularity and political strength to lead the Collaboration to elections in 2023 is anyone’s guess.

While Joseph Boakai appears to enjoy overwhelming support in vote-rich Lofa County, the same cannot be said of Alexander Cummings in any county including his home country Maryland. It may therefore be suicidal were he to quit the CPP to go it alone. And apparently he realizes this and such could be reasons why he has declared that leaving the CPP is a non-option.

Similarly, it can be said that it would be suicidal for Joseph Boakai to leave the CPP to go it alone. Both individuals appear hopelessly stuck together with each wanting out, but too timid to make the break for fear of the consequences. But the Liberian people cannot forever wait for justice, neither can they forever wait on the government to bring ritualistic killings to an end.

This can perhaps explain why there are increasing calls from the public for the reintroduction of the Death Penalty to serve as deterrent to would be ritual killers. They point to the United States of America, the foremost global champion of Human Rights, which still maintains the Death Penalty without censure from international human rights institutions. Then, why not Liberia, they ask.     

And their point of reference is the 1977 trial, conviction and public hanging, in Harper, Maryland County of several individuals including a former Superintendent involved in the ritual murder of Moses Tweh, a popular folk singer, which put a stop to ritual killings in that country for a long period.

Source: A Plea to Political Parties, Religious Leaders and Leaders of Civil Society

PS Note of the webmaster: For a detailed overview of the arrest and trial of the defendants accused of the ritual killing of Moses Tweh, see: ‘The Maryland Ritual Murders – Liberia’s most notorious ritual killing case‘. Warning: some readers may find the graphic contents, description of the ritual murder and the accompanying pictures disturbing (FVDK). 

The 7 convicted ritual killers who were sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of Moses Tweh: Allen Yancy, James Anderson, Francis Nyepan, Philip Seton, Wreh Taryonnoh, Putu Dweh and Thomas Barclay.
For more information click here 
The public execution took place in Harper, Maryland County, on February 16, 1979

More recent articles:

Liberia National Police Inspector General says reports of ritualistic killings, disappearances are fake news and intended to malign government’s image

Published: September 30, 2021
By: Willie N. Tokpah – Front Page Africa, Liberia

Monrovia — In recent months, reported cases of ritual killings have surged in Liberia, but the country’s Police Inspector General, Patrick Sudue and his deputy Prince Mulbah say such reports are untrue and being fueled by opposition politicians to tarnish the image of the government.

Sudue and Mulbah, at a news conference Wednesday, disclosed that the police are only aware of a single ritualistic incident, which occurred in MaryLand County recently, adding the perpetrators are facing justice.

“People are being paid to tarnish the image of the country and to raise false national security alert. There are inconsistencies in their statements,” Sudue says.

Meanwhile, Mulbah, Deputy Police Inspector General for Administration, described information about ritualistic killings in the country as a ploy designed by the opposition to create fear for diaspora Liberians who want to return home.

“As far our investigations are concerned, we haven’t established anything called ritualistic killing apart from what happened in Maryland County,” Mulbah says.

“We have heard a lot of people talking on social media of people being kidnapped and taken away, these are paid agents.”  

A rising number of mutilated bodies on streets in Monrovia and other parts of the country this year has sown fear in Liberians.

Recently, the lifeless body of a girl believed to be in her 30s was discovered in Caldwell with body parts extracted.Till date perpetrators of the dastardly act are yet to be found.

A day earlier, another lifeless body of a man believed to be in his 40s was found in the Soul Clinic community. As at the time his body was recovered, some parts had been removed. They included his penis, eyes and tongue. Still, perpetrators have not been arrested.

Liberians have taken to social media to raise alarm about the rise in ritual activities, urging commuters to always write down the identification markings of public conveyance vehicles as they enter and make phone calls to loved ones to pass on the information. 

But Sudue said most of these social media pictorials and videos about ritualistic incidents are not a representation of what is unfolding in the country.

He warned those involved in orchestrating a negative image about the country to desist, or face the full weight of the law.

