Warning: the following story’s graphic content and photo may upset the reader.
One of Liberia’s best and most reliable newspapers, FrontPageAfrica, yesterday published a harrowing and scaring report on an attempted kidnapping, presumably for ritualistic purposes. It all happened in Paynesville, Greater Monrovia, Montserrado County, around 3:00 a.m. last Thursday, September 21.
When hearing or reading about alleged or attempted ritualistic murders I am always wary of the danger of jumping too soon to conclusions. But certain details of the story which the aimed victim Sherman Cooper tells us are very realistic: the black, unmarked car, a Nissan Pathfinder, the way he managed to escape from his agressors, as observed by an eyewitness, and above all his wounds, the cutting marks around his neck and another on his genitals. Moreover, and the author of the article, Lennart Dodoo, also mentions this explicitly, it is election time in Liberia: ‘Ritualistic killings during elections are not a new phenomenon in Liberia.’
It sounds unreal, in the 21st century, but we cannot close our eyes for the at times brutal reality. Investigations into real or alleged ritual killings very often fizzle out in Liberia, reportedly because of the alleged, suspected or real involvement of ‘big shots’ (politicians, high-ranking government officials or other highly-placed Liberians) – similar to investigations into alleged or real corruption.
We’ll see whether we ever hear more about this case… (webmaster FVDK)
Liberia: Man Narrowly Escapes Attempted Ritualistic Murder; Brother Abducted by Kidnappers, Still Missing
Published: September 27, 2023 By: Lennart Dodoo – FrontPageAfrica, Liberia
MONROVIA – Saved by an act of bravery but severely wounded, Sherman Cooper, a victim of an alleged kidnapping and attempted ritualistic killing, now wonders about the whereabouts of his brother, Michael, whom the alleged kidnappers escaped with.
Sherman jumped out of the black, unmarked speeding Nissan Pathfinder, which had given him and his brother a lift from Paynesville, near the Fabulous opposite Bethesda.
FrontPageAfrica has confirmed that Sherman is currently receiving medical attention at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center’s trauma unit.
Some residents of the area and eyewitnesses say the unmarked black Nissan Pathfinder is often seen patrolling the VOA area in Paynesville.
An eyewitness who was driving behind the speeding SUV said he saw Sherman jump out of the moving vehicle. He said the kidnappers looked foreign and suspected them of being Burkinabe.
In a video seen by FrontPageAfrica, Sherman, who was stark naked and bloody, is seen with cutting marks around his neck and another on his genitals. He also sustained severe injuries on his knee, head, forehead, back, buttock, and thigh.
He is heard wailing, “I’m in pain, oh, I’m in pain, oh. Y’all help me. They carried my brother. They’re going to kill my brother. Y’all, please carry me to the hospital.”
He added, “The people put the windshield [glass] up, I fought. The passenger seat behind [extra cabin seat in the trunk] and two people were sitting behind we didn’t know. When we sat, that’s when they… I said ooh they want to kill us.”
FrontPageAfrica learned that the police and security authorities have been interrogating Sherman as the whereabouts of Michael remain unknown.
According to the eyewitness who saw Sherman jumping down from the car, he stopped his car and observed when he saw Sherman jump from the car. “He started crawling towards me, crying ‘Please help me, please help me,’” he explained.
This happened around Rehab.
According to the eyewitness, the incident occurred at about 3:30 a.m. last Thursday. In his narrative, he said Sherman and his brother were supposed to alight at Rehab, but as the vehicle approached Rehab, it increased its speed, and that’s when Sherman and his brother started fighting.
“The guys put a rope around their necks. They had two guys in the back seat, so they put a rope around their necks, and they started fighting. But he was fighting for his life, so he managed to hold on to the glass, and they tried to put the glass up, but his hands were already between the glass, so he managed to pull the glass down with strength while they were concentrating on taking off his private part, and he managed to jump through the window while they were at the junction,” the eyewitness explained.
Ritualistic killings during elections are not a new phenomenon in Liberia. In 2021, a UN human rights expert called on the government to investigate a series of killings that have occurred this year, some of which have reportedly been linked to ritualistic practices.
At least 10 people were killed in unclear circumstances in December 2021, including five in September, reportedly with suspected links to ritualistic practices or political motivations.
Last week, Dr. Alan W. White, Co-Executive Director of the Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights, delivered a compelling testimony before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, addressing the pressing issue of ritualistic killings in Africa, with a particular focus on Liberia. Dr. White shed light on the Foundation’s mission to combat human rights violations, including ritualistic killings and the alarming allegations linking these acts to high-ranking government officials, including the Executive Mansion.
In his testimony, Dr. White detailed the challenges faced in gathering information and conducting investigations into ritualistic killings, emphasizing the danger faced by sources who dare to speak out against these crimes.
Dr. White’s testimony also touched upon recent cases of ritualistic killings in Liberia, such as the mysterious disappearance of three young men hired for a task in Bong County in October 2020 by the St. Moses Funeral Home. The bodies of these young men were never returned to their families, and investigations into their deaths remain unresolved, raising suspicions of involvement by influential individuals with close government ties.
“The Foundation has received disturbing information about the frequency of such killings and the allegations linking it to the Executive Mansion (The Office of the President) and other high-ranking government officials. Details of these atrocities are difficult to obtain,” he said.
He also linked the past regime to acts of ritualistic killings, saying, “The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration during her 12 years (2006-2018) in office was plagued with ritual killings, and despite vows to bring them to an end, they continued. The same problems continue under the Weah administration, and unlike Sirleaf, there were no insiders reporting her direct involvement with the ritual killings.”
A few days ago, on September 19, an important meeting took place in the United States, in the House of Representatives to be precise. A subcommittee on global human rights, of the Commission of Foreign Affairs, held a hearing on ‘Efforts to Address Ritual Abuse and Sacrifice in Africa’.
Witnesses invited to speak were Obed Byamugisha, Program Advisor, Kyampisi Childcare Ministries, Miriam Fullah, Trafficking in Persons Protection Manager, World Hope International, Dr. Alan White, Co-Executive Director, Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights and former Chief of Investigations of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL, which sentenced former Liberian warlord and president Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison), and Josephine Aparo, Founding Member, Global Survivor Network and International Justice Mission.
At least three leading Liberian newspapers published articles on the hearing, revelations and accusations notably of Dr. Alan White, who linked immediate past and present Liberian governments to ritualistic killings. The three articles – in the Daily Observer, Front Page Africa, and The New Dawn – are reproduced below. In a separate posting I will pay attention to the testimonies of the other witnesses.
The responsibility for the reporting on Dr. Alan White’s testimony in the three Liberian newspapers rests entirely with the publishers of said newspapers. White’s testimony addresses the roles of former president Sirleaf (2006 – 2018) and president Weah (2018 – present) and he formulates his observations and conclusions carefully. The newspapers’ headings are meant to attract the attention of the readers (buyers), without nuance. Therefore and to avoid any misunderstanding about White’s statements I’ve also included the full text of his important testimony (below).
Dr. White, who – as Chief Investigator of the SCSL – has extensive knowledge of ritualistic practices and abuses which occurred in Sierra Leone during this country’s civil war (1991-2002), also referred to these atrocities in his testimony. Moreover, he said, “This practice continues today in Sierra Leone and surges during election periods where people running for office believe that sacrificing a person, mostly younger boys and girls because it is believed the younger they are, the more power they get.”
