This posting is not about a particular ritual murder but it certainly is about ritual killing, in Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic founded in the first half of the 19th century by African-American colonists.
As I have previously stated here and elaborated multiple times on the motives of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, today’s ritual murders are 100% criminal acts uniquely aiming personal gains. In Liberia’s history we’ve repeatedly noted a surge in ritualistic killings in times of political tension and during election campaigns. For this reason, the last paragraph of the article presented below contains a remarkable observation. It was written by Edward H. Stemn, Maryland County correspondent of one of Liberia’s best newspapers, the Daily Observer.
Maryland County, in south-eastern Liberia, is notoriously-known for its ritualistic killings. On more than one occasion I’ve drawn attention to this fact. Therefore I will not dwell on it now.
Edward Stemn’s observation is almost casual but it is revealing. For this reason I’ve decided to include the article and share it with you (webmaster FVDK).
Liberia: Police Charge Teenagers for ‘Corpse Abuse’ in Maryland County
Published: May 10, 2023 By: Edward H. Stemn, Maryland County corespondent – Daily Observer
The Liberia National Police have charged three teenage boys in Maryland with “abuse of corpse.”
According to the LNP report, the township commissioner of Hoffman Station, Harper City, arrested and turned over to the police station three children for allegedly digging a corpse from a grave in a cemetery.
The police report, established through investigation, revealed that the teenagers broke into a grave and took up the corpse, brought the skull to town, and started to scare people in the community.
“It was during the process of instilling fear in the community that they were arrested and brought to the police station for investigation,” the police report disclosed.
Following their arrest, police said the boys admitted to the act when queried by LNP officers.
Those arrested and turned over to the police are Hilary Prowd, 13; Alphonso Nevis, 13; and George Sartee, 15 — all residents of Hoffman Station.
The three male teenagers are currently in police custody.
During the police investigation, the three suspects, in separate accounts, said the human skull in their possession was not meant for any ritualistic purpose.
George Satia, giving his account of their actions, said that, on May 6, after eating with his colleagues at night, they paid a visit to a graveyard in Hoffman Station and suddenly discovered that a human skull was seen outside one of the graves.
“We got through eating and left our house to at least play outside, but since the graveyard is not too far from us, we planned to go there and sit and lecture,” Satia told the investigators.
“While going close to the grave, we saw the human skull, and that is how we went closer and removed it from the hole, carried it outside of the graveyard, and kept it in the bathroom to scare our friends with it,” he explained.
For his part, Alphonso Nevis stated that the skull was brought out of the graveyard to scare their peers and not for anything negative.
The action of the teenagers has created fear amongst residents of Hoffman Station township, as many believe that the action of the kids might be for ritualistic and political reasons as Liberia fast approaches the legislative and presidential elections in October.
The following article is highly recommended reading, excellent work by Victor Ayeni!
In Nigeria, nearly every day ‘money rituals’ are reported, maybe not surprising in view of the country’s large population of well over 200 million people – Africa’s largest – even though just one ritual murder is already one too much. However, on the other hand, it could well be that the cases known and reported are only the tip of an iceberg.
But what do we know about ‘money rituals’, as ritual murders are being called in this part of the African continent? Most articles reporting on these crimes, which are driven by greed – for power, prestige or wealth – and based on superstition, are superficial. It is hard to find an article which treats this phenomenon in depth and in a serious way. The Nigerian journalist Victor Ayeni has done a great job and he’s to be commended for this achievement.
The traditional history of ritualistic killings and human sacrifices point to protection of the community’s interest by sacrificing one of its members. Cruel as this might be in our eyes nowadays, in the 21st century, back then relatives of the victim may have been proud of their family member’s contribution to the community. We see nowadays in many parts of the African continent that the ritualistic act which demands the death of the victim is for the (pretended, aimed) benefit of one person only who thus wants to increase his or her power, wealth or health. Moreover, the victim is often picked at random. Involuntary, the victim is attacked and tortured, what results is a gruesome, a wicked crime. Sometimes, specific groups are targeted, e.g. people with albinism, hunchbacks or bald people.
In some countries ambitious politicians tend to resort to these practices in the hope of increasing their political chances and success, resulting an increase in ritual murders during election campaigns. It’s a shocking reality – even though we don’t known the full scale of it.
‘Money rituals’ in Nigeria show another characteristic: some people consider it a business model, which enables them to ‘earn’ money from superstitious people who believe that by using another man’s organs or other body parts, ‘juju’ will be created, to their personal benefit.
Victor Ayeni explains well how this works in Nigeria. A very informative article which ends with the question ‘Are money rituals real or a fiction?’
The reader may answer this question for him- or herself after reading Ayeni’s valuable article. (webmaster FVDK)
Money ritual seekers’ dark walk into deceit, misery
VICTOR AYENI explores the subject of money ritual in popular culture, religious houses, and Nollywood movies, why the purveyors of the belief succeed in deceiving youths, and its implications on the public
The apprehension in the air was so thick that one could cut through it with a knife as Olajide (surname withheld) narrated his journey through a maze of confusion.
The 27-year-old graduate was helping a friend manage a pig farm in Osogbo, Osun State, when another friend introduced him to Internet scam, which in Nigerian lingo is called Yahoo Yahoo.
But his experience shocked the wits out of him.
“I was being paid N10,000 per month at the farm, but the money couldn’t meet my needs as time went on, so a friend of mine bought me an iPhone and from there, I was introduced to Yahoo Yahoo.
“I started off on a neutral ground and I was getting little money from my clients (victims), but after like three months into it, things became so tough that I couldn’t fend for myself again. I explained my situation to a friend and he took me to an Alfa (cleric),” Olajide recalls, shaking his head in disbelief.
This Alfa was known in Yahoo boys’ circles to be adept in the art of money magic – an occult economy that involves the performance of rituals to supernaturally conjure money.
Abode of fear
When Olajide described his financial difficulties to the Alfa, he was given two options.
“Alfa said he would help me out with small osole. I asked what he meant by that and he explained that osole (spiritual assistance) is different from oso (human body parts).
“Alfa told me oso required the use of human parts for material wealth with repercussions such as untimely death or insanity, whereas osole required the use of plants and animals for the same purpose but with lesser repercussions like being poor. I opted for osole,” he added.
Olajide was instructed to pay a sum of N12,000 into the cleric’s bank account for the materials and return in four days.
Five days later, when Olajide put a call through to the Alfa, he was asked to return for the materials.
He said, “When I got there, he gave me a small black soap and told me to find small palm oil and go to a flowing river to bathe that I had to cleanse myself first before I would use the materials.
“He explained to me that the soap was made with pepper mixed with some herbs and directed me to rub the palm oil on my body first before bathing with the soap. He warned that if I didn’t use the palm oil first, I was going to disappear and I would not be seen again. So, I did as I was told.”
Olajide said he complied with all the instructions.
“When I went back to him, he gave me three different materials: a soap to bath with every morning by 4am, a potion which I must swallow daily after taking my bath, and a powdery mixture to be licked every night before I go to bed.
“He said the herbal concoction was made from animals like crow, chameleon, cat, pigeon, and some leaves. He also told me that I would experience more hardship during the first two or three months of using the ritual materials, but I should endure it because after that, the tide will turn and money will be flowing in from my clients,” he added.
The idea of recipients conjuring money through magic is a familiar theme in many Nigerian films and religious houses.
Whether through animal sacrifices or trafficking in human parts, it is erroneously believed that these rites bring stupendous wealth to those who practice them.
When our correspondent inquired from Olajide if the magic worked, and in what specific ways the money came to him, he was silent.
When he spoke, he recalled faithfully following all the instructions given to him, but for the next two months, as the cleric predicted, he experienced serious financial hardship.
At this point, he said his friend introduced him to a client (victim), who had been defrauded several times.
Olajide then began to siphon money from the victim.
The inexplicable ease with which his ‘client’ gave him money implied that he (client) had been hypnotised.
“I ended up getting plenty money from this client. The cleric had assured me of having lots of money from osole, but he advised me to return to him for an upgrade of the ritual by paying N450,000, saying I would be making millions of naira after using the alleged ‘upgraded’ soap.
“But I didn’t go back because I asked my friend who took me there about what the new upgrade entails since that was what he did, and he warned me sternly against it because of the repercussions behind it.
“He said once I bathe with the ‘upgraded’ soap the cleric would prescribe, I could only wear the clothes and shoes I had and I must not change them for the next two years,” he added.
Four months after he dabbled in osole, Olajide realised that his fortunes began to dwindle as reality pulled the plug on his gravy train.
He said, “Things suddenly turned sour after four months. The client I was getting money from was arrested and ended up in jail and I no longer had any financial link. I ended up becoming more broke than before.
“My friend found me another client but I ended up wasting money rather than gaining some. Then, I was taken to another voodoo practitioner. This one said he would perform a ritual for me but one of its conditions was that I must never have sex with more than one girlfriend for the next three years and if I did otherwise, I would run mad.