The rise in ritualistic killings has claimed the attention of opposition political leaders, who are calling on President George Weah to redirect every penny he intends to spend on his 55th birthday celebrations on Friday, October 1.

Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Wednesday said the country is fast becoming a cesspool of crime ranging from these mysterious killings, armed robbery, drug dealing, and money laundering.

“This is in addition to the numerous past mysterious deaths of the auditors, the missing boys and other violent crimes that are yet to be investigated or the perpetrators found,” he says.

“It is clear that our security sector is under-staffed, under-paid and overwhelmed. This can not continue. I am calling on the President to redirect every penny he intends to spend on his elaborate and glamorous birthday celebration, into the security sector. We need to empower our community policing and night patrol and strengthen community vigilante groups to work with the Police in each community. This should include the distribution of basic materials and basic training. We need to also investigate these crimes with a sense of urgency and bring perpetrators to justice. The government needs to get to work.”

Grand Bassa County Senator and political leader of Liberty Party, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, who’s in the United States of America, said she would start a women movement against the ritualistic killings of children, mothers and sisters, brothers and  husbands upon her return to Liberia.

Sen. Karnga-Lawrence called on all women to rise up and ensure that the serial killings are brought to an end. “The voices of women must be heard at every level, from the vice president down. This must stop, our survival is at stake and Liberia must be safe for all of us,” Sen. Karnga-Lawrence says.

Dr. Daniel E. Cassel of the People’s Liberation Party (PLP), whose secretary general, David Beyan, was reportedly shot by unknown gunmen, called on the government of President George Weah to address the issue of ritualistic killings in the country. 

“This is the time for President Weah to act quickly and bring an end to the end to the rise in ritualistic killings,” Dr. Cassel says.

Reacting to the reported shooting incident of Beyan, Sudue rejected claims that the PLP secretary general was shot by unknown gunmen.

He claimed Beyan lied about being shot infront of his fence when medical records showed that he (Beyan) told doctors that he shot by himself.

“I think if this young man would have killed himself, the whole country would say it is the government that killed him. He lied about being shot,” Sudue says.

Sudue claimed a shell from a firearm was seen in Beyan’s vehicle, which confirmed medical records that he shot himself.

After being thoroughly quizzed about the situation, coupled with medical proof, Beyan couldn’t lie, Sudue said.

“He told us that he criminally and knowingly took the weapon from residence as far as 20 Street and then to Soul Clinic community to hide the weapon,” Sudue claimed.

However, he said the police are in possession of a weapon by Beyan as he undergoes investigation at the Police headquarters in Monrovia.

“We will prosecute him for illegal possession of firearm and raising false alarm to security apparatus.”

At the same time, Inspector General Sudue has disclosed that the LNP has increased its patrols in major streets and communities, and has begun vigorous search and inspection operations to combat crimes in the country.

He said the LNP will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the country is stable and peaceful and that citizens are protected.

Source: Liberia: Inspector General of Police Says Multiple Reports of Ritualistic Killings, Disappearances Are Fake News Intended to Malign Government’s Image

And:

Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor disagrees with Liberia National Police Inspector General  that opposition is responsible for reports of ritualistic killings

Published: September 29, 2021
By: Henry Karmo – Front Page Africa, Liberia 

MONROVIA – Vice president Jewel Howard has joined the many voices of Liberians calling for an end to the mysterious killings of Liberians and wants those in authority of the security to take action that would end the many mysterious deaths that are linked to ritualistic killings.

In an interview with reporters, Liberia’s Vice President said, women in Liberia are feeling more insecure   than ever before in the history of Liberia. She placed more emphasis on the mysterious deaths of women for ritualistic purposes.

“I like to call upon our security sector to please put in place a regime that will enable our people to remain safe. The situation involves instances where women’s private parts are being cutoff, stories of young people being taken in specific location where others allegedly were being used for ritualistic purposes are very alarming.”

The VP also expressed hopes that in this 21st century, it will be easy for security apparatus to discover and arrest people involved in such killings of Liberians for the purpose of ritualistic killings because these acts have far reaching negative implication for the peace and security of Liberia and the investment climate.