With respect to Liberia he provides more than one example of ritualistic abuse and murder. His most serious accusation addresses the previous Administration of President Sirleaf and the present Weah Administration: “The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration during her 12 years (2006-2018) in office was plagued with ritual killings and despite vows to bring them to an end they continued. The same problems continue under the Weah administration and unlike Sirleaf there were no insiders reporting her direct involvement with the ritual killings. However, we have received information that current administration has been linked to ritualistic killings of children. Sources advise the police are not allowed to investigate these matters or if they do, it is done superficially as to not get to close to those involved. Also, because of the high-level links to the government it is taboo to say anything about it or otherwise you could be the next victim.”
White could hardly be more specific when stating: “The Foundation has received disturbing information about the frequency of such killings and the allegations linking it to the Executive Mansion (The Office of the President) and other high-ranking government officials. Details of these atrocities are difficult to obtain.”
On October 10, presidential and legislative elections will be held in Liberia. Should I add more? (webmaster FVDK).
Liberia: Alan White Accuses Weah’s Gov’t of Extrajudicial, Ritualistic Killings
…. Calls for justice for murdered auditors, three missing boys resound at U.S. Congressional hearings
Renowned human rights activist and Co-Executive Director for the Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights (AFHR), Dr. Alan White has told the United States House Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs that President George Weah and his Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) are involved in acts of extrajudicial and ritualistic killing.
Addressing the subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, under the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dr. White said that at least 10 people were killed in unclear circumstances in 2021, including five in September of that year reportedly with suspected links to ritualistic practices or political motivations.
The killings referenced by Dr. White, all of which occurred during the Weah administration, were never solved and remain fresh on the minds of Liberians as the country goes to the polls on October 10 this year, to elect a president, vice president and 88 legislators.
On December 10, 2021, the United Nations issued a public statement –“A UN human rights expert today called on the Liberian Government to promptly investigate a series of killings that have occurred this year, some of which have reportedly been linked to ritualistic practices.”
White told the subcommittee that his organization has received disturbing information about the frequency of such killings and the allegations linking it to the Executive Mansion (The Office of the President) and other high ranking government officials. Details of these atrocities, he said, are difficult to obtain.
“Sources advise the police are not allowed to investigate these matters or if they do, it is done superficially as to not get too close to those involved,” White told the Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations at a hearing on Tuesday, 19 September. “Also, because of the high-level links to the government it is taboo to say anything about it or otherwise you could be the next victim.”
White called on the U.S. government and global partners for the prosecution for these heinous crimes. “The killing must stop and hope your legislation can effect change and stop this madness once and for all,” he told the subcommittee.
White’s AFHR, a nonprofit organization, located in Washington, DC, USA, targets human rights violators, that engage in public corruption and seek justice and accountability for the victims of such atrocities. The group is also actively engaged in conducting investigations and compiling information about those individuals who are committing ritualistic killings, especially in Liberia.
In his testimony, White made specific references to the mysterious disappearance of three young men who were hired by Moses Ahossouhe, owner of the St. Moses Funeral Parlor in Monrovia, to undertake a task in Bong County; the high profile death of four auditors; as well as other mysterious deaths that took place in the country under the Weah administration.
On October 17, 2020, Robert M. Blamo, Jr, 29, Siafa Gbana Boimah, 34, and Bobby S. Gbeanquoi, 32, were reported drowned in a river in Fuamah District, lower Bong County, when a canoe they were allegedly riding capsized.
“The bodies of the three young men were retrieved by Ahoussouhe and never returned to the parents. He has close ties to the President and the government,” White told the committee. “And the Ministry of Justice has failed to provide an update or release the outcome of an investigative report on circumstances that led to the conclusion they drowned. Why didn’t they release the bodies to the family?”
The aggrieved families believed that their children are being kept in a sacred place to be used for alleged ‘ritualistic purposes’. The family members sought the assistance of the international community, including the US Embassy and the United Nations.”
Three of the most recent victims were either former officials or had links to high profile former politicians, he said. “Even a recent death of some young girls involved in political campaign event held by the CDC sparked outrage by the citizens and allegations their deaths were done for ritualistic reasons,” he said while referencing the headline of a local newspaper which said: Citizens to President Weah: ‘No ritual can help you from leaving office after the elections.’
White noted that the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration during her 12 years (2006-2018) in office was plagued with ritual killings and despite vows to bring them to an end they continued. “The same problems continue under the Weah administration and, unlike Sirleaf, there were no insiders reporting her direct involvement with the ritual killings,” he said.
Over the past 20 years White has been actively engaged in seeking justice and accountability for victims of human rights violations and conducting criminal investigations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Africa, most specifically West Africa. From July 2002-July 2005, he was detailed to the United Nations backed Special Court for Sierra Leone located in Freetown, Sierra Leone West Africa where he served as the Chief of Investigations.
“As Chief of Investigations of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, I directed all criminal investigations which led to numerous indictments and convictions, most notably was former Liberian President Charles Taylor who was the first sitting Head of State to be indicted and convicted for war crimes and continues to serve his 50 year prison sentence.”
White was one of four witnesses who testified during the hearing on the theme: “Efforts to Address Ritual Abuse and Sacrifice in Africa” on Tuesday, September 19, 2023. The others were Obed Byamugisha, Program Advisor, Kyampisi Childcare Ministries; Miriam Fullah, Trafficking in Persons Protection Manager, World Hope International; and Josephine Aparo, Founding Member, Global Survivor Network and International Justice Mission.
He applauded the work of the Subcommittee and its members, noting that his organization will continue to work on the issues. “We hope that this Hearing will shed a very bright light on a very dark issue plaguing many African countries and especially Liberia, who experienced this despicable crime against humanity during war and peace, yet it doesn’t stop,” he said.
His testimony to the U.S. House Subcommittee is the latest deposit in a trove of numerous reports with claims of crime and corruption on the part of the Weah administration. So far, some of these claims have resulted in sanctions against three of Weah’s top lieutenants — former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill; former Solicitor General, Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus; and former Managing Director of the National Port Authority, Bill Twehway.
Yet, amid the U.S. sanctions, the three individuals continue to wield influence across the country — especially during the current election period, as Both McGill and Twehway are splurging cash to gain favor with voters in order to be elected to legislative office come October 10.
Dr. White’s hope that the U.S. Congress’ “… legislation can effect change and stop this madness once and for all,” might resonate with many Liberians at home and abroad, but the October 10 elections will be the litmus test of whether the critical mass of Liberians at home feel the same way about the state of affairs in their country.
Liberia: Dr. Alan White Highlights Ritualistic Killings in Liberia before U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee; Links Immediate Past and Current Government
Published: September 20, 2023 By: Lennart Dodoo – Front Page Africa, Liberia
Washington, D.C. – Dr. Alan W. White, Co-Executive Director of the Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights, delivered a compelling testimony before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, addressing the pressing issue of ritualistic killings in Africa, with a particular focus on Liberia. Dr. White shed light on the Foundation’s mission to combat human rights violations, including ritualistic killings and the alarming allegations linking these acts to high-ranking government officials, including the Executive Mansion.
The Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., has been dedicated to targeting human rights violators, exposing public corruption, and advocating for justice and accountability for the victims of such atrocities.
Others who testified before the Committee headed by Congressman Chris Smith Obed Byamugisha, Program Advisor, Kyampisi Childcare Ministries; Miriam Fullah, Trafficking in Persons Protection Manager, World Hope International; Josephine Aparo Founding Member, Global Survivor Network and International Justice Mission.