“It was then I decided to withdraw from this stuff and went back into teaching for some time. Later on, I was introduced to the crypto business that I now do.”
The poverty factor
The belief in gaining wealth through mystical practices has gained much appeal over the decades in Nigeria with the exponential rise in poverty and lack of equal economic opportunities, especially for young people.
According to the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index Survey released by the National Bureau of Statistics, 63 per cent of Nigerians, which account for 133 million citizens, are multi-dimensionally poor due to a lack of access to health, education, living standards, employment, and security.
The unemployment rate in Nigeria has not only increased constantly in the past years, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group has also projected that the country’s unemployment rate will hit 37 per cent in 2023.
However, investigations by Saturday PUNCH showed that many Nigerians fervently believe that they can make a lot of money regardless of the dire economic situations in the country through a supernatural supply of money.
In Nigeria, there are various tales around wealth creation that foster the concept of one becoming rich through the manipulation of metaphysical forces in nature.
Among the Yoruba, South-West Nigeria, there is the aworo phenomenon that is believed to draw large patronage to a trader in a marketplace.
There is also awure (wealth booster) which can be prepared as a traditional soap or concoction.
Research shows that many Nigerians plank their belief in money rituals on mostly unverified reports.
This has drawn many into desperate measures, including taking the lives of close family members and friends.
In December 2021, a suspected Internet fraudster from Edo State, identified only as Osas, allegedly murdered his girlfriend, Elohor Oniorosa, for ritual purposes.
In November 2022, another Yahoo boy, alongside his herbalist, one Ike, aka Ogenesu, was arrested after policemen recovered suspected human parts at the herbalist’s place in Obiaruku, in the Ukwuani Local Government Area of Delta State.
But Ogun State appeared to have the highest number of reported incidents of such killings.
For instance, the state recorded at least 15 cases of ritual killings between January 2022 and 2023.
In January, the Ogun State Police Command arrested a 36-year-old herbalist, Taiwo Ajalorun, who reportedly confessed to the gruesome killing of a 26-year-old mother of two and two others in the Ijebu Ode area of the state.
On December 28, 2022, in the Ijebu-Ode area of the state, a gang reportedly killed three women, including a girlfriend of one of them, after sleeping with her.
In February 2022, two suspected criminals who were alleged to be ritualists were set ablaze by an angry mob for being in possession of human parts in Oja-Odan in the Yewa-North Local Government Area of the state.
Also, in October 2022, two suspected Internet fraudsters allegedly killed a 40-year-old man, Abdullahi Azeez, in Owode-Egba.
But probably the most pathetic was that of some teenagers who were caught burning the head of a female, Sofia, whom they killed for money ritual in the Oke Aregba area of Abeokuta.
One of the teenagers, Soliu Majekodunmi, who was Sofia’s boyfriend, said in January 2022 that he learnt the practice through Facebook.
Majekodunmi said he typed, ‘How to make money ritual’ on Facebook and got the details, adding that the link instructed him to behead and burn a female skull in a local pot.
Shaman or sham man?
Our correspondent found many Facebook accounts and groups created for seekers of money rituals.
Most of the social media pages had photographs of new naira notes placed in African traditional pots, calabashes, and cowrie-strewn bags, and some showed animal blood splattered on the ground around them.
Posing as a school teacher, our correspondent reached out to one of the acclaimed shamans, Babatunde (surname withheld), who resided in Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State.
In his response, he introduced his shrine as the ‘Arab Money Family’ and sent his phone number to our correspondent.
In a rather confident tone, Babatunde said, “If you are ready, even if it is this night, you will pay me and I will get the materials ready to start the ritual work for you. Most of my ritual work is done overnight and by tomorrow, it will be completed and your money will come out.
“You will send me your bank account, photograph, and full name, and you will be receiving money in your account. You will be receiving cash thrice every two weeks.”
When our correspondent inquired whether it is spirits that would be sending the money, he interjected in a mildly exasperated tone, “Listen, I will prepare the money here in my shrine and the money will be entering your account.”
He sent his ritual material price list and asked our correspondent to select the amount of money he wishes to receive in his bank account.
The list says, “N15,500 for N200,000; N20,000 for N300,000; N30,500 for N500,000; N50,000 for N1million; N75,000 for N5million; N90,000 for N20million; and N120,000 for N50 million.”
When our correspondent selected “N20,000 for N300,000,” he reiterated that his brand of ‘money magic’ utilises native materials instead of human blood.
“I make money without human blood and I only make use of native materials. I only make use of materials called ‘Cash of Hope’ and the ‘Money Drawer Oil.’
“Mind you, my work does not require any side effects or human being blood for sacrifice or repercussions, okay? Never say never to the high spirit.
“You don’t need to travel down for the ritual; I will just send them to you and you will get your money, but you must come down to my shrine with a token of appreciation for my work, any amount your heart chooses,” Babatunde added.
When the reporter complained about being unable to afford the cost of the ritual material, the magician urged him to find the money by any means possible and contact him when ready.
Babatunde was also observed to regularly post videos on his Facebook and WhatsApp statuses featuring ‘clients’ who claim to have acquired money through his rituals but the veracity of their claims could not be confirmed.
The second acclaimed money magician, who resides in Ogbomoso, Oyo State, goes by the Facebook name, Iya Ifa Bomi.
In this case, our correspondent posed as a greenhorn ‘Yahoo boy’ and asked her for spiritual assistance in order to obtain money from his ‘clients.’
She said, “You mean you are talking to your clients and they are not giving you money? I can perform a ritual for you and it will involve the use of big Titus fish, pepper, and some fresh leaves, but it will cost you N25,000.
“When you have the money, you can come to Ogbomoso and pick up the materials. I will prepare them for you. I have done this for many Yahoo boys like you and they all come back to testify that their clients are cooperating although some of them are ingrates. We also have some of us who do this work who are scammers and have made people not trust our works.”
Another cleric contacted by our correspondent, Alfa Abdulmumeen Aremu, advertised himself as a practitioner of “money rituals for engineers, contractors, business owners and ‘Yahooboys.’”
He first demanded a sum of N2,000 and told our correspondent to send his full name and his mother’s name for spiritual consultation before he could recommend osole to him.
In a voice note, he explained, “There are different types of osole and I perform them for people like you, so don’t worry, I am adept in this work. Send me those things first and I will do some consultations to know your destiny in five minutes and I will revert to you.”
Our correspondent sent him a pseudonym along with the name of his late grandmother.
After some minutes, Aremu sent a voice note saying, “I can see you have a very bright destiny but you have some enemies. They are divided into two: some from your family and others from your workplace.
“You will cook ritual meals like rice and semo with tasty stew and give them to the children in your community. They will eat it with relish, and some of them will go to sleep. After you do that, you will be spiritually clean and we can proceed to the next stage.”
A student of Business Administration, Kazeem Akinpelu, says money rituals are real.
“If they have not been working, people will no longer be practicing them. I grew up in Ibadan, Oyo State, and I know of a market where they sell human parts at night.
“The people selling in this particular market practice voodoo and they are patronised by those who perform money rituals. There was also one time the body parts of a lynched motorcyclist here in Ibadan were used by ritualists,” he added.
However, a civil servant, Nnamdi Okeke, dismissed money rituals as a fantasy that existed only in the realm of make-believe.
“Well, I have not come across any money rituals and I haven’t thought of doing such either. I don’t believe there is anything like ‘blood money.’
“Someone can watch a film and tell you the story, but no cult will tell you what to bring if you have not passed through their ranks, and that is if such things exist, because I don’t believe in them. The question is, the person who wants to make you rich, why is he poor and even why are their children not rich?” he asked.
Similarly, a medical scientist, Mike Okechukwu, said the whole concept of ritual killing boiled down to superstition.
“People would believe what they want to believe to obtain money. Desperate people will employ desperate measures. For me though, I don’t think ritual killings are effective; I have not seen any proof to make me believe so. It all boils down to superstition,” he stated.
But a sales representative, who gave her name as Judith for security reasons, said she once dated a man whom she believed was involved in such rituals.
She said, “I was dating this Yahoo-Yahoo guy and one day, I visited him unannounced and found that he didn’t want me to go inside his room. He was just acting weird that day.
“But while I stood at the door, he didn’t know I saw a native pot placed on the floor. From that day on, I began to suspect him and that was what made me leave him eventually because I don’t want anybody to use me for money rituals.”
Money ritual mirage
Commenting on popular beliefs about money rituals, a Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the Lagos State University, Danoye Oguntola-Laguda, said herbalists appeal to Internet scammers for pecuniary gain.
He said, “My experience is that there is nothing called money rituals. What many people mistake for money rituals is the prayer for getting rich. That could definitely involve some sacrifices of animals or birds or cooking for the whole community (saara) which brings the blessing of feeding multitudes and people may not be able to determine how you become rich.