Madam Taylor: “As far as I know, Government’s responsibility is to provide the peace and security of its people, that is why we have the different security apparatus of our country. If this was just one case people will want to wait but it is alarming; every single morning there is a report of a dead body somewhere.

“In a country like Liberia, such a thing that is happening should not be happening, so I believe we should call on all of our security forces to do more.”

 The VP also told reporters that complaints from the police and other security entities about the lack of logistic should not be an excuse, because that is a responsibility they have taken.  “The police should be more vigilant if it requires bringing in the army, we should do that because it is alarming,” she said.

She also seems to have a different belief to that of many, especially those in government, who think the alarming rate of mysterious deaths is a strategy implored by the opposition to make the state ungovernable for the ruling CDC.

According to her, such portrayal of what is happening is hard to believe because nobody will want to kill innocent Liberians because they want to make Liberia ungovernable.   

“If an opposition or politicians do that, it will be ungovernable for everyone. If we are the sitting government we must now do more to make sure that whatever is happening will be brought to an end. This is a planned act carried out by some group of people.”

Source: Liberia: VP Taylor Differs Calls on Police to Take Charge; Disagrees that Opposition is Responsible for Reports of Ritualistic Killings

Finally:

Federation of Liberian Youth condemns series of secret & ritualistic killings

Published: September 29, 2021
By: Press Release – Front Page Africa, Liberia

MONROVIA – The Federation of Liberian Youth said it is troubling the alarming wave of insecurity currently existing in Liberia.

The group through its President Amos Williams said the terrifying decline in national security is worrisome and needs to be addressed.

Mr. Williams said the growing waves of recent ritualistic and series of secret killings have the propensity to undermine the current and uninterrupted peace which the general population has enjoyed for over fifteen years now.

As a means of addressing the issue, FLY has therefore called on the attention of President George Weah including the Ministry of Justice and the Liberian National Police (LNP) to promptly act in addressing decisively the current state of insecurity by providing safety and security to all citizens and foreign residents alike in the borders of Liberia. 

Mr. Williams at the same time encouraged all citizens to be supportive and attentive in providing any important information which can be used by national security apparatus in accordance with the growing waves of insecurities in the country.

In a move to practically address the issue, FLY wants the Government to acknowledge the issue of insecurity in the Land and address it hands down.

Source: FLY Condemns Series Of Secret & Ritualistic Killings

Liberia – political map

Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) asks government to speed upon ‘albino’ cases, criticises cover-ups and the protection of high-placed politicians

Unfortunately, the below article contains a too familiar story. Attacks on persons with albinism, mutilation, murder, involvement of high-placed politicians, cover up practices. The President of the Associations of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Ian Simbota, again turned his attention to the country’s rulers and requested the government of President Lazarus Chakwera to speed up all abduction and murder cases which targeted people with albinism (PWA) for ritualistic purposes, often involving high-profile politicians.

It is shocking to read the following article. I won’t repeat here what follows. Once more, however, I want to draw attention to these heinous crimes which threaten people with albinisme on a daily basis. Ritual murders must end. Politicians and other culprits who are involved must be apprehended, put on trial and sentenced. Simultaneously, a national awareness campaign must start, emphasizing the sanctity of life, the need to protect innocent people, the promotion of human rights notably to right to live and the right to live without fear. The government must take its responsibility and act accordingly – or resign.
(webmaster FVDK).

APAM asks Tonse Alliance Govt. to speed upon ‘albino’ cases

Published: April 29, 2021
By: Nyasa Times – Tiwonge Kumwenda

Source: APAM asks Tonse Alliance Govt. to speed upon ‘albino’ cases

Group of Liberian citizens petitions US Government on mysterious deaths, ritualistic, secret killings in Liberia

After yesterday’s article on the spread of ritualistic killings in Liberia by the Daily Observer, this leading Liberian newspaper surprises us today again with another article focusing a phenomenon which seems so difficult to eliminate in this West African country. Another group of citizens is protesting against the mysterious deaths in the country, which they blame on certain people responsible for ritualistic and secret killings. Citizens against secret killings (CUASK) allege that while the Sirleaf administration era saw a number of mysterious, ritualistic deaths as well as secret killings, such deaths are even more alarming under the George Weah administration.