In his testimony, Dr. White detailed the challenges faced in gathering information and conducting investigations into ritualistic killings, emphasizing the danger faced by sources who dare to speak out against these crimes.
Dr. White’s credentials as Chief of Investigations for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where he directed criminal investigations leading to numerous indictments and convictions, lent significant weight to his testimony. He notably highlighted the conviction of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, the first sitting Head of State to be indicted and convicted for war crimes, serving a 50-year prison sentence.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the devastating civil war in Sierra Leone, spanning from 1991 to 2002, which resulted in the deaths of over 70,000 people. Dr. White’s investigations led him to neighboring Liberia, which also experienced two brutal civil wars, resulting in the deaths of over 250,000 Liberians.
During his tenure as Chief of Investigations, Dr. White bore witness to unspeakable human rights violations perpetrated through ritualistic activities, a phenomenon he had not encountered before. He recounted a chilling story from 2002, where a 70-year-old man seeking a political position in a local Village, believed in black magic and sacrificed a 9-year-old boy to gain power. This horrifying act shed light on the prevalence of ritualistic killings in West Africa, where individuals commission murders to obtain body parts for magic spells and gain political power.
The Foundation has received disturbing information about the frequency of such killings and the allegations linking it to the Executive Mansion (The Office of the President) and other high-ranking government officials. Details of these atrocities are difficult to obtain.
Dr. Alan W. White, Co-Executive Director of the Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights
Dr. White’s testimony revealed the widespread practice of ritualistic killings during Sierra Leone’s civil war, with various rebel groups and warring factions, such as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), and the Civil Defense Force (CDF), routinely engaging in such acts. He described how rebels would boast about consuming the organs of their victims, believing it granted them supernatural power.
Importantly, Dr. White highlighted that ritual killings persist in Sierra Leone today, often escalating during election periods when some politicians believe they can gain power through human sacrifices. These alarming practices have also been reported in Liberia, where ritualistic killings are a combination of traditional beliefs and the criminal behavior of unscrupulous politicians.
Liberia has a history of ritualistic killings during its civil wars, with figures like Milton Blahyi, also known as ‘General Butt Naked’, publicly admitting to eating children’s hearts and taking part in human sacrifices to ensure victory in battle.
Dr. White’s testimony also touched upon recent cases of ritualistic killings in Liberia, such as the mysterious disappearance of three young men hired for a task in Bong County in October 2020 by the St. Moses Funeral Home. The bodies of these young men were never returned to their families, and investigations into their deaths remain unresolved, raising suspicions of involvement by influential individuals with close government ties.
“The Foundation has received disturbing information about the frequency of such killings and the allegations linking it to the Executive Mansion (The Office of the President) and other high-ranking government officials. Details of these atrocities are difficult to obtain,” he said.
He also linked the past regime to acts of ritualistic killings, saying “The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration during her 12 years (2006-2018) in office was plagued with ritual killings and despite vows to bring them to an end they continued. The same problems continue under the Weah administration and unlike Sirleaf there were no insiders reporting her direct involvement with the ritual killings.”
Dr. White commended the Subcommittee for its work and called for a thorough examination of the issue of ritualistic killings in Africa, especially in Liberia. He urged legislation that could bring an end to these heinous crimes, emphasizing the importance of exposing those involved and prosecuting them for their actions. The Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights remains committed to addressing this dark issue plaguing many African countries and hopes that the Subcommittee’s efforts will help put an end to these atrocities once and for all.
— Dr. Alan White asks U.S. for prosecution of those in ritualistic killings in Liberia
Published: September 20, 2023 By: New Dawn, Liberia
The U.N. former chief investigator for the special court of Sierra Leone, Dr. Alan White is requesting prosecution for ritualistic killings and despicable crimes against humanity in Liberia during war and in peace, saying “the killings must stop.”
Dr. Alan briefed U.S. lawmakers in Washington Tuesday, 19 September 2023, giving historical accounts of recent killings and those carried out during Liberia’s civil war for ritualistic purposes.
“Those involved need to be exposed and prosecuted for these heinous crimes. The killings must stop, and we hope that through legislature can effect change and stop this madness once and for all,” said Dr. White.
Dr. White indicated that former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s administration was plagued with ritualistic killings, and the same problem continues under incumbent President George Manneh Weah’s administration.
Unlike Sirleaf’s administration, Dr. White said, there was no insider reporting on her direct involvement on ritualistic killings.
However, he said he has received information that President Weah’s administration is being linked to the ritualistic killings of children.
He said sources have revealed that the police are only allowed to investigate these matters in a conspicuous but very superficial manner.
Dr. White explained that notable of these cases is the incident involving victims Robert Blamo, Jr., 29, Siafa Boimah, 33 and Blama, who went missing after being hired by St. Moses Funeral Parlor proprietor Mr. Moses Ahoussouhe to undertake a contract in Bong Mines.
Mr. Ahoussouhe was accused of hiring the three men on Saturday, 15 October 2020 to travel to Bong Mines to do technical work for him at his diamond creek when all three of them went missing. They were alleged to have drowned when a canoe they were riding in had capsized.
Dr. White said Ahoussouhe (St. Moses) retrieved the bodies of the three young men but they were never returned to their parents.
“He has close ties with the president and the Government of Liberia, and through the Ministry of Justice, he has contact as well. They failed to provide update or release the outcome of the investigation or report on the circumstances that led to the conclusion [that] they drowned,” said Dr. White.
Dr. White indicated that the aggrieved families believe that their children are being kept in a secret place to be used for ritualistic purposes.
He said the family members sought the assistance of the international community including the U.S. Embassy and the United Nations, leading the UN to call on the Liberian government to investigate killings which had been reported to link to ritual practice.
In 2021 alone, Dr. White said at least ten people were killed, reportedly linked to ritualistic killing or political motivation.
He added that they were either former officials or had links to former politicians. White noted that recent deaths involving some girls during President George Manneh Weah’s 2023 political campaign outraged the citizens.
He said the allegation is that the killings were done for ritualistic reasons. He also referenced citizens’ message to President Weah which was carried in the NewDawn newspaper’s headline that no amount of money or rituals can help President Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change from leaving office after the 10 October 2023 elections.
Dr. White said his organization will continue to work on these issues in African countries, especially Liberia which experiences despicable crimes against humanity during war and in peace.
He recalled that during the 14 years civil war in Liberia, there were so many cases where gunmen, some of them child soldiers, ate victims’ body parts.
He stated that it was well documented that during Liberia’s civil war, ritualistic killing was a common place, naming Gen. Butt Naked, now Evangelist Milton Blayee as of the notorious culprits.
According to Dr. White, Mr. Blayee testified before Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that he ate children’s hearts.
He said Blayee indicated that human sacrifices were intended to ensure victories in battles.
Full text of the Testimony Submitted to The Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations – “Efforts to Address Ritual Abuse and Sacrifice in Africa” – September 19, 2023 – 10:00 a.m. Statement of Dr. Alan W. White, Co-Executive Director – Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights – Washington, D.C. and Founding Chief of Investigations of the United Nations backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.