“I don’t want to say that those who believe in osole or perform oso are wrong because there are a lot of myths that point in that direction, but if you ask many of them to tell you or show you the real thing, you will see that they have nothing to show.
“I want to say that most of these traditionalists do not even know that those who consult them are ‘Yahoo boys.’ They just see them as people seeking a way to be rich and they do a ritual, pray for them and tell them to go and kill one goat. The babalawos are also human beings who have families to feed so when they see a victim with such a proposal, they grab it with both hands.”
Oguntola-Laguda also explained the difference between religious practice and occultism.
“Religion is experiential; it is about your experience. If I tell you that prayer doesn’t work, it’s because I tried it and it didn’t work and if I tell you that it works, it’s because I tried it and it worked for me.
“There is a need to separate occultism from religious practices. Occultism is the appropriation of spiritual agents, who in most cases are negative, and it’s not limited to African traditional religion; it is something that cuts across the board.
“Many religious people appropriate these negative spiritual agents for these money rituals and power to be able to do things that are extraordinary, like the power to be able to tell the sun to go down or to tell the rain to stop.
“So, it is occult people that will tell you that they will make you rich and invite a spiritual agent to do that for you but they always come with a price and that is what many people have come to call oso or osole.
“In the past, in Yoruba traditional society, the wizard who is called oso doesn’t mean he is rich but has power appropriated through spiritual agents that he deploys for good or evil of society,” he added.
Nollywood magical realism
The scenarios of materially wealthy people enmeshed in sinister rituals and pacts with spirits, is a recurring theme in Nollywood plots.
Findings by Saturday PUNCH revealed that whether in the predominantly Muslim North or the largely Christian South, many religious Nigerians believe in the reality of an unseen world, and the fictive representations from Nollywood plots have heavily shaped their perceptions of reality.
A Nollywood screenwriter, Mr Abiola Omolokun, argued that the depictions of money rituals in films are a true representation of Yoruba culture.
He said, “First, I don’t write such stories, but they are true representations of reality. Money rituals are real and are reflected in our cultural beliefs; they are not fiction.
“We tell a story just to teach morals and make people see things differently. Our stories make them know that for every action, there are consequences.
“Through our movies, we teach that patience is a virtue that youths need to walk on the right path, and in due time, with hard work and perseverance, everything will lead to success.”
However, a researcher in African Studies, Akin Faleye, contended that such stories lack historical precedent and are fraudulent.
“As a student of global history, I will say that there is no evidence that the Yoruba practised money rituals in the pre-colonial time. All these stories of money rituals are fraudulent and emanated from psychopaths rather than people with some actual spiritual knowledge of how to make money,” he stated.
Money rituals in other cultures
In some other cultures, what could be termed as money rituals are often symbolic acts or dramas that appeal to psychological and cosmic powers through an application of symbolic structures.
In Ireland, there is a tradition of taking a piece of straw from the nativity scene/crib in the church at Christmas and keeping it in your purse or wallet, which is believed to bring financial prosperity throughout the year.
An Indian author, Suresh Padmanabhan, in his work, I Love Money, devoted a chapter to ‘Money rituals’ and wrote, “Take a currency note in your hand and wish it ‘Good morning.’ “Express gratitude to your wallet, accounts book, cash box, bank passbook, or any other tools connected directly to money. Smile at yourself in the mirror and pat yourself when you perform a task well.”
Some practitioners in western traditions also perform what they define as money spells/rites, which involve the invocation of spirits and archangels, drawing ritual circles, erecting a temple and an altar, and presenting offerings to ancient deities.
However, these rituals are often believed and practiced by religious groups on the fringes and are based on cultural paradigms that only allow clearly defined routes of financial access through hard work, lucrative business, and clever exploitation of market gaps.
Lamenting the lack of profitable skills available to Nigerian youths, a United Kingdom-based personal development coach, Mr Toyyib Adelodun, highlighted the need for popular magical ideas about money to be refuted.
“Nigerian youths need to understand that money is a unit of account to measure, therefore the more value you produce for the community, the richer you are supposed to be. So, the first thing a young person should seek is education and skills to earn money.
“Money is always circulating in an economy. It is the Central Bank of Nigeria that prints money, it doesn’t come from anywhere else. We saw a practical example of this recently when the CBN embarked on the naira redesign and there wasn’t enough money in circulation. So, there is no magic that is going to bring money from anywhere unless you offer your skills as a person of value.
“I have been to several countries in the world and I can see that money only comes from value creation. Unfortunately, Nigerian youths are not equipped with the relevant skills; we just go to religious houses to pray and sit back at home and don’t market skills or deliver an excellent service in order to generate wealth. We don’t have to resort to crimes,” he said.
Clerics urge re-orientation
A Senior Pastor at Christ Life Church, Ibadan, Prof. Wale Coker, told Saturday PUNCH the youth need a re-orientation that would see them embrace a new value system other than the present mad rush to become wealthy overnight.
“The scriptures state that ‘wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished, but he that gathers by labour shall increase’. Youths should be encouraged to walk in the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom,” he added.
The National Missioner of the Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Shiekh, Abdur-Rahman Ahmad, stated, “All those who claim to be Muslims and Alfas that are involved in money rituals know within their hearts that they are doing something wrong and deceiving people.
“The reality is that there is no money ritual. It is not only against the letter and spirit of the laws of Islam but also against human conscience. Islam recognises only three sources of legitimate wealth: direct labour or hard work, inheritance, and a legitimate gift and this doesn’t mean a Greek gift or bribe or something induced.”
On her part, a traditionalist, Omitonade Ifawemimo, said, “There is no shortcut in Isese (traditional spirituality). If you don’t work, you won’t be wealthy. Nollywood and the fantasy it creates bears responsibility for the concept of money rituals.
“Human sacrifice for money rituals does not exist in Isese. It is fake, madness, and a scam! It’s tragic that Yoruba movies have messed up people’s thinking into believing all these lies.”
A few days ago I reported on ritualistic murders in Liberia and the link with scheduled elections. Unfortunately, a painful phenomenon hard to eradicate.
More in general, in Liberia (as in many other countries) not all ritual murders are discovered whereas not all discovered ritual murders are reported in the local or national press. What we learn from Counselor Gongloe’s statements is that in recent times more ritual murders have been committed in Liberia than one might think based on reports in the media (printed, radio, television, twitter).
Tiawan Saye Gongloe who hails from Nimba County in Liberia is the presidential candidate of the Liberian People’s Party (LPP). He is a highly respected lawyer and human rights advocate and known for his progressive ideals and integrity. Gongloe served as an executive assistant to the interim president of Liberia, the late Amos Sawyer, from 1990 to 1994 and as Solicitor General (2006-2009) and minister of Labor (2009-2010) during the first term of the Sirleaf Administration (2006-2012). Hence his statements about a recent surge in ritualistic killings must be taken seriously and not interpreted as ‘political warfare’ against his opponent, incumbent President George Weah. (webmaster FVDK)
Liberia: Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe links recent ritualistic killings to poverty under the Weah-led Government
MONROVIA – Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe, Standard-bearer of the Liberian People’s Party (LPP) has told the people of Lofa County that he would curb corruption in public service by taking stringent measures to root out the menace as President of Liberia. According to him, the vice grossly impedes Liberia’s progress while past and present leaders look on as if it is normal to carry on when it must be nipped in the butt.
Addressing an array of people in continuation of his acquaintance tour of Lofa, which has already taken him to 20 towns in the County including Voinjama, Kolahun and Foya, the LPP Standard-bearer named a number of ways corruption occurs in public service. He said willful underperformance, stealing assets and moneys, conflict of interest, putting family members and friends in positions they are unfit to hold, overestimating bids and contracts to obtain cuts, unlawful extraction of natural resources and profiteering are part of common acts of corruption that continue to undermine the very fabric of the nation.
Due to greed prompted by the abovementioned, the candidate bemoaned that the vice was part of fertilizers of ritualistic killings the government is unable to curtail. He indicated that people who are unready but desire government jobs simply to steal State resources, resort to “juju-people” that ostensibly requires human parts in order to work.
People in Cllr. Gongloe’s audiences including women in Salayea, Borkaza, Konia and LPMC (Nyandisu) particularly admonished the “incoming” President of Liberia to deliberately fight ritualistic killing because it is now commonplace in Liberia. In his word, the LPP Standard-bearer Gongloe stated: “This is very bad. It creates insecurity among the people. Therefore, as President of Liberia, I will combat corruption in order to render the wicked services needless”.
From town-to-town, Tiawan asserted that as President, he would declare and publish his assets in social media and conventional media outlets and would robustly press other office holders in the three Branches of our Government to declare and publish their assets in like manner. In addition, he avowed that he would publish the salaries and benefits of the President and that of his cabinet and other officials of agencies and commissions and would vehemently urge the Speaker and members of the Legislature and Chief Justice and Associate Justices to do similarly.