True of untrue? It’s a fact that nobody in Liberia is surprised by news of another ritual murder that has been committed. In the last paragraph of the Daily Observer newspaper article – presented below – two recent examples are being given.

A 46-year old woman named Florence Massaquoi was found dead on the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Boulevard, in the Greater Monrovia area, with some body parts missing. In Maryland County, Mordecial Nyemah, a twelfth-grade student of Pleebo High School, was murdered for ritualistic purposes, causing a major protest and rioting from angry citizens. See my earlier postings on this murder case, dated April 3, ‘Liberia: protests inMaryland County over alleged ritual killing of young people‘, April 5, ‘Liberia: Maryland County student leader condemns allied ritualistic murder, recalling similar cases‘, and April 22, ‘Ritual murders in Liberia, a remarkable plea: ‘Dire need to respect the sanctity of human life in Liberia‘.

Ritualistic murders in Liberia, when wil it end? Will it ever end?

The Government of Liberia needs to act, NOW. If it’s not part of the solution, it’s part of the problem (webmaster FVDK).

Group Petitions U.S. Gov’t on Mysterious Deaths, Ritualistic, Secret Killings in Liberia

Rufina Earley, widow of EPS Melvin Earley makes statement at the memorial service after CUASK’s petition presentation to the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia.

Published: April 23, 2021
By: Daily Observer, Liberia, David S. Menjor

-As families of the deceased fear for their lives for speaking in public on how they feel about the loss of their loved ones

A group of angry citizens, some of whom are mourning the mysterious deaths of their loved ones, marched on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 marched petitioned the United States government, through its Embassy near Monrovia to call on President George Weah administration to see reason and conduct further investigations in order to establish causes of the deaths and bring the perpetrators to book.

The group, under the banner “Citizens United Against Secret Killings (CUASK)” said they are saddened to know that the Liberian government has failed or is failing to properly investigate circumstances leading to the deaths of a number of people, including some high profile government officials including security personnel, financial experts, among others.

CUASK said it strongly believes that there are hidden motives behind the alleged killings of several of those who lost their lives and that the only way those motives can be aborted and prevented from causing further harm in the Liberian society is to incessantly push the government to act appropriately rather than what they have so far done.

“We are aware that the secret and ritualistic killings have been going on, even in the previous government but the exponential rate at which it is now going is alarming. We say so because we never tell who is next among us who have come to present this petition today,” said Jethro Emmanuel Kolleh, leader of CUASK.

Kolleh added: “We also believe that the autopsy reports given were done surreptitiously to cover the facts. The doubtful reports by these governments, we mean the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led administration and now the Weah led administration, have left us in fear about the growing rate of impunity.

“In fact, impunity has become a monster among us and if nothing is done about it now; there may be more disastrous happenings across the country, with the perpetrators having nothing to fear simply because they will be pre-informed that doing wrong, no matter how grievous, is nothing to worry about in the country.”

In their petition, CUASK listed several names of people, including children who died through alleged questionable means as raised by the concerned citizens.

“Our motto is “All Liberians Lives Matter,” and this is why we will not stop mentioning the names of all those great sons and daughters who died under mysterious circumstances,” Kolleh further noted.

He named Harry Greaves, former managing director of Liberia Petroleum Refinery Corporation (LPRC), Michael Allison, a whistle blower and Shakie Kamara, a 15 year old boy in West Point as individuals who died during the administration former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf under troubling circumstances. 

Others who died during the Sirleaf administration and named in the CUASK petition as questionable deaths were Victoria Zayzay, a young lady who Police claimed, committed suicide overnight while in custody and little Angel Togba who lived with Hans Williams and his wife in Monrovia, prior to her (Angel Togba) death which was attributed to suicide.

“We strongly believe that the deaths of Greaves and Allison were political and arbitrary. They were killed but justice was never served,” he emphasized.