First of all I would like to the thank Chairman Congressman Chris Smith and Ranking Member Congresswoman Susan Wild, of the U.S. House of Representatives Global Health, Global Human Rights, International Organizations and other members of this Subcommittee for holding this very important hearing. I also want to publicly commend Congressman Smith for his tireless and unwavering efforts in seeking justice and accountability for countless victims of human rights violations from around the Globe. You provide a voice that otherwise would go unheard and a platform to those victims, who have suffered and continue to suffer with no one to turn to. Your steadfast support is globally recognized and very much needed in these troubled times we live in, and where so many atrocities are being committed around the world.
I am the Co-Executive Director for the Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights, a non- profit organization, located in Washington, DC. The Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights targets human rights violators, that engaged in public corruption and justice and accountability for the victims of such atrocities. We are actively engaged in conducting investigations and compiling information about those individuals who are committing ritualistic killings, especially in Liberia. The Foundation has received disturbing information about the frequency of such killings and the allegations linking it to the Executive Mansion (The Office of the President) and other high-ranking government officials. Details of these atrocities are difficult to obtain.
Sources to the Foundation are endangered just by speaking out – and I will discuss this later in my testimony.
Over the past 20 years I have been actively engaged in seeking justice and accountability for victims of human rights violations and conducting criminal investigations of war crimes and crimes against humanity on the continent of Africa, most specifically West Africa. During my last 3 years of Federal Law Enforcement service from July 2002-July 2005, I was detailed to the United Nations backed Special Court for Sierra Leone located in Freetown, Sierra Leone West Africa where I served as the Chief of Investigations. As Chief of Investigations of the Special Court for Sierra Leone I directed all criminal investigations which led to numerous indictments and convictions, most notably was former Liberian President Charles Taylor who was the first sitting Head of State to be indicted and convicted for war crimes and continues to serve his 50 year prison sentence.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established to investigate and prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibilty for the civil war in Sierra Leone, which lasted from March 1991 to January 2002 and resulted in the deaths of over 70,000 people. Our investigations led us to neighboring Liberia which had suffered two civil wars, the first from December 1989 to August 1997 and then again in 1999 to 2003 where over 250,000 Liberians were killed.
While serving as the Chief of Investigations I witnessed and investigated some of the most horrific and unspeakable human rights violations no one could ever imagine that someone could inflict on another human being. The horrors of civil war are always tragic, however, to see those involved in the commission of killing and torturing another human being by engaging in ritualistic activities was something I had not seen before and quite frankly prepared to deal with. Yet shortly after I arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone I recall in August 2002 a news story where a 70-year-old man seeking to become a Paramount Chief of a local Village, a political position in traditional system of local government and an integral element of governance, was convicted of a ritualistic killing. I learned quickly that ritualistic killings were common place, particularly in West Africa. This story reported the man seeking to become a Paramount Chief believed in black magic and in order to get elected he needed to sacrifice a young child and in this case he bought a 9-year old boy for 800,000 leones ($160) from a family desperate for money.
Reportedly he gruesomely killed the 9-year-old boy by slitting his throat and removing his liver and taking some blood to local witch doctors in the neighboring country of Guinea where they would use in making a liquid concoction he could drink and give him what is known as “Juju”. This was a term I learned later meant power and used in ritualistic killings by rebels fighting in the civil wars, both in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Suprisingly, I learned that ritual killings or human sacrifices to local deities were customary in parts of West Africa, where some people commission killings to obtain body parts for magic spells to gain political power and influence.
Early on during my criminal investigations of war crimes and crimes against in Sierra Leone I heard routinely about ritualistic killings involving the various rebel group and warring factions in Sierra Leone, which included the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and the Civil Defense Force (CDF).
The war started in Kailahun, so we started our investigations in that part of the country where we uncovered numerous mass graves and in most cases the victims were civilians, including children. Their identities were mostly unknown, although some names were given. However, our witness interviews revealed that the RUF or RUF/AFRC were identified as the alleged perpetrator.
There were several causes of death of the victims reported including they were locked in houses and burnt, “ritual human sacrifice for protection” and gunshot and knife wounds. One of the witnesses interviews I recall involved a female RUF ex-child combatant, who advised that ritual killings were routinely practiced on enemy fighters or on civilians, including children. Sadly, the rebels from the various warring factions would boast about killing their enemy, many of which were young child soldiers, and eating their heart, drinking their blood, or eating other body parts claiming they received extra power from doing so.
This practice continues today in Sierra Leone and surges during election periods where people running for office believe that sacrificing a person, mostly younger boys and girls because it is believed the younger they are, the more power they get. The Voice of America (VOA) in Freetown in 2012 reported on the so-called ritual murders during election time and have been a part of African society for centuries. “In Sierra Leone, some believe ritual murders increase during election time because some politicians think they will gain political power from another human’s body parts.”
Chief Minister, NaCSA Boss Indicted in Attempted Ritual Murder of Virgins Girls in Freetown (sierraloaded.sl)
In October 2021 a senior government official, who reported to the President of Sierra Leone was indicted for an attempted ritual murder of six “Virgin Girls” in Freetown. The Chief Minister in Sierra Leone has been accused of forcing a primary school teacher to kidnap six virgin schoolgirls for ritualistic purposes. Fortunately, the plot was foiled when one of the whistleblowers came forward and reported it to the police which led to the Chief Minister’s arrest and indictment. However, reportedly he was released from custody while the investigation continued and to date no prosecution has occurred.
Dr Fred P.M. VAN DER KRAAIJ, author of a blog known as liberiapastandpresent.org, who lived and worked in Liberia as an Economist has chronicled a number of the ritualistic killings and other significant events in Liberia. In one of his blogs, he writes — “Today’s practice of ritual killings in Liberia – because it still exists! – mainly is a combination of traditional beliefs which inspire men-eating and modern-day criminal behavior of unscrupulous politicians who consider their ambitions worth more than the life of their victims. During the 14-year civil war (1989-2003) there were so many cases of gunmen – some of them child soldiers – eating their victim’s hearts and other body parts that the Catholic Church issued a formal denunciation of these practices (Stephen Ellis, The Mask of Anarchy, 1999: dust jacket). Liberia.”
It is well documented that during the civil wars in Liberia that ritual killings were commonplace and one of the most notorious rebels engaged in such horrific acts, is Milton Blahyi aka General Butt Naked, a feared former Rebel Commander who fought in the Liberian civil war. He testified before the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) where he publicly stated “I ate children’s hearts,” and admitted to taking part in human sacrifices as part of traditional ceremonies intended to ensure victory in battle. He also told BBC that his forces his forces had killed over 20,000 people.
During the first civil war (1989-1996) there were also other reports about Charles Taylor and his rebels accounts reportedly the formation of a group of cannibals called Top 20 of which he was a member. Reportedly the group, comprised of Taylor and 16 rebels of his own army known as the National Patriotic Front for Liberia (NPFL) engaged in human sacrifices at Taylor’s house.
On December 10, 2004, BBC publicly reported Hundreds of Liberian women had taken to the streets of the capital, Monrovia, protested against a recent wave of ritual killings. Bodies of children had been found with some of their organs missing, taken for what are viewed as magical properties. These killings were reportedly linked to politicians and the wealthy, who many believe to pay for the murders to increase their chances of good fortune.
There were other media reports documenting, including the Analyst, the discovery of the bodies of two unidentified children around the Du River area. One of the victims was a girl believed to be 12 years old. The media reports quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the body was discovered with “fresh blood coming from its mouth and nose.”