Renowned for his impeccable character in public service, Cllr. Gongloe added that he would leave no stone unturned or spare any official when culpable in any graft, propounding that there would be conduct of quarterly lifestyle audits of government officials. The LPP Standard-bearer reiterated “I assure you that I will dismiss and order the arrest, investigation and prosecution of any official of my administration found guilty of cheating and stealing our Country’s resources”.
In October this year presidential and general elections will be held in Liberia, Africa oldest republic, created in 1847 by African Americans including freed slaves, free-born blacks and colored people in general. They commonly referred to themselves as Americo-Liberians and constituted an elite of less than 5% of the total population who, notwithstanding their minority status, controlled political life in the republic until 1980 when a brutal military coup ended Americo-Liberian rule over Liberia.
Ritualistic activities and murders in Liberia have a long history. Notably when elections are coming, there is a surge in reported cases of ritual killings. See my previous postings. Yet again, elections are due in October and again there are cases of ritual murder. This time in Bomi County, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) from the country’s capital Monrovia. According to former Bomi County senator, Sando Johnson, “As we approach elections, this act is always happening in those two districts. Suehn and Dewein districts are noted for these kinds of ritualistic killing.”
The police announced it had arrested six suspects, among them the uncle of the 2-year old boy who was ‘sacrificed’. A swift and commendable action, but who ordered the ritual killing? Very often, powerful people involved behind the scene manage to prevent further investigations and arrests. Will it be different this time?
Only time will tell but – very unfortunate – I have my own thoughts on future developments…. (webmaster FVDK)
Liberia: Police Launch Probe into the Grisly Murder of 2-Yr-Old Boy in Bomi; Six Arrested
MONROVIA – Police in Tubmanburg, Bomi County have arrested six persons in connection with the gruesome murder of a two-year-old child in Dewein District.
The victim identified as Saah Momo went missing during the afternoon hours of Monday, January 23.
When he was reported missing, residents of the town and other surroundings launched a manhunt search for him.
His remains were discovered in a Bamboo bush, with his stomach opened and parts extracted from his body, including one of his eyes.
Following the incident, the LNP arrested the six inspects, including the uncle of the victim identified as one Siafa Gray.
“Siafa Gray is the uncle of the victim; the victim is his sister’s son. He has been arrested as one of the prime suspects and they are currently in police custody in Bomi,” a source, who preferred not to be named stated.
Police Spokesman Moses Carter told FrontPage Africa via telephone that the suspects are being transferred to Monrovia and a news conference will be held on the incident today.
When news of the gruesome murder of little Saah Momo broke out in the county, fear gripped the residents and parents were panicking to also send their underage children to school in the county.
Normal working and commercial activities also commenced on a slow pace in the county for fear that the incident would stir up a violent protest.
Speaking in an interview with FrontPage Africa via telephone , former Bomi County Senator Sando Dazoe Johnson described the incident as “alarming, barbaric, and uncivilized.”
He challenged state security actors to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that justice prevails in the matter.
“For a two-year old child to be murdered in cold blood and body parts extracted it is painful and it should not be tolerated in our society. All of the perpetrators should be brought to book and when they are found guilty, they deserve a harsh punishment.”
Mr. Johnson observed that this is not the first time for a minor to be gruesomely murdered in the county.
According to him, similar incidents have consistently occurred in Dewein and Suehn Mecca districts in the county.
He linked the incident to alleged ritualistic killing.
“As we approach elections, this act is always happening in those two districts. Suehn and Dewein districts are noted for these kinds of ritualistic killing. Anytime we are approaching elections, these things will happen.”
Mr. Johnson maintained that the parents of the victims and other family members are the ones that are mostly affected as a result of the growing wave of ritualistic killings in the county.
“This is a ritualistic killing-when people died under this kind of mysterious circumstance and body parts are extracted.”
He claimed that the body parts extracted from the victims are most often used, “with an evil intent by wicked individuals and others for political and financial gains.”
Becoming a habit
“This is not the first or second time this has happened in Bomi County. It is becoming a habit in those two districts wherever there are elections around.”
Mr. Johnson pointed out that residents of the two districts in the county were already living in fear prior to the latest incident.
According to him, the ghastly murder of little Saah will further elevates fear among the residents.
“These acts are normally done by evil men and we pray to God that one day they will be exposed.”
Mr. Johnson, however, challenged authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to be vigilant in bringing both the killers and their sponsors to book.
He called on the citizens to be mindful and take precautions during this electioneering period in Liberia.
“We want to call on our people to man their little children because, during these times, evil men are in the bushes trying to hunt down children for their personal gains. We will work along with the police to ensure that these criminal-minded individuals in high or low places are brought to book.”
In Nigeria a public discussion has started on banning a song allegedly inciting young people to commit ritual murders. If ever existed a reason to demonstrate the widespread occurrence of ritualistic murders in Africa’s most populated country then it’s no longer the case with the nation-wide debate on Yahoo Yahoo and ritual killings, locally called ‘money rituals’ – get-rich-quick’.
The despised song and related rage over the alleged incitement to commit murder once more demonstrates that the type of ritual murders which are being committed in Nigeria, presumably all over the country, is different form the ‘traditional’, may I call it the ‘classical’ human sacrifice which once was part of African culture, as it also was in Latin America (Incas, Mayas) and Asia (nowadays India, China) and Europe. Unfortunately, speaking of these ritualistic acts in the past tense is not correct as up till the present day ritual murders or Satanic murders are being reported from the regions mentioned including North America.
In ancient times human sacrifices were performed in various forms and for various reasons varying from sacrificing a member of one’s tribe for the benefit of the whole community, or for purposes of accompanying the soul of a departed chief or loved one to the ancestors (‘The Great Beyond’). The victim of the sacred ceremony was chosen by the priests or elders of the community and sometimes the parents of the victim would consider it a source of pride to contribute to the welfare of the community or the eternal rest of a chief by ‘sacrificing’ their son or daughter.
Nowadays, however, ritual murders are being committed for the well-being of an individual who desires to increase his wealth, power or reputation, and who believes in the supernatural power of specific body parts of the victim, whereas the victims are increasingly picked at random. This ‘criminalization’ of a hitherto cultural phenomenon is the main characteristic of most ritual murders being committed nowadays in African countries. What makes it sometimes even worse is that the perpetrators are protected by powerful people who at times are themselves involved in these barbaric acts. Th fact that in several countries ritual murders are on the increase during elections campaigns is a bitter illustration of this reality. (Webmaster FVDK).
It’ll encourage ritual killing – MURIC begs NBC, others to ban Portable’s new album
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has condemned sensational musician, Portable’s new album titled, ‘Kuku Do Ritual’, urging authorities to ban it.
According to the Islamic human rights organisation, the album is a brazen assault on Nigerian and African values and has the potential to encourage ritual killing and mislead Nigerian youth.
MURIC made this known in a Monday statement signed by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
The organisation called on the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and the Performing Musicians’ Association of Nigeria (PMAN) to take necessary action with military dispatch to stop the circulation of the album.
The statement reads, “Popular pop singer, Habeeb Okikiola (Portable) has released a new album under the title ‘Kuku Do Ritual’ in which part of the lyrics say, ‘Kuku do ritual. If you do ritual you go die. If you no do ritual you go die. Kuku do ritual’.
“We find this song disgusting, detestable and egregious. It is a brazen assault on Nigerian and African values. Portable’s latest song has reduced human life to the level of ordinary ants that can be stamped out under human feet without qualms and without consequences. It is an open invitation to criminality. It makes mockery of law and order. It is an open disrespect for human life.
“This song has the capacity to influence our young ones in a negative manner. It is also capable of destroying the future of the youth. Something must be done urgently. Already, there are several reports of young ones engaging in the shameful act for the purpose of getting rich in their tender ages.
“Three teenagers were caughtattempting to kill a 13-year-old girl for money ritual in Bayelsa State in January 2022.
“Four teenagers living in Abeokuta, Ogun State, killed the girlfriend of one of them for money ritual. In fact, there is a plethora of ritual killings among young Yahoo practitioners in the country.
“MURIC calls on all men of goodwill, all mothers in Nigeria, Muslim and Christian leaders to rise against the madness called Yahoo Yahoo and ritual killings among young ones whose ambassador has just released this horrendous song in their praise. ‘Kuku Do Ritual’ is nothing but a eulogy to glorify and elevate the names of ritual killers to high heaven.
“This album calls for immediate action from Nigeria’s traditional rulers. They are the custodians of our tradition. We therefore take our cry for help to these royal fathers to speak up on this sacrilegious song released by ‘Portable’. They must put pressure on the authorities to stop the circulation and broadcast of this album on any radio or television station and through any medium whatsoever.
“We invite the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and the Performing Musicians’ Association of Nigeria (PMAN) to take necessary action with military dispatch.
“We see no reason why the security agencies should not investigate the author of this most embarrassing and irrational song to explain the number of rituals in which he has indulged. A scape goat must be made of this album and its artist before the trend escalates.