The Weah era

Citizens against secret killings (CUASK) said while the Sirleaf administration era saw a number of mysterious, ritualistic deaths as well as secret killings, such deaths are more alarming under the George Weah administration.

The advocacy group said it is disappointed in the George Weah led administration because, while in opposition, they (Coalition for Democratic Change — CDC) condemned former President Sirleaf and her administration for failing to protect the lives they took oaths to protect.

“We are aware that the U.S. government is fully informed on a daily basis about happenings in Liberia. We are aware and that has been made clearly known by the State Department’s human rights report as well as the Global Magnitsky Human Rights and Accountability Act of 2021,” Jethro Kolleh said.

The group referenced the death of Zenu Miller, a journalist at OK FM 99.5 as one case that ended inconclusively, but due to his family’s wish to avoid the unnecessary rigmarole that could have proven nothing worthy, Miller was buried without justice.

Zenu Miller was beaten by Presidential security personnel (Executive Protection Service (EPS) at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex on January 25, 2020. He became sick and was admitted at the ELWA Hospital in Paynesville, the place re stayed at until his passing on February 15 of the same year.

He posted on his Facebook account saying that he was experiencing severe pain in his chest following the EPS’ brutality meted against him but in the end, Miller’s family informed the public that he died of hypertension (high blood pressure).

In October of 2020 alone, three auditors and a tax expert suffered mysterious deaths that raised public outcries.

On October 2, 2020, Gifty Lamah and Albert Peters, workers at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), were found dead on Broad Street in a car said to have been owned by Albert Peters.

Another employee of LRA, Joseph Fahnboto, died two days later, October 4, 2020. 

On October 10, 2020, news broke, announcing the passing Emmanuel B. Nyenswa, head of Liberia’s Internal Audit Agency (IAA).

Following the deaths of the auditors and staffs of LRA and IAA, Dr. Benedict B. Kolee and Dr. Zoebon B. Kpadeh, employees of the Ministry of Health and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital respectively, were hired by government to conduct the autopsies on the remains of the victims.

However, the autopsies reports released by the two pathologists were received with discontent by the public.

In their report, as read by Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean, Gifty Lamah and Albert Peters died in the vehicle due to carbon monoxide.

The reports had it that the IAA boss, Emmanuel Nyenswa died as a result of massive hemorrhage, multiple bone and soft tissue injuries which he sustained after falling from the height of his home.

According to the Justice Minister, the IAA boss’s death requires further investigation, stating that circumstances leading to the cause of his demise are unnatural.

For George Fahnboto, the autopsy report indicated that he died as a result of the accident he was allegedly involved in along the Samuel Kanyon Doe Boulevard while driving.

Following those deaths, Melvin Earley, a U.S.-trained Presidential guard who served former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and later President Weah, was said to have died by suicide using his own gun, while on the nationwide tour with Weah in Tapitta, Nimba County.

The family of Earley and many critics of the Weah led government disagreed with the government’s allegation that he committed suicide. His widow and all of his family members as well as their supporters called on the Weah led government to provide evidence that he (Earley) took his own life, but no report came, according to them, as the widow said there is no death certificate to show cause of her husband’s death.

Several other deaths, mysterious and questionable, occurred in the weeks and months that followed. To name two more, Florence Massaquoi, 46, was found dead on the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Boulevard, with some parts of her body extracted, while in Maryland County, Mordecial Nyemah, a graduating high school student, was killed for ritualistic purpose, causing a major protest and rioting from the angry citizens of the county.

The advocacy group, citizens united against secret killings (CUASK) said they will not rest their pursuit for justice until it is served in each of the cases.

Source: Group Petitions U.S. Gov’t on Mysterious Deaths, Ritualistic, Secret Killings in Liberia

Security challenges in Nigeria

This is the third posting in a row focussing the huge and apparently growing security problems which nearly 200 million Nigerians are facing daily. On January 30, I published Nigeria: curbing the menace of ritual killings in the South West and on January 31 I posted Nigeria: Insecurity: Government must keep its end in this social contract, says Ekhomu.