The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration during her 12 years (2006-2018) in office was plagued with ritual killings and despite vows to bring them to an end they continued. The same problems continue under the Weah administration and unlike Sirleaf there were no insiders reporting her direct involvement with the ritual killings. However, we have received information that current administration has been linked to ritualistic killings of children. Sources advise the police are not allowed to investigate these matters or if they do, it is done superficially as to not get to close to those involved. Also, because of the high-level links to the government it is taboo to say anything about it or otherwise you could be the next victim.
One of the most notable allegations of ritualistic killings involve the mysterious disappearance of three young men who were hired by the Proprietor of the St. Moses Funeral Parlor to undertake a task in Bong County. On October 17, 2020, Robert M. Blamo, Jr, 29, Siafa Gbana Boimah, 34, and Bobby S. Gbeanquoi, 32, were reported drowned in a river in Fuama district, lower Bong County when a canoe they were allegedly riding capsized while returning to their respective homes. They were reportedly contracted to do a, “piece of job” at the Oriental mining company owned and operated by Mr. Moses H. Ahossouhe (Proprietor of St. Moses Funeral Parlour), and one Mr. Abraham S. Samuels. It was reported by Mr. Ahoussouhe that the three young men drowned. The bodies were retrieved by Mr. Ahoussouhe and never returned to the parents. He has close ties to the President and the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Ministry of Justice has failed to provide an update or release the outcome of an investigative report on circumstances that led to the conclusion they drowned. Why didn’t they release the bodies to the family?
The aggrieved families believed that their children are being kept in a sacred place to be used for alleged “ritualistic purposes.” The family members sought the assistance of the international community, including the US Embassy and the United Nations.
On December 10, 2021, the United Nations issued a public statement –“ A UN human rights expert today called on the Liberian Government to promptly investigate a series of killings that have occurred this year, some of which have reportedly been linked to ritualistic practices.”
At least 10 people have been killed in unclear circumstances in 2021, including five in September reportedly with suspected links to ritualistic practices or political motivations. According to information received by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, Morris Tidball-Binz, three of the most recent victims were either former officials or had links to high profile former politicians.
Even a recent death of some young girls involved in political campaign event held by the CDC sparked outrage by the citizens and allegations their deaths were done for ritualistic reasons. The local headlines read – Liberia – Citizens to President Weah: ‘No ritual can help you from leaving office after the elections.’
On August 24, 2023, the New Dawn News reported Several residents of Montserrado County have told incumbent President George Manneh Weah that no amount of alleged human sacrifice, ritual, and money can prevent him and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) from leaving office.
“We want to tell President Weah that no amount of human sacrifice, ritual, and money can help in this election,” potential voters said in Montserrado County.”
The foundation will continue to work on this issue and applauds the work of this Subcommittee and its members. We hope that this Hearing will shed a very bright light on a very dark issue plaguing many African countries and especially Liberia who experienced this despicable crime against humanity during war and peace, yet it doesn’t stop. Those involved need to be exposed and prosecuted for these heinous crimes. The killing must stop and hope your legislation can effect change and stop this madness once and for all.
There’s not much to add without risking repeating myself. Let me just briefly mention what I consider the triple motive of the perpetrator(s): first, to intimidate the bystander, the perceived enemy; secondly, to make clear that he, the actor, is the strongest, the conquerer, and thirdly, without doubt, there is a religious or superstitious drive, a belief in the supernatural powers of eating the heart of the enemy. Notably the latter motive makes it a ritualistic act, and murder, a despicable crime.
The 2009 report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) includes many examples of ritualistic acts committed during the back-to-back civil wars (1989-2003). For reasons only known to herself, President Sirleaf (2006-2018) never implemented the TRC recommendations including the prosecution of the rebel leaders responsible for war crimes and human rights violations, possibly because she was also recommended for a sanction because of her (admitted) support of the NPLF, the rebel organization which started the civil war in 1989. Also President Weah (2018 – present) decided not to start procedures establishing a war crimes court, backtracking on previous statements when still in opposition.
The result is impunity for the perpetrators. Injustice. An insult to the survivors and victims.
Liberians will go to the polls on October 10 to elect a president, vice president and 88 lawmakers. The incumbent president, George Weah, has shown his position when it comes to justice for the victims and survivors. His main challengers are a former Vice President under President Sirleaf, Joseph Boakai, from Lofa County, whose running mate is a political protégé of warlord-turned-senator Prince Johnson – yes, the rebel commander who in 1990 gave his men orders to torture and kill then President Samuel Doe – and Alexander Cummings, who has promised to establish a war crimes tribunal when elected into the highest office.
We’ll closely watch events in Liberia during the coming month(s). (FVDK)
Chopped up with an axe and a heart eaten out: some crimes never die
Published: September 13, 2023 By: Alain Werner – Civitas Maxima
Exactly 30 years ago, in the summer of 1993, a group of rebel soldiers sowed unheard-of terror in the town of Foya, in the small West African country of Liberia, then ravaged by civil war.
Here, 450 kilometers north of the capital Monrovia, a pious man respected by his community had the courage to denounce the rebel group that occupied the premises, ULIMO (United Liberation Movement of Democracy for Liberia). He did so to a humanitarian group, and told them that ULIMO was responsible for the looting of a hospital financed by humanitarian aid.
Once the foreigners had left, the pious man was taken to what was then used as an airstrip and his thorax was cut out by the rebels, his heart extracted and eaten in front of the population. “Try ULIMO, your heart” – which could be translated as “Defy ULIMO, we’ll take your heart” – was one of the slogans used to terrorize the population, a slogan that some civilians who survived that inferno still remember.
The most bloodthirsty of the ULIMO commanders, who opened the pious man’s chest with an axe and spread his killing spree to Foya, was known by the war nickname of “Ugly Boy”, despite his handsome features. The local population, who spoke a different dialect than the ULIMO soldiers, had nicknamed this commander differently among themselves, so as to be able to alert each other to his arrival without being understood by the rebels. They called him “Saah Chuey”, or “the man with the axe” in the Kissi language, as this commander was famous for chopping up civilians with his axe.
“Ugly Boy” was never tried for his ignominious deeds. Indeed, legend has it that he died by popular vindication, having been recognized in Guinea by refugees who had fled Liberia. However, if he were still alive today, “Ugly Boy” would still not have been tried in Liberia.
Indeed, in August we will be celebrating 20 years since the end of the wars in this country, and yet no one has been tried by a court in the country; the government and the United Nations having done nothing for the forgotten victims of Liberia. Despite the fact that a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended in 2009 that the main players in the war should be brought to justice, and that at least 250,000 people lost their lives during these bloody conflicts between 1989 and 2003.
However, on Thursday June 1, 2023, the Federal Criminal Court of Appeal in Switzerland convicted a man, Alieu Kosiah, of participating in the axe murder of the Pious Man. Jurisdiction was given in our country because Mr. Kosiah had been resident in Lausanne since the late 1990s. The conviction came exactly 30 years after the events, and was handed down in Bellinzona, seat of the Federal Criminal Court, some 7,000 kilometers from the scene of the crimes, Foya.
Alieu Kosiah had already been convicted in June 2021 by the Criminal Court for multiple acts of war crimes, including having eaten a piece of the pious man’s heart in the company of “Ugly Boy”. At the time, however, he was found not guilty of the axe-murder, the first judges considering that he had not played an active role in this crime.
The appeal judges decided otherwise and sentenced Alieu Kosiah for complicity in the murder of the pious man, an act qualified as a war crime and a crime against humanity. During the reading of the verdict, the President of the Court, Olivier Thormann, explained that, according to the Court, Alieu Kosiah had handed the pious man over to “Ugly Boy” to be taken to the Foya airstrip, knowing full well what would happen next.