“Nobody should hide behind artistic priviledge, poetic licence or freedom of expression to launch such barbaric offensive on our culture, our norms and our values. This is beyond free speech. It is criminal speech. It is incitement to commit murder. It is instigation to criminality. It is a bestial invasion on decency and good manners. It is Bohemian.”
“This song has the capacity to influence our young ones in a negative manner. It is also capable of destroying the future of the youth. Something must be done urgently. Already, there are several reports of young ones engaging in the shameful act for the purpose of getting rich in their tender ages.
I’ve repeatedly drawn attention to the many ritual murders, or killings for ritual purposes, in Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country with a population exceeding 200 million souls. These ritualistic crimes are locally known as ‘money rituals‘. (Warning: the preceding link leads to a video with graphic details of ritual killings).
The following post is about the published worries of an individual, Safiyanu Ladan. He was so emotional about the spate of ritual murders in his country that when the new year 2023 was approaching he decided to write an open article which was first published by a leading Nigerian newspaper, the Daily Trust.
Safiyanu Ladan writes from Zaria, Kaduna State, and openly associates ritualistic murders to prominent businessmen and politicians. In the article he dwells on a ritual murder committed by a prominent businessman in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State, in the north of the country.
It’s a well-known fact that in Nigeria and other countries ritual murders and elections are linked, with the number of alleged and confirmed cases of ritual murder increasing during election campaigns. Nigeria faces national elections in February this year (next month) when the people of Nigeria go to the polls to elect a new president and National Assembly. (webmaster FVDK).
I feel compelled to register my concern on the rising spate of killings across the country supposedly by ritualists as the 2023 elections draw closer. Some politicians who are desperate to win the election have always resorted to these uncanny acts in a bid to attain power at all costs. Unfortunately, the perpetrators of these […]
The post On the rising incidents of ritual killings appeared first on Daily Trust
I feel compelled to register my concern on the rising spate of killings across the country supposedly by ritualists as the 2023 elections draw closer. Some politicians who are desperate to win the election have always resorted to these uncanny acts in a bid to attain power at all costs.
Unfortunately, the perpetrators of these devilish acts have always gone free. It’s only on rare occasions that some arrests are made and after the suspects are ceremoniously paraded by the police one will never hear about the case again.
In January last year, Aminu Baba, a prominent businessman selling vehicles at Aminchi Motors, Gusau Zamfara State, after his arrest by the police, confessed to have eaten and sold human parts to some unknown persons.
In a video footage, the visibly unapologetic Aminu’s accomplice who was arrested alongside him had admitted the gruesome killing of a 9-year-old boy whose body parts were removed and sold to Aminu for N500,000.
It has been one year since such an unfortunate incident occurred, and the suspects and the police have promised to take them to court at the end of their investigation. The outcome of the court’s judgment on this heinous act is not yet available in the public domain.
Incidents such as this are being reported by the media and after initial reactions, the matter will just die off.
The unrelenting act of ritualists inflicting harm on unsuspecting members of society is of great concern, hence the need for security agencies to double their efforts in order to restore people’s confidence.
It is pertinent to note that the life of a human being is sacred, and as such, nobody should feel threatened that their life might be taken away in whatever form except according to laid down processes.
Safiyanu Ladan wrote from Zaria via firstname.lastname@example.org
The post On the rising incidents of ritual killings appeared first on Daily Trust
Ritualistic activities and ritual murders are based on superstition, but the occurrence of ritual killings also has everything to do with the lack of rule of law. Countries with a weak rule of law tend to show a higher prevalence of ritual murders, be it a causal relationship or a correlation.
One such a country where a weak rule of law results in a high level of insecurity is Nigeria – as repeatedly stated on this site. Very likely, not all regions of Africa’s most populated country show a similar scale of insecurity. The article below focuses on Nigeria’s South-East.
The main theme of the article concerns the prevailing lack of security in the South-East. Ritual murders contribute to this high level of insecurity, as mentioned in the article – enough reason to include the article here (webmaster FVDK).
Nigeria’s South-East is plagued by a surge in cybercrime, armed robbery, kidnapping, domestic crime, extrajudicial killings, ritual killings, and banditry.
Published: December 17, 2022 By: Garbxtpen (self media writer) – Opera News, Nigeria
Insecurity has been one of the major threats Nigerians are facing nowadays. Even though the Buhari-led administration has been putting everything in place to make sure that normalcy returns to every region of the country, some bad people in Nigeria are still causing havocs in some region of the country.
The South-East is plagued by a surge in cybercrime, armed robbery, kidnapping, domestic crime, extrajudicial killings, ritual killings, and banditry. However, while some people are so unfortunate to scrape through these insecurities, some Nigerians were so fortunate to escape from the dens of these perpetrators.
On Friday, Christopher Eleghu, the candidate of the Labour Party (LP) for Onuimo constituency, Imo state house of assembly in 2023 general election was reportedly killed by some unknown gunmen who stormed his house in the early hours of the day, the Punch reports.
An eyewitness who claimed anonymity disclosed that the gunmen who stormed the area operated for over two hours before they left the deceased’s house to also attack some other top politicians in the community.
While the eyewitness was further speaking to newsmen, he noted that when the villagers gathered at Eleghu’s house this morning, they all saw his dead body been inflicted with matchet cuts after the unknown gunmen killed him.
The eyewitness said, “They have killed Christopher Elehu, popularly known as Wasco. Until his death he was the Labour Party candidate in Onuimo Local Government Area. They invaded his house when everybody had gone to sleep and shot for over two hours. They killed the man and burnt his house. They also destroyed his property. His corpse was laying on the floor with matchet cuts when villagers gathered in the morning.”
Nevertheless, the Commissioner of Police in Imo State, Mohammad Ahmed Barde has vowed the the perpetrators of this crime would soon be arrested and charged to court for taking the life of this innocent LP chieftain.
Reports on ritualistic activities including murders in Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) are few on this site since its start in early 2018. In September 2018 I posted a report on the ritual killing of a four-year old boy, Bouba.
I’ve indicated earlier that there’s a bias in my research which uses sources which are more focused on the anglophone world than on francophone and lusophone countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. I very much regret this situation which for the moment I can’t change.
A few years before Bouba was found murdered, mutilated, clearly for ritualistic purposes, in early 2015, the BBC published a shocking report following the reported kidnapping and killing of at least 20 children in the preceding weeks across the country. Most of the lifeless bodies found showed signs of mutilation, indicating ritualistic motives.
What were the reasons for this surge in ritual murders which took the lives of so many young, innocent children and left their families grieving? Unfortunately, reliable information on the why, how and by whom is lacking. All I can say is that 2015 was an important election year In the Ivory Coast. In October 2015 presidential elections were held. A coincidence? Or an indication of the explaining circumstances?
He or she who knows the answer may contact the webmaster of this site (webmaster FVDK).
Ivory Coast tackles ritual child killings
Published: January 30, 2015 By: BBC
Police in Ivory Coast have set up a special unit to investigate a series of suspected ritual child killings.
At least 20 children have been kidnapped and killed across the country in recent weeks and most of the bodies have shown signs of mutilation.
Extra police and soldiers have been deployed to patrol known danger spots in the city of Abidjan, including areas around schools.
The BBC’s Tamasin Ford sent us this report from Abidjan.
A former ULIMO commander stands trial in France accused of war crimes, human rights violations, murder and cannibalism.
For shortness sake reference is made to Civitas Maxima’s monitoring of the arrest and trial of Kunti Kamara, a former ULIMO commander who was arrested in France in 2018. Kunti Kamara is accused of war crimes and human rights violations including torture, rape, murder and cannibalism committed during Liberia’s first civil war (1989-1997) in Foya, Lofa County, Liberia. His trial started in Paris/France on October 10.
Kunti Kamara is not the first or only rebel commander who’s being accused of ritual murder and cannibalism. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission mentions in its 2009 Final Report that hundreds of Liberians were murdered for ritual purposes during the two civil wars. In his book The Mask of Anarchy (1999), the late Stephen Ellis accuses the leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) who started Liberia’s first civil war, Charles Taylor, of drinking human blood during a juju ritual. Also Gibril Massaquoi, a RUF commander in neighboring Sierra Leone and a key-witness in the SCSL trial of warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor, was accused of murder for ritual purposes, but acquitted in April (2022). (webmaster FVDK).
“I would never eat human heart” – Kunti Kamara denies accusation before a French War Crimes court
Published: October 18, 2022 By: Prue Clarke, Front Page Africa – Monrovia, Liberia
PARIS, France – The former Ulimo commander Kunti Kamara, on trial here for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia’s civil wars, had his first chance to make a substantive response to the allegations made against him in the first five days of this trial.
Under questioning from the judges, civilian lawyers and prosecution lawyers Kamara denied all the accusations that victims have made against him of torture, rape, murder of civilians and “barbarism” in the town of Foya in Lofa County, Liberia between 1993 and 1994.
Kamara told the nine-person jury and four alternates that the accusations of cannibalism – that he roasted and ate the heart of a civilian who had allegedly reported his crimes to international observers – made him sick.