Nigeria’s security problems have many faces. In the northeast of the country Boko Haram terrorizes the population and has disrupted ordinary, daily life. The exact number of victims of the jihadist terrorist organization which also operates in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, can no longer be counted. It is estimated that since the beginning of the uprising, in 2002,  between 25,000 and 30,000 people have been killed, over two million people have been displaced, and a countless number of children have been kidnapped – girls for sexual motives, boys to be forcibly recruited as soldier in the terrorist organization which originally started as a campaign against corrupt officials.

The seemingly perennial violent conflicts between herders and farmers in several states also have cost thousands of  people their lives. Furthermore, a countless number of people have been abducted by kidnappers, bandits and cultists. Moreover, superstition and the greed for (more) power, prestige or success are at the origin of the notorious ‘money-rituals’ for which Nigeria is known and which is feared by virtually the entire population, not only in the southeastern states as my posting of January 30 could suggest. Last but not least, ‘ordinary’ criminal killings, manslaughter, murder and extrajudicial killings by security personnel add to the many security challenges which Nigeria is facing. 

In the coming days and weeks I will elaborate on the ‘money-rituals’ and the criminal activities of cultists, herbalists, witchdoctors, and other perpetrators of heinous, criminal ritualistic acts. If a government wants to effectively fight and eradicate this ugly, partly traditional phenomenon it will have to take the overall (in)security situation of the country into consideration.

The author of the article reproduced here, Femi Falana, SAN, is a Human Rights Lawyer and a recipient of the prestigious Bernard Simmons Award of the International Bar Association. In his article he explains the violent clashes between herders and farmers, and provides a possible solution to their conflict which basically is a dispute over land. Although the topic of his article is beyond the main focus of the present website, the article is reproduced here in its entirety, not only for a well-deserved respect for the author but also for information reasons as well as to illustrate that for every problems there exists a solution (webmaster FVDK).

Violent Clashes Between Herders and Farmers: A Legal Panacea

Published: February 2, 2021
By: This Day, Nigeria – Femi Falana SAN

Introduction

From 1999 to 2021, thousands of people have been brutally killed in herders/farmers’ clashes in several States of the Federation. The mindless killings have continued, due to official impunity and negligence which have led to the virtual collapse of the security architecture of the neocolonial State. Hundreds of other citizens have been abducted by gangs of kidnappers and bandits. While some of the abducted people were killed in gruesome circumstances, others were released after the payment of ransoms running into hundreds of millions of Naira by their family members. The hardened criminal elements, have subjected abducted women to sexual abuse. Over 100 school girls in captivity, have been forced to marry their abductors. In spite of the routine assurance of the security of life and property of every citizen, the Federal Government appears to have lost the monopoly of violence to the criminal gangs.

As a result of desert encroachment, the Fulani herders have been forced to seek fertile land for grazing of their cattle in the middle belt and southern parts of the country. Since the State has failed to address the challenge of desertification, the herders have continued to graze their cattle in the bush. In the process, they graze their cattle without regard to State laws and the rights of the farm owners. In struggling to survive on fertile land, the herders attack farmers who resist the invasion of their land. They attack farmers with AK 47 rifles, which have been acquired to protect cattle from rustlers. The violent clashes between herders and farmers have continued, due to the failure of successive governments to revive the ranches inherited from the regional governments of the First Republic, but which collapsed during years of the locusts under successive military regimes.

History of Ranching in Nigeria

The point that I am struggling to make is that, ranching is not a new phenomenon in the country. It is on record that the regimes of Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe established ranches in the Northern, Western and Eastern regions respectively. The Obudu Cattle Ranch which was the oldest in the country, was established in 1951 by a Scot, but was later taken over by the Eastern Regional Government. The Northern Regional Government established a ranch in Mokwa (Niger State). In the West, there were ranches in Iseyin (Oyo State), Oke Ako (Ekiti State) and Akunu (Ondo State).

Under the Yakubu Gowon regime (1966-1975) , the Kano State Government headed by Police Commissioner Audu Bako, established ranches in the State. All the ranches collapsed during the years of the locusts, under successive military juntas. The famous Obudu Cattle Ranch has since been turned to Obudu holiday resort.