This appeal judgment marks Swiss legal history, as it is the very first conviction in our country for crimes against humanity. It now opens the way for prosecutions in Switzerland for such crimes, even if committed before 2011 and the entry into force of the new provisions of the penal code.
As a lawyer and Director of Civitas Maxima, since 2014 I have represented several Liberian victims in this case alongside Me Romain Wavre, including a friend of the pious man who was present at the scene and witnessed his ordeal, having himself been a victim of ULIMO crimes.
Our clients and other victims have shown exceptional resilience, dignity and courage. Most of them came to Switzerland three times to testify throughout the proceedings, and overcame the obstacles posed by the Ebola epidemic in 2014-2015 and the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-2021 to finally obtain justice.
War crimes and crimes against humanity are unique in that they “never die”. Indeed, because they concern the international community as a whole, these offences are not extinguished by a statute of limitations after a certain number of years, as is the case for most ordinary crimes. Prosecutions for war crimes and crimes against humanity are thus theoretically possible as long as the person accused of committing them is alive and evidence exists, theoretically even if the victims are all dead. Just as the forgotten victims of Liberia obtained justice in Switzerland in 2023 for crimes committed so far away in 1993, victims of international crimes committed during current or recent armed conflicts must never lose hope. Even if we must do everything to ensure that they obtain justice before 2053 for the crimes they have suffered.
The article first appeared in French on Heidi News on the 16th of July, 2023.
On October 10 general and presidential elections will be held in Liberia. At least 20 candidates are vying for the presidency. The opposition is determined to make incumbent president George Weah, a famous soccer star turned politician, a one-term-president. The ruling CDC wants to stay in power. After all, elections in Liberia – and elsewhere on the African continent – is all about access to resources, ideologies and political vision hardly play any role.
Elections and ritualistic murders often go hand in hand in Liberia (also elsewhere on the continent). Reportedly there was a surge in ritual killings in this West African country in recent years. Recently, people in Montserrado County, the seat of the government and the country’s capital Monrovia, told President Weah that no ritual, human sacrifice or money can prevent his loss and that of the ruling CDC in the ensuing elections.
Of course, such a public outcry is no proof or indication of any real or suspected involvement of an ambitious politician, named or unnamed, or of the ruling coalition or the fragmented opposition in criminal acts such as ritual murders. However, the hidden message is noteworthy.
That’s why I consider it worthwhile to include it here. (webmaster FVDK)
No ritual & money can help CDC
Published: August 26, 2023 By: Lincoln G. Peters – The New Dawn, Liberia
Several residents of Montserrado County have told incumbent President George Manneh Weah that no amount of alleged human sacrifice, ritual, and money can prevent him and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) from leaving office.
“We want to tell President Weah that no amount of human sacrifice, ritual, and money can help in this election,” potential voters said in Montsrrado County.
They were responding to President Weah’s urge for his supporters to consider the tragic motor accident that killed some of his supporters last week and then give him a resounding one-round victory this October.
But some Liberians in Montserrado have criticized Mr. Weah’s statement, describing it as completely heartless and worthless.
” We listen to the President telling his supporters to not allow the death of the Daughters of Weah to go in vain. President Weah urged them to use the death for a resounding one-round victory for him and CDC,” the citizens said.
“We are aware that he used the death of those people to remain in power. But let them be informed that it will not work because God is not sleeping,” they noted.
On Wednesday, 23 August 2023, President Weah and his party held a program to mourn the death of some members of the Daughters of Weah who were involved in an accident while en route to Gbarnga, Bong County for a political campaign.
During the mourning, President Weah urged supporters of the CDC not to allow the death of their partisans to go in vain.
Mr. Weah urged CDCians to ensure that the deaths of the Daughters of Weah be repaid with a resounding one-round victory.
“I want to urge every one of you here today, don’t allow the blood and death of those that died in the accident go in vain,” said Mr. Weah.
“We [want] you to ensure that this be repaid with a resounding one-round victory. We have to make sure that we pay for the death of those that died by giving me, CDC one-round victory, ” President Weah stated.
In response Thursday, 24 August 2023, one of those interviewed, Mr. Jeremiah Doe, a resident of Logan Town Community, said President Weah is daydreaming.
Mr. Doe said Liberians have resolved to democratically remove President Weah, claiming that no amount of human sacrifice, rituals, and money spent by President Weah and the entire CDC can help them to remain in power.
” We are aware that President Weah and the CDC sacrificed those girls. But what I want to say is that President Weah is daydreaming because he can never be elected again,” Mr. Doe alleged.
“This President has failed us and the only way to prevent this is to stop him from being re-elected,” he noted.
Msombuluko Mantimakhulu and two teenagers who are allegedly his cousins were arrested by police and soldiers and accused of involvement in the disappearance of Mantimakhulu’s sster-in-law. Relatives accused Mantimakhulu of ritually murdering his sister-in-law, using her body parts for ‘muti’ purposes. It’s election time in Swaziland, hence people fear ‘muti murders’ by ambitious politicians who sometimes hire other people to do the dirty work.
After all, recently, “(…) his Majesty the King (…)warned against ritual killings. He said now that it was elections time, there were people who believed that if they used human body parts, they would be successful. The King warned that such should stop and gave an example that it appeared the people who performed rituals sometimes targeted people with albinism people. He said the ritual killers believed that a person who had albinism would bring luck. His Majesty then said this was not true and that such should not be practiced.”
Msombuluko Mantimakhulu and the two teenagers were heavily beaten and tortured. The soldiers tried to extract a confession. It all happened last month. It’s a frightening story about the abuse of power by law enforcement officiers. It turned out later, that Mantimakhulu’s sister-in-law was alive and had gone to stay with her relatives.
It is not known what happened to those who were responsible for torturing Msombuluko Mantimakhulu and the two teenagers. The rule of law in the kingdom of King Mswati III leaves a lot to be desired…. (FVDK)
Swaziland / Eswatini: Soldiers torture man accused of ritual murder
Published: August 5, 2023 By: Joseph Zulu – Times of Swaziland
MAFUCULA – When his sister-in-law vanished, Msombuluko Mantimakhulu had no idea that her disappearance would leave him with injuries all over his body.
Mantimakhulu, who works in South Africa (SA), had returned to his home area around Mafucula, but it is alleged that his sister-in-law then disappeared. It was gathered that her in-laws did not know where she had gone, but feared that she had been murdered. He said some of the relatives were of the view that because it was general elections time, maybe she had been kidnapped and then killed for ritual purposes. They allegedly accused him of killing his sister-in-law for body parts. Mantimakhulu said some of the family members were of the view that he was involved in her disappearance. He said he did not have a reason to kill his sister-in-law, because they were close and that he sometimes even gave her some money.
According to Mantimakhulu, trouble started when the matter was first reported to the local community police that a woman was missing. He said when the community police were called, they picked up two teenagers who are said to be Mantimakhulu’s cousins. Mantimakhulu alleged the community police members assaulted the two teenagers, so as to force a confession from them. He alleged they beat the children then also handcuffed them to keep them from running away. “It is not right to handcuff children,” he said. The children are alleged to have been tortured for over an hour, demanding that they reveal who killed the woman.