“Since I was arrested nothing bothered me in the trial like what they’re talking about now. Eating human beings,” Kamara said. “Even if I spend 100 years in jail I will not admit to eating a human being’s heart. Each time I hear it I want to vomit.”
“Since I was born until today I never eat pork,” said Kamara a Muslim. “Why should I eat human being heart? I have nothing to say. I am innocent. I don’t know them today. I don’t know them tomorrow.”
Kamara denied that he had ever knew anyone who had said they ate human heart including in rituals of the Poro, a traditional African society.
“Since I was small that is a rumor in the ear,” he said of Poro human sacrifice and consumption of human flesh. “But I never met anyone who said they ate heart.”
Kamara insisted that the Ulimo committed no atrocities against civilians in the four-month period he was with them in Foya though he conceded Ulimo may have committed atrocities elsewhere during the war.
He said Ulimo in Foya was under the ultimate command of Ulimo Commander Dekau. Kamara said his mandate was only as battalion commander in charge of platoons “on the frontlines”. He denied any leadership role in the town over civilians.
Kamara acknowledged Ulimo fighters that victims have identified in this trial “Ugly Boy”, “Fine Boy” and Alieu Kosiah, convicted of war crimes in Switzerland in 2021, were all with him in Foya but Kamara claimed he hardly ever saw them.
Kamara blamed the accusations that have brought him to trial here were part of a “plot” orchestrated by “a clique” led by Fayah Williams, the late deputy director at Global Justice and Research Project, the Liberian justice activists.
Late in the evening Massa Washington, the former commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, gave a powerful testimony that could prove decisive in the trial.
It was designed to answer questions that jurors may have had about whether they should be passing judgement on a Liberian for crimes committed 30 years ago in a country a long way away. That was a question French journalists were asking eachother on the sidelines of the trial.
“These trials are important because they give them people of Liberia justice,” an emotional Washington told the jury. “They give us hope that one day we’ll be able to get justice with our own judges, our own prosecutors, on our own soil. In the meantime we are grateful that some of the people who committed these gross violations of human rights who are in this country, in the US, in every country in the world where they find them they can try to bring them to justice. In the absence of our government addressing accountability these trials are the Liberian people have.”
Washington thanked the jury.
“It sends a message that we belong to the universal human race,” Washington said. “It says that the world has not forgotten Liberia. It says that we all share that common human dignity. We have the same needs. We feel the same pain. We thank you for the opportunity to tell some of these stories. I hope this has provided an important clarification for why this trial is important.”
Washington told some of the horrors she had personally witnessed as a journalist in Monrovia during the first civil war. The jury was riveted by her testimony which made clear that the testimony they were hearing from witnesses here was just a fraction of the myriad atrocities that had been committed during the war. She told of rapes of girls as young as five and of elderly women. She said her work with women made it clear to her than many of the elderly women had not come forward to the TRC hearings because of the stigma.
She told the story of an 82-year-old woman who told her she was made a war wife.
“’I was raped all the time by boys who could have been my grandchildren,’” Massa quoted the woman as saying. “Her story is just one story that represents thousands of stories. The rebels were so bad that when people were on checkpoints trying to get away from the fighting the rebels were raping the wives in front of the husbands. They even forced sons to have sex with mothers in front of the family to destroy the men. They took the young girls away.”
Earlier in the day the fifth victim to testify against Kamara detailed the alleged torture, killing and cannibalism of a schoolteacher in Foya that all victims have claimed was directed by the defendant.
He also talked more broadly of the suffering of people in Lofa during Ulimo’s occupation of the town. His telling of the experience of the women he had planned to marry was a harrowing example of the broader suffering of the people.
“M. was my girlfriend and Ugly Boy took her as a sex slave,” the victim told the Paris court talking of the now deceased perpetrator that many victims have alleged was Kamara’s lieutenant who followed his orders to commit many of the crimes. The court has ordered press to withhold victims’ names for their security.
“This was another blow to me,” the victim told the court. ”I really planned to marry her. The first time I saw her after the war, it was painful, but it had happened. She was not at fault. I saw her but the stigma was too heavy. I could no longer take her as a wife. By tradition anyone who takes a wife after that is easily rejected from society. In addition, because of her time as a sex slave, she conceived. I am feeling it for her now because her situation is too deplorable.”
The trial continues Tuesday with more testimonies from victims about the murder of a woman in Lofa.
This story is a collaboration with New Narratives as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project.
Liberia: “You are Kundi. You killed my sister” A third victim identifies Kamara as perpetrator in War Crimes Trial
Published: October 19, 2022 By: Anthony Stephens and Prue Clarke with New Narratives, Front Page Africa – Monrovia,
PARIS, France – On Tuesday a third victim identified Kunti Kamara, on trial for torture, cannibalism and crimes against humanity in the Paris Court, as “Co Kundi” the rebel commander who allegedly committed atrocities in Foya, Lofa County, Liberia.
The man was one of four plaintiffs who have brought the case against Kamara here in Paris, France where Kamara was living when he was arrested in 2019 after French investigators built a case against him.
“You are Kundi,” the man said turning to look at Kamara directly, barely containing his obvious emotion and rage. The plaintiff pointed at Kamara who was sitting behind his lawyers in a protective glass case. “I know you very well. You the one that killed my sister.”
The now elderly man told the court Kamara arrived at his house in Foya in late 1993 after the man’s sister’s baby had died. He alleged Kamara gave the family $L100 for their pain.
Soon after that Kamara allegedly ordered the victim’s sick and half naked sister – the mother of the child – dragged from the house. He accused her of witchcraft. The victim said Kamara and his troops had taken over the house for themselves and already had his wife, son and mother in custody at the time. Kamara did not know the man, who was standing with a crowd, was a member of the family.
The victim was overcome with tears as told the court that he had watched as Kamara put three bullets in his sister’s head.
Within months the man’s mother was also dead from illness. The victim blamed Kunti for the grief the murder of his sister had caused her.
“She cried every day,” he said. “So she became sick from not seeing my sister.”
The lawyer for the civil parties asked the victim if he had anything to say to Kamara but he took the opportunity to issue a warning to the judges instead.
“I’m very happy to see all the officers to take care of Kundi,” he said pointing to the court officers who accompany the defendant at all times. “This government should not leave Kundi to come back to Liberia.”
Kamara rejected all the allegations as he has done consistently throughout this trial.
“I’m just shocked,” an agitated Kamara told the president of the court Thierry Fusina. “I don’t know him. These people, it’s my first time to see them in my life. I don’t know them! They are lying on me. I’m not a criminal.”
Earlier in the day another witness to the alleged murder of the sick woman accused of witchcraft gave evidence that appeared to contradict testimony that he gave to an earlier investigating judge in the case.
Unfortunately, ritual murder are no exception in Africa’s oldest republic. Experience teaches us that ritualistic murders in Liberia are on the increase during elections campaigns and when important political appointments are expected – which though does not exclude other circumstances explaining a rise in ritual killings. In the past four to five years, ritual murders have been reported in at least seven of Liberia’s fifteen counties including Montserrado, Bomi, Bong, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Grand Kru and Maryland counties. However, the absence of discoveries of mutilated bodies or reports of ritual murders should not be interpreted as the absence of these criminal and outdated superstitious practices. By definition, occult practices and ritualistic murders take place in secret.
In the article below reference is made to a prominent person who held a very senior position in the Weah Administration and who allegedly is said to be implied in the reported case of two young boys who were murdered for ritual activities. It should be underlined here that this is not the position of the webmaster of this site (FVDK). Moreover, I uphold the principle that no one is guilty unless found guilty by an independent judge after an impartial, public trial.
The original article shown here includes a number of links referring to other, previously published articles containing relevant and related information. I have decided to also include these articles in this posting in order to avoid the (future) situation that the original articles are no longer available or accessible after they have lost been lost in cyberspace, unfortunately not an uncommon phenomenon.
All articles together sketch a reality in Liberia which is rarely shown but which exists. No use to deny or to ignore it. A reality of traditional practices and beliefs, a reality of cultural history including respect for the ancestors. Notwithstanding the foregoing, it goes without saying that a ‘war on ignorance and superstition’ is a must in Africa’s oldest republic, which was created in 1847 by African Americans.
…. When the National Police could not solve a double homicide in their rural community, the people of Beo Bonlay Town, Nimba County, employed the most unconventional means.
It was a breakthrough in a double-murder case that would have been written off as an anomaly except that, in the context of numerous unsolved gruesome murders across Liberia in recent years, police investigations have consistently come up with the same results as they did in this one — “no evidence” or “no foul play” — case closed.
But the people of Beo Bonlay Town, District # 6, Nimba County, would not take ‘no’ for an answer. In an unprecedented move, they summoned their tribal devils to confirm their hunch and solve what they believed were the murders of two innocent boys who had gone missing and later turned up dead in separate locations.