In 2014, the Jonathan regime decided to establish ranches in the country. A team of young people were sponsored to learn animal husbandry in Botswana, while the sum of N100 billion was released to some State Governments to establish the ranches. In a recent probe, the House of Representatives confirmed that the money was diverted, as not a single ranch was established.

In 2016, the Buhari regime also opted for the establishment of ranches, in order to end the perennial violent conflicts between farmers and herders. About 55,000 hectares were acquired in 11 States, for the project. The Federal Government also announced its plan to disarm the herders, and other armed bandits. But, instead of establishing the ranches and disarming the herders, the Federal Government has handled the violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen rather lackadaisically. The sudden embrace of cattle colony or RUGA policy by the Federal Government, was suspected by many citizens as a design to take over and turn over land seized from farmers to herders.

Clashes and Kidnapping

Even though the dangerous policy has been dropped, the plan to establish ranches has equally been abandoned. In recent times, the clashes between herders and farmers has been compounded by many incidents of kidnapping that have been traced to some herders. Owing to the failure of the Federal Government to bring the situation under control, some people have reported to self help and jungle justice. The various State Governments have come up with policies such as enactment of anti-grazing laws, and compulsory registration of all herders and farmers operating in forest reserves. The Umar Ganduje administration, once invited displaced herders in Benue and Taraba States to Kano state.

Instead of adopting knee jerk reactions to the crisis, the Federal Government and State Governments should encourage the immediate establishment of ranches. Apart from ending clashes between herders and farmers, the policy will lead to large scale production of meat which will be distributed throughout the country, and possibly exported. Ranching is working in Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya and South Africa. It has worked before in Nigeria. It can work again. Let the Authorities move speedily to end the violent clashes between herders and farmers, without any further delay. Let the Authorities adopt proactive measures to end kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and ritual murder, as well as extrajudicial killing by security agencies.

State Governments and Security Challenges

A few years ago, armed robbers launched violent attacks on banks in Lagos State. The criminals killed many bankers, customers and security personnel, and carted away millions of Naira. The then Babatunde Fashola administration, sought the permission of the Federal Government to purchase and import some modern security equipment and gadgets. As soon as the licence was granted by President Umaru Yar’adua, the Lagos State Government brought in the equipment and gave them to the State Police Command. Armed with such equipment, the Police succeeded in securing the banks and other commercial institutions in the State. Shortly thereafter, about 20 well armed members of the Boko Haram sect sneaked into the State and concluded plans to launch bombing attacks on people, religious centres and schools. The terrorists were arrested and detained under the Terrorism Act, a Federal offence. The State Government requested the Federal Government, to try the dangerous suspects.

When it became clear that the Federal Government was foot dragging over the matter, the Attorney-General of Lagos State applied for the fiat of the Attorney-General of the Federation to enable him to prosecute the terror suspects. As soon as the fiat was granted, the suspects were tried, convicted and jailed.

In another development, the State Government faced fresh security challenges when another set of criminal elements embarked on kidnapping school children and other innocent people. Again, with the acquisition of more sophisticated equipment by the Lagos State Government, the Police Command has frontally attacked the crisis and brought the situation under control. About three years ago, the Inspector-General of Police Monitoring Unit recently arrested a billionaire kidnap suspect, Mr. Chukwudimene Onwuamadike (a.k.a Evans). The suspect was alleged to have specialised in extorting millions of dollars and other foreign currencies, from victims of his criminal enterprise. At the end of the Police investigation, the Lagos State Government took over the matter and has since charged the suspect and his cohorts with armed robbery and kidnapping, before the Lagos high court.

Before then, the Ondo State Government had invoked its sovereign powers to deal with the challenge of insecurity. On September 21, 2015, Chief Olu Falae, a former Secretary to the Federal Government was kidnapped by a gang of kidnappers on his farm at Ago Abo in the outskirts of Akure, Ondo State. The criminals demanded a ransom of N100 million, for his release. President Muhammadu Buhari who was embarrassed by the report of the incident, directed the Inspector-General of Police to rescue Chief Falae without further delay. The Chief regained his freedom three days later, after the payment of an undisclosed ransom. The seven kidnap suspects (Abubakar Auta, Bello Jannu, Umaru Ibrahim, Masahudu Mohammed, Idris Lawal, Abdulkadir Umar and Babawo Kato) were arrested and paraded by the Police at Abuja, in the Federal Capital Territory.