When Mantimakhulu was asked why the teenagers were accused of killing the woman, he said he did not understand why but that he was the target. He said they wanted to force the children to confess that he was the one who had killed his sister-in-law. He said as if the assault was not enough, the men allegedly took the children to a nearby pond where they were assaulted. Mantimakhulu said the community police members then allegedly dipped the children’s into the pond and threatened that they would drown them.
Mantimakhulu alleged that the children’s heads were held under the water and threatened that they would be drowned if they did not reveal who killed the woman who was missing. He purported that after realising that they were not getting any answers from the children being assaulted, the police from Tshaneni Police Post were called in. He said police officers also arrived to investigate the disappearance of his sister-in-law, whom at the time, it was alleged she had been murdered.
He alleged that after he was suspected of having killed his sister- in-law, the matter was then reported to the police. Mantimakhulu said police officers from Tshaneni were called, and that they went to interview him over the allegedly missing woman. However, unlike the community police members, the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) officers are said to have refused to arrest Mantimakhulu and then left, leaving him at the homestead in Mafucula, around a place known as Duma.
Mantimakhulu then said after some of the family members noticed that the police officers had left without arresting him, they then decided to call some soldiers who are said to be based around Maphiveni near Simunye. It is alleged that about four soldiers then pounced on Mantimakhulu on July 27, 2023, at around noon. Mantimakhulu said when the soldiers arrived, he told them that the police officers had already spoken to him and that they left him behind because they did not believe that he had murdered his sister-in-law.
However, the soldiers are said to have responded that they were not like police officers. He said the soldiers told him that police officers do not want to work. Mantimakhulu said before they began assaulting him, they told him that by the time they left, they would make sure that he revealed how he allegedly killed his sister-in-law. “I told them I am not a killer, but they did not want to hear my side of the story,” said Mantimakhulu. Mantimakhulu said the soldiers then began to assault him and that they hit him all over his body. He alleged that he was kicked, and then forced to confess that he had killed his sister-in-law. “I refused to agree to something I did not do,” he said. He mentioned that he was punched, kicked with boots and blunt objects, but he could not tell what they were using to assault him.
He said he was then taken to a nearby lake, where he was allegedly submerged into the water so that he did not come up, out of the water. “I felt like I was drowning,” he said. He said one soldier who pressed against his body with foot while another would press against his head while being held under the water. Mantimakhulu said the soldiers continued assaulting him for several hours. He said no matter how many times he cried for them to stop, they continued assaulting him until they stopped when they realised that he had not killed anyone.
He also revealed that before they began to assault him, they warned some of the nearby residents against taking videos of the alleged assault. antimakhulu said they used vulgar language, as they assaulted him, demanding that he should reveal what he did to his sister-in-law. It turned out later, that the woman was alive and had gone to stay with her relatives. Mantimakhulu said his sister-in-law had left without telling anyone because there were some disputes at their home. He was also asked why some of the family members suspected that he had killed her. He said he did not know the reason but that it could be that they found some fencing material belonging to her in his house. He said maybe with this information, they could have concluded that he had killed her and taken some of her fencing material.
“I have no reason to kill the woman,” he said. Sipho Mngomezulu, an uncle to Mantimakhulu said he was shocked at the manner in which his nephew was treated. He alleged the soldiers beat him as if they were killing him. Mngomezulu also alleged that the matter was reported to the police but that they had not taken any action to arrest the soldiers. Meanwhile, Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati, speaking through Inspector Mazwi Ndzimandze said the assault had not been reported to the police at Tshaneni. Also, Ndzimandze said there was also no case of a woman reported to have gone missing, but was later found alive.
Mantimakhulu, when told that the police said they were not aware of his assault, said this was not true. He said instead they allegedly told him they would not be able to arrest the soldiers. Mantimakhulu said the police told him that soldiers always protected each other and they would not handover their colleagues to be arrested by the police. Lieutenant Tengetile Khumalo, the Public Relations Officer for the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) was called regarding the alleged assault by the soldiers who are based at the Maphiveni unction, leading to Tshanenini, Simunye or Lomahahsa. She had not responded to the questions sent to her at the time of compiling the report.
Khumalo was also asked if there was any means members of the public in such circumstances could report if they were not treated fairly. Noteworthy, Mantimakhulu insisted that both matters had been reported to the police and that officers from Tshaneni Police Station even interviewed him about his sister-in-law when it had been alleged that she was nowhere to be found, that she may have been killed.
Meanwhile, his Majesty the King, in his speech during the Correctional Day and Pass-out Parade warned against ritual killings. He said now that it was elections time, there were people who believed that if they used human body parts, they would be successful. The King warned that such should stop and gave an example that it appeared the people who performed rituals sometimes targeted people with albinism people. He said the ritual killers believed that a person who had albinism would bring luck. His Majesty then said this was not true and that such should not be practiced.
King Mswati III has warned the nation against ritual murders committed by those who hope to be elected into parliament. He added that the disappearance of the elderly, children and people with albinism must stop. King Mswati III said this during the 15th Correctional Services Day.
Swaziland / eSwatini: King Mswati III warns against ritual murders
Published: August 6, 2023 By: Sifiso Nhlabatsi – Eswatini Observer
His Majesty King Mswati III has warned the nation against ritual murders committed by those who hope to be elected into parliament.
He said now that elections were underway, the disappearance of the elderly children and people with albinism must stop, as there were people who kill others with the hope that they would have luck in winning political positions.
His Majesty said this during the 15th Correctional Services Day, which also marked the passing-out parade of 372 trainees.
He warned that those committing such atrocities would face the full wrath of the law and end up being guests of the correctional services.
“People cannot get into parliament by killing others,” His Majesty stated. He urged the public to make sure that they work with law enforcement agencies to curb this practice. He added that there was a need to address this cancer because it affected the core fabric of society. “We must live in harmony with each other.
“The violence against women and children is a cause for concern. We implore the correctional services to fully rehabilitate such offenders to reduce the chances of them relapsing into the same behaviour of crime and this goes well with today’s theme,” His Majesty stated.
When addressing the issue of inmates and elections, His Majesty said given that offenders were an integral part of society, they will return to their respective communities after completing their sentences.
He said it was in this vein that offenders were also allowed to register for the national elections, so that they can exercise their democratic right to vote for their preferred candidates to represent them in parliament.
The King said rehabilitation of offenders was a societal responsibility where the nation and the Correctional Services were expected to work hand in hand with society in ensuring that recidivism was eradicated completely.
“This process will ensure the safety of the public from criminal elements and also give an opportunity to offenders to build their characters and correct their criminal behaviour to regain the trust of their communities,” the King stated.
Stay true to oath, do not be misled – King orders
The new recruits who passed-out yesterday have been strongly warned by His Majesty King Mswati III to maintain integrity and core values as they go about their duties and refrain from behaviour that will put the Correctional services badge into disrepute.
His Majesty said the theme for the day was ‘ensuring a corrections dispensation responsive to inherent emerging socio-security challenges’.
He said to live up to this theme, it was important that the Correctional Services personnel were well equipped to respond to the day-to-day challenges.
“There is more that you must learn from officers on the ground and ahead of you, who have acquired experience over the years,” His Majesty stated.
He said the nation noted and commended these officers for their selfless contribution and patriotic service whenever they were called upon to provide services as part of the security cluster in the country. He said government was also impressed with the commitment and dedication they always displayed when assigned to national duties.
“Correctional officers, your contribution in maintaining peace and stability in the country is appreciated,” he said.