It all started on June 9, when the two boys, Handsome-boy Mahn, 9 and Zayglay David, 4, went missing after they returned from the farm in the afternoon.
Hours after their disappearance, the community launched an immediate manhunt for the children. Unfortunately they were found dead with their bodies dumped in two separate wells about 20 minutes apart.
The deaths of the two children sent shockwaves of fear and concern among citizens of the district, especially when the first batch of investigators from the Tappita Police Detail, led by the detail commander and the 15-man coroner jury, ruled that there was no foul-play.
But reports reaching the Daily Observer said an initial examination of the corpses showed that the boys’ necks had been broken. There was also an alleged ‘erasing mark’ on the coroner jury’s report, but this is yet to be verified.
“The devil”, it is said, “is in the details.” Or is it?
Unconvinced by the “no foul-play” conclusions of the coroner jury and the police, the citizens this time brought out their tribal devils to search for the perpetrators. It was during the search that seven men were arrested on July 16, and turned over to police in Sanniquellie for interrogation.
Even after the tribal devils arrested the suspects, the police (again) claimed that due to lack of scientific evidence, they could not charge the alleged perpetrators. This caused the case to drag on until September, when the Crime Services Department (CSD) sent another batch of officers, backed by former Ganta Police Commander, Adolphus Zorh, to conduct the investigation.
Commander Zorh’s team was able to establish the facts and determine that two of the seven men be released because police could not find any evidence to charge them. The other five men arrested by tribal devils were charged by police and sent to court.
According to the CSD, Sanniquellie Detachment, Liberia National Police, the five men were charged with “murder, criminal facilitation and criminal conspiracy” and sent to the Sanniquellie Magisterial Court for preliminary investigation.
Following their arrest by the tribal devils in the beginning, one of the suspects, Prince Karney, age 41, immediately confessed that they were given the amount of US$1,200 for the murderous operation.
He said he then hired one Zayee Winpea, 43, to kill the two children for the amount of US$300 and gave US$150 to Nenkerwon Mahn, an 18-year-old uncle of the kids, to serve as a watchman while the killing was carried out.
The oldest among the suspects, 45-year-old Morris Gonwon, was also promised US$150 for his role in the killing, which was not spelled out. Two of the seven suspects, George Sumah and Lawrence Sumah, were hired to take the victims’ blood to Monrovia, while another suspect, Harrison Sumah, was the one who lured the kids with candy before grabbing them.
During the CSD final investigation, Morris Gonwon and George Sumah were released on grounds that there was not enough evidence to prosecute them. The five persons charged and sent to court are Prince Karney, Harrison Sumah, Lawrence Freeman, Nenkerwon Mahn, and Zayee Winpea.
Prince Karney is said to be the Youth leader of Boe Bonlay and coordinator for the “Friends of Jackson Paye”, a political canvassing group. Jackson Paye is a former Deputy Minister of National Defense who has expressed his desire to contest for the Nimba County District #6 representative seat in 2023.
The murder suspects alleged that the former deputy minister facilitated the killing by giving them the US$1,200 for the operation — to get the children’s blood, allegedly for ritual purposes.
However, Jackson Paye on Truth FM on Thursday, June 22, 2022 denied having any connection to the killings, describing the acts as barbaric, inhumane and uncivilized. He explained that the “Friends of Paye” want the law to take its course, ensuring the alleged perpetrators face the full weight of the law.
It is not clear whether the tribal devils ever got to the heart of the matter to determine exactly who ordered the men to kill the two children. We may never know.
However, in cases where communities in Liberia have invoked tribal justice systems to supersede statutory law — especially in the absence of forensic evidence — statutory systems tend to give way. Especially in rural communities, law enforcement personnel dare not interfere with matters involving tribal devils.
In the recent past, such has been the case in instances where communities have risen up to express their dissatisfaction when their expectations of government have been egregiously dashed.
In November 2021, Lofa County, a powerful sect of the Poro Society, the Ngaimu, staged a protest, blocking the bridge that connects Bong and Lofa counties, to oppose the delay by the Supreme Court to decide whether Senator-elect Brownie Samukai should take his Lofa County senatorial seat, which had been unoccupied due to a disability imposed on him by the Court for nearly a year.
In response, the Deputy Inspector General for Operations of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Marvin Sackor, threatened necessary actions against any country devil protest. Yet, no move was made on the part of the police.
A month earlier, October 18, 2021, members of the secret Poro Society shut down ArcelorMittal Liberia’s operations in Yekepa, Nimba County for more than 48 hours at both Mount Tokadeh and Mount Gangra, over claims that AML failed to live up to its previous amended mineral development agreement (MDA) with the government.
For ArcelorMittal Liberia, this was not the first time. Barely six weeks earlier, on September 27, 2021, the Poro masters temporarily besieged the operation areas of AML, halting operations for 8 hours.
But tribal or traditional devils are only one extreme of traditional justice systems. Liberia recognizes a whole regime of what it calls “trial by ordeal”, a method by which suspects are made to undergo an often dangerous test to determine their innocence or guilt. However, while the United Nations has called on Liberia to abolish all forms of trial by ordeal, only the most harmful aspects of this system of justice have been abolished.
Published: November 26, 2021 By: Marcus Malaya – Daily Observer, Liberia
A protest against the Supreme Court of Liberia has resulted in the shut-down of the border crossing point between Bong and Lofa Counties – leaving several business people stranded along the way.
The protest, which is being led by the powerful sect of the Poro Society, the Ngaimu, is intended to oppose the delay by the Supreme Court to decide the fate of the Lofa County senatorial seat, which has been unoccupied due to the disability imposed on Senator-elect Brownie Samukai by the Court.
The protesters, who are all men and led by the fearsome, Ngaimu – the traditional name of head of the Poro Society in that part of Liberia – have blocked the road, halting the movement of people and goods between the two counties, while those who are not members of the society have remained indoors since the morning hours of Thursday, November 25.
“Ngaimu has set a roadblock in the village of Beyan Town on the Lofa side of the border. The action of Ngaimu is in protest of the Court and the Government of Liberia’s failure to announce the Senate seat of Lofa County vacant since the Senator-elect Samukai has not been able to take the seat due to his disability by the Supreme Court,” disclosed eyewitnesses at the scene of the protest.
The protesters, however, vowed to keep the road closed until the Court ruled on the matter – deciding if the senate will be declared vacant or not. And security personnel, some of whom are not members of the society, have also been dared to remove the roadblock, setup by Ngaimu.
The fear of the Ngaimu has also prevented the women from going out to tend to their farms, since it is forbidden for a woman to lay eyes on it – as doing so comes with consequences, traditionalists claim.
The eyewitness accounts revealed that there are more than three “Ngaimus” currently at the St. Paul Bridge in Beyan Town and there are more “Ngaimus” coming to join the others currently at the bridge.
The Supreme Court months ago denied Samukai’s request for the high court to reverse the judgment of the Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice, which found him and two others guilty of misapplying over US$1 million in pension funds stored up in a bank account for members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) when he served as Defense Minister.
The disability includes the payment of US$173,276.05 as some portion of his share of money illegally withdrawn from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) pension funds, for which he was found guilty of misapplication of entrusted property, theft of property, and other criminal offenses by Criminal Court ‘C’ with such ruling confirmed by the Supreme.
While Samukai made a payment of US$173,276.05, his two deputies Joseph F. Johnson, former Deputy Minister for Administration, and J. Nyumah Dorkor, former Comptroller, did not despite being found guilty jointly.
Samukai, together with Johnson and Dorkor, were to pay the amount of US$573,832.68 within a six-month period to avoid imprisonment, according to the Supreme Court mandate to the Criminal Court ‘C’. It was out of the amount of US$573,832.68 that Samukai alone managed to pay the US$173,276.05, which his followers believed is the portion of his share of the money.
The Court then ordered the National Election Commission not to certify him until the disability imposed on him as a result of his conviction for felony is removed. The Court argued that from a review of the records, Samukai and his two deputies were jointly charged with the commission of the crimes for which they were brought down guilty.
The Supreme Court added that the restitution is a part of the sentence, as such; Samukai and the two others are to restitute the amount withdrawn from the AFL Pension Account without the permission or authorization of the soldiers.
History of the case
Samukai, then former Defense Minister, together with Johnson and Dorkor without any authorization, withdrew the amount US$1,147,665.35 from the pension fund belonging to soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
The three men were later declared guilty of multiple crimes including misuse of private funds and subsequently sentenced to two years in prison each, and also ordered to restitute the money within a year by the Criminal Court ‘C’. The judgment was later modified by the Supreme Court after Samukai and the others appealed against it to the high court.
In the modification, the Supreme Court said it was suspending their prison term on grounds that, if they were to pay fifty percent (50) of the judgment amount of the US$1,147,665.35, which is $573,832.68, within six months period, which expired by August, 26, they would avoid Imprisonment.
The Deputy Inspector General for Operations of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Marvin Sackor has threatened necessary actions against any country devil protest.