As soon as the investigation was concluded by the Police Headquarters, the then Ondo State Government decided to take over the case in exercise its constitutional powers. Since the case had disclosed that the offence of kidnapping was committed in Ondo State, the then State Attorney-General, Mr. Tayo Jegede, SAN requested the Police to transfer the suspects to Akure, together with the case file and the exhibits recovered during the investigation of the case. As soon as the suspects were brought to Akure, they were charged with conspiracy and kidnapping before the Ondo State High Court. At the end of the marathon trial, the presiding Judge, the Honourable Justice Williams Olamide found the Defendants guilty as charged, convicted and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

No doubt, by prosecuting the dangerous kidnappers and armed robbers, both Attorneys-General of Lagos and Ondo States have demonstrated that State Governments are not encumbered from maintaining law and order in their areas of jurisdiction. It is my strong belief that it is the failure of other Attorneys-General to enforce relevant criminal and penal codes, that has led to a breakdown of law in several States of the Federation. Even though hundreds of suspects have been arrested in several parts of the country by the combined teams of Police and Army personnel for abducting several people including children, they have not been brought to book by the Attorneys-General of the affected States. Majority of critics who are not aware that it is the exclusive constitutional responsibility of State Attorneys-General to prosecute suspects indicted for the offences of kidnapping, armed robbery and culpable homicide, have continued to blame the Federal Government for not prosecuting herders who have been arrested by security agencies.

Welfare of the People

Since a country cannot be secured by a Government that is not prepared to attend to the welfare of the people, the Constitution has outlined the socioeconomic rights of the people and embodied them in Chapter two of the Constitution. The said socioeconomic rights are otherwise called, the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. Even though the ruling class has made them not justiciable, the workers in alliance with other progressive civil society organisations have compelled the Government to enact a number of laws to promote the welfare of the people. But, the welfare laws have not been implemented due to alleged lack of ,funds in spite of the nation’s enormous wealth. On account of the failure of the Government to fund welfare programmes, Nigeria is said to have the largest number of poor people in the world.

The economic paradox has been fuelled by large scale looting of public funds, by the ruling class. Most of the problems at the root of insecurity in Nigeria, are traceable to the implementation of neoliberal policies imposed on the nation by imperialism. Over 25 million young people including university graduates, are in the unemployment market. In addition to that figure, there are over 10 million children of school age who are roaming the streets, which is said to be the highest figure in the world. Not unexpectedly, such street kids are easily recruited by terrorists, bandits and other criminal gangs to unleash mayhem on the people. The hijack of the recent #EndSARS protests by hoodlums and other criminal elements, has confirmed that the nation is sitting on a keg of gunpowder.

Conclusion

Since armed robbery, kidnapping and murder or culpable homicide are State offences, we have pointed out that State Governments ought to be blamed for failing to end impunity, by prosecuting the herders and other criminal suspects arrested and indicted for kidnapping and killing of innocent people. Instead of engaging in ethnic profiling, concerned citizens should be organised to prevail on the Federal and State Governments to discharge their constitutional duty of protecting the life and property of every citizen. The Governments should also be compelled to put an end to the perennial violent conflicts between farmers and herders, which have needlessly claimed many lives and the destruction of properties worth several billions of Naira in many States of the Federation. As a matter of urgency, herders and bandits should be disarmed by the Federal Government. Having embraced ranching as a permanent solution to the clashes between herders and farmers, the Federal Government and State Governments should proceed to establish ranches in a number of States.

Femi Falana, SAN, Human Rights Lawyer, recipient of the prestigious Bernard Simmons Award of the International Bar Association

Source: Violent Clashes Between Herders and Farmers: A Legal Panacea