He said if people are disenchanted, they should make use of the legal means rather than staying in protest to undermine the peace of the country.
“It is unfortunate and unfair that some of our people are using the tradition to undermine the peace and security of this country. Let me say this, article 17 of our constitution gives citizens the right to peacefully assemble and petition their government. So if you, as a citizen of this country, will use whatever political means or any disenchantment to undermine the peace of this country, I can assure the public that the Liberia National Police will use whatever force necessary to contain that situation,” he warned.
Since the staging of a protest by members of the poro society in Lofa county to call on the attention of the Supreme Court to decide the fate of Senator-elect Brownie Samukai, traditional leaders have been accused of allowing politicians to influence them.
The group of men led by their powerful poro master, Ngainmu, on November 30, blocked the entrance of the St. Paul bridge that connects Bomi and Lofa counties to pressure the court to reopen the case of Senator-elect Samukai.
Sackor added that if traditional people have any disenchantment in the country, they should use legal means to get redress instead of blocking roads to cause chaos among citizens.
“There is no exception to the rule of law; our traditional people need to understand that this country is governed by law,” Sackor declared. “ Anyone – I am very clear here – that thinks that they have any other power to undermine the Constitution, trust me, the Liberia National Police will use every legal means to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law. So, I am appealing to our traditional people in Lofa. Handle your situation through the legal means. Any attempt to block the St. Paul Bridge, we are under obligation to make sure that the Constitution is intact.”
Nathaniel F. McGill, Minister of State, also accused politicians of masterminding the protest and branding it as a disgrace to Liberian culture.
“I was watching Facebook live and I saw a country devil protesting. This has never happened in our country, it is a shame and whoever did that must be disgraceful,” said Minister McGill.
Addressing the Ministry of information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) regular press briefing in Monrovia, Sackor reminded traditional leaders that they are not above the law and, therefore, any attempt to block roads, the police will not hesitate to act.
Meanwhile, the deputy inspector general has revealed that due to the increasing wave of criminal activities in the country, there will be restrictions imposed on motorcyclists.
He said a police investigation has shown that criminals are transported by motorcyclists so the Police have commenced the implementation of the no-go-zones for motorcyclists ahead of the festive season in Liberia, to avoid the transportation of criminals.
Steel giant ArcelorMittal was forced yesterday to shut down its Yekepa operations after members of the secret poro society made an unannounced visit to protest against alleged neglect by the company.
The strike action, which is highly unprecedented for members of the highly respected Poro Society in Liberia, comes amid rising tension in the company’s operating areas weeks after it had signed an amended mineral development agreement with the government of Liberia.
The agreement, which now awaits ratification from lawmakers, has been met with rejection by mines communities in Nimba County, where the company operates, over claims that AML failed to live up to its previous amended mineral development agreement (MDA) with the government.
Poro Society members, led by the Poro Master, shut down AML operations for more than 48 hours at both Mount Tokadeh and Mount Gangra and might likely last for 14 days, according to an insider close to the Poro masters.
The protest, which is the second in a month, is happening as county officials remain mute on the matter while they negotiate behind closed doors.
However, an elderly resident of one of mine communities has disclosed that the company, through its’ Community liaison manager, has begun negotiating with society members to cancel their protest and meet on the round table to discuss issues relating to their concerns.
In a statement, the AML confirmed the incident, saying, “on early Saturday morning, October 16, 2021, some individuals wearing ceremonial traditional costumes blocked the main access road to the mining site of ArcelorMittal Liberia in Yekepa, disrupting business operations of the company.”
“As a company that prioritizes safety and security, ArcelorMittal Liberia warns of the associated risks of unauthorized entry of individuals into an industrial environment and condemns such illegal action, said the statement from AML. “AML reaffirms its commitment to community engagement on issues around its operations as a means of finding a common ground.”
Meanwhile, AML said while they respect and continue to support traditional and cultural activities especially in their operational areas, they disagreed with disruptions and acts aimed at causing fear among its workforce are unwarranted and undermine close working relations.
On September 27, 2021 the Poro masters temporarily sieged the operation areas of AML, halting operation of 8 hours.
There has been tension in Nimba County since the Government and AML reached a new Mineral Development Agreement to extend the operation to 2036, where AML stands to invest about UD$ 800 million.
The deal has so far been rejected by mining communities due to claims of past abandonment and negligence of previous MDA.
The following article was originally published on November 1, 2007. It contains highly recommended reading for the readers of this site. It was decided to include it in this posting for two reasons. First, it was originally included in the Daily Observer article on the two slain boys in Nimba County (on top) and secondly, because it contains relevant background information on traditional beliefs and practices which still exist in Liberia despite being outlawed for reasons which will be clear after having read the article.
Liberia: Trial by ordeal makes the guilty burn but “undermines justice”
Published: November 1, 2007 By: OCHA Services – Relief Web
MONROVIA, 1 November 2007 (IRIN)
About 50 people in the village of Klay, northwestern Liberia, recently gathered to watch a man apply red-hot metal to the limbs of four youths accused of robbery.
The man dipped a machete in a concoction of water, palm oil and kola nuts, held it in fire for several minutes, and then placed it on the right legs of the four suspects. None of the youths – ages 16 to 26 – appeared to flinch. They were deemed not guilty.
This practice known as ‘sassywood’ is banned under national law, but is still regarded as a legitimate form of justice by many Liberians. A suspect is subjected to intense pain and judged on his or her reaction – if the hot metal burns the person’s leg, he or she is found guilty.
The UN has repeatedly warned that the practice is undermining efforts to improve human rights in Liberia as the country attempts to recover from 14 years of war.
Many legal specialists and human rights activists say relying on customs such as trial by ordeal – often harmful and even deadly – is down to the decrepit state of Liberia’s judicial system. And many say not enough is being done to restore the sector, left in tatters by the war.
Four years after the fighting ended, progress in rebuilding the judicial and corrections system is “very slow”, according to an August report by the UN Security Council. “The judicial system is constrained by limited infrastructure, shortage of qualified personnel, lack of capacity to process cases, poor management and lack of the necessary will to institute reforms.” The report said most people do not have access to legal counsel.
Legal advisers in Liberia say the absence of functioning courts in most rural areas is due in large part to lawyers’ reluctance to take judgeships there, as well as the lack of infrastructure for courts.
In the central Liberian town of Gbarnga in Bong County, 150km north of the capital Monrovia, residents told IRIN that trial by ordeal is the only means to adjudicate alleged crimes.
“If somebody is accused of stealing money, clothes, jewellery, food or other items, the best [way] to know who committed the act is to administer sassywood, which is fast – it takes less than 30 minutes to know who did the act,” Gbarnga resident Johnny Bono said.
Users of sassywood believe the person administering it and the instruments used have mystical powers. Practitioners are paid in money or goods – up to 2000 Liberian dollars (US$32) per ‘trial’ in the capital and about a third of that in rural areas. Sometimes payment is kola nuts and a pure-white chicken.
According to a rights activist in Nimba County, the problem is that many people will submit to sassywood because they do not know it has been outlawed.
“Sassywood is very common here and most people believe that it is the only means of knowing a guilty person,” said Dualo Lor of the church-based NGO Equip-Liberia in Nimba, 300km from Monrovia. “They are not even aware the practice is outlawed.”
He group recently prevented the application of sassywood on a 32-year-old man accused of theft. “We have been trying very hard [to educate] the people about the danger of sassywood, but they just have not stopped it.”
Some legal experts say it will be tough to stop if citizens do not feel they have a reliable justice system to take its place.
“The trial by ordeal in most parts of the country clearly shows that most people do not have confidence in the court system,” Anthony Valcke, Liberia country director of the American Bar Association in Africa, told IRIN. “If people had such confidence, they would not resort to trial by ordeal.”
“No amount of laws or government order can stop sassywood,” Yerkula Zaizay, a resident of Gbarnga, told IRIN. “It is a tradition that our forefathers left with us. This is better than going to court. My late grandfather taught me how to apply sassywood and it is part of my culture so it cannot be easily stopped.”
Gbarnga resident Bono said, “We cannot waste our time going to court. The sassywood is our courtroom. This is what our forefathers have been practising in the past and it has been working.”
Lawyer Augustine Toe, head of the Justice and Peace Commission, a Catholic human rights group, said: “Sassywood undermines the justice system of this country and the rights of an accused are not protected. Our constitution provides that anyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a [court of law].”
Liberia’s chief prosecutor, Tiawon Gongloe, told IRIN he had instructed all county prosecuting officers to arrest anyone carrying out trial by ordeal.
“We are aware sassywood is going on and this act is not only unlawful, but unconstitutional,” he said, noting that 12 people were arrested earlier this year in southeastern Liberia for having administered sassywood.
UN independent human rights expert, Charlotte Abaka, said the government had to do more. “The Liberian government should take concrete steps to enforce the ban on trial by ordeal,” she said, calling the practice a “grave” breach of human rights.