He said the oath of service, discipline and loyalty should be the officers’ driving force. He said they needed to make good choices about life and avoid any misleading voices full of deceit. The officers were warned that they should be guided by the oath of service throughout their career, whether on-duty or them 24/7.
He said professionalism and integrity were the virtues of a good officer, which must be maintained at all times to improve the image of the department and the public perception about the officers’ work. “I commend the Correctional Services for extending various services and support to the nation.
We have heard that Emaswati are receiving professional health services from your health facilities,” His Majesty stated. He said this gesture was highly appreciated because it was in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which called for healthcare services to be in close proximity to the people.
He said such help was essential because a healthy nation is highly productive. “Furthermore, many Emaswati have benefited immensely from the various trades that you offer to the members of the public,” he said.
Referring to my posting yesterday, focusing on King Mswati’s (prudent) condemnation of the increase in ritualistic murders in his kingdom where elections will be held later this year, I am now adding similar remarks made by Deputy National Commissioner of Police, Shadrack Simelane, during a Crime Prevention campaign held in Hlatikulu town last Wednesday.
It is interesting to note that the Deputy National Commissioner condemned the ritual murders usually associated with the elections due to ill-conceived beliefs and practices (among other issues). (FVDK).
Nation urged te respect human life – Deputy National Commissioner of Police Shadrack Simelane
Published: August 6, 2023 By: Swaziland Observer
Emaswati seem to have lost the sanctity and respect of human life as more lives continue to be lost through acts of violence.
These were sentiments of Deputy National Commissioner – Shadrack Simelane, during a Crime Prevention campaign held in Hlatikulu town last Wednesday. Simelane who was representing the national commissioner of police, said crimes like murder were on the rise and it is a cause for concern.
He noted that Hlatikulu was a small area and statistics of violent crimes such as murder were alarming. Statistics indicate that between January 2022 and June 2023 at least 17 cases of murder have been recorded while 18 attempted murder incidents were investigated.
Simelane said, “It should be our collective resolve to strive for tolerance and confidence in the power of dialogue whenever a dispute arises.” He cautioned against the tendency of taking the law into one’s hands as it was not a solution but, only served as a path towards self-destruction and irreparable harm. He condemned the issue of ritual murders usually associated with the elections due to ill-conceived beliefs and practices.
Disorder The deputy national commissioner stated that crime, road carnage and social disorder problems are a threat in the country as they continue causing fear in the community. It does not only affect the quality of life among the nation, but also threatens the success and sustainability of socio-economic environment in the country.
He further stated that the police service has noted with concern an upward trend in certain crimes around Hlatikulu and surrounding areas which are posing a challenge and causing sleepless nights to the organisation.
Simelane noted that gender-based violence crimes continue to be a thorny issue as it reported with high frequency, both in urban and rural communities. He urged members of cthe public to report such criminal activity as it has severe implications on the survivors.
Between January last year and June 2023, in Hlatikulu and surrounding areas at least 82 rape cases were reported to the police. He said in such cases community and family participation is critical as the police cannot make headway without their support. He discouraged the notion of ‘tibi tendlu’ as this was a breeding ground for GBV cases.
The deputy national commissioner also expressed concern on the number of accidents that have occurred along the Yithi Abantu Highway. He stated that the number of lives lost in road accidents was worrying.
Road safety stakeholders were encouraged to join hands in finding ways that will help in the reduction and elimination of these accidents. Statistics indicate that from January 2022 to June 2023, 15 fatalities have occurred along the kaMdabula and Mehlwabovu stretch, while there were 30 serious accidents reported within the same period.
Statistics indicate that a high number of victims in these accidents are pedestrians. He said it was important that all road users be extra cautions along the problematic areas of this road. He urged all road users to show respect to one another and give each other equal opportunities on the road to avoid accidents.
“Road users are reminded to always respect rules of the road and they need to apply safety measures all times to avoid being victims of accidents” said Simelane.
The deputy national commissioner further encouraged community members to establish neighbourhood watch schemes to bring crime under control within the community. He advised all residents to practices honest-citizen habits, which involve desisting from buying/dealing in stolen property but, rather report those selling items suspected to be stolen. He said the police service continued to introduce strategies and interventions that would contribute towards the elimination of crime in the country.
“As the police service we continue to strengthen our mechanisms in a bid to clamp down on crime. This is done through, among other, interventions intensive public sensitisation through our community safety officers, who do public capacitation in communities, schools, faith-based forums including establishing and training community police.”
Simelane commended traditional leaders for the important role that they play in the fight against crime, stating that the police service was always appreciative of the relationship it has with the community. He also expressed the organization’s appreciation to all stakeholders and sponsors who supported the Hlatikulu Crime Prevention event.
It is not the first time that election campaigns are accompanied by a rising number of ritual murders – or ‘muti murders’, as they are called in Southern Africa. Already in a previous posting, on June 19, 2018 I drew attention to the link between elections and ritual killings in this country.
Swaziland (eSwatini) has a long history of ritual murders. In the recent past, in 2003, King Mswati III urged Swaziland’s politicians not to engage in ritual killings to boost their chances in the general elections later that year. Five years later then Prime Minister Absalom Themba Dlamini warned aspiring members of parliament against committing ritual murders to win the vote. In my 2018 posting I revealed that nothing had changed for the better. For briefness sake I further refer to my 2018 posting.
When will it end? What’s the use of repeated warnings? Isn’t it a crazy situation, we’re in the third millennium, and superstition is still rife in a country where democratic elections are being organized.
However, the democratic nature of elections in eSwatini / Swaziland is not what one would expect. Past elections in the kingdom where king Mswati III rules as an absolute monarch, have been characterized by a lack of transparency whereas according to Wikipedia the full results of both the 2018 and 2013 elections have never been published. (FVDK)
Swaziland: King Mswati III frowns at rising number of ritual murders
Published: July 16, 2023 By: NKOSINGIPHILE MYENI , Swaziland Observer
His Majesty King Mswati III is disheartened by the rising number of cruel deaths occurring around the country.
Most of the deaths were those that seemed to be ritually associated as were described as the worst kind of evil.
This was shared yesterday through the King’s representative, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Prince Simelane, in one of the biggest prayer services in the country.
The national prayer for the national elections brought together church leaders from the three church mother bodies, being the Council of Swaziland Churches, Conference of Churches and the League of Churches.
There were also other Cabinet ministers, church members of different denominations as well as members of the public.
Rendering his speech, the prince shared a story in the Bible in Genesis 6 verse 6 whereby God showed His regret by creating a person and further said that He was grieving in his heart by the evil that people do.
The King said in just a short space of time spine-chilling deaths have been reported whereby he further depicted the cruelty with which the victims died.
He first referred to an incident which occurred early in the month at Nkoneni in the Shiselweni region whereby the body of a 26-year-old woman was found with multiple stab wounds, her eyes gouged out and her throat slit.
“Let me just point out to two or three of these in the country. Such cruelty Maswati! If you wonder why God is regretful about a person, again just recently, a boy went out from his home to buy goats but he was stabbed and killed.
“His throat was cut while he was alive and could feel it. They placed a tyre on him, doused him with petrol and set him alight,” he said while narrating that it was not only the events that were seen on television that showed cruelty.
He added, “The God of love saw the evil in people on earth. He saw that their hearts and thoughts were evil and regretted why he created them.
Tense This may seem like a past tense but God forever regrets why he created a person, why? because of their sins.”
The King went further and referred to another incident. He said in Malkerns just this week, another man was found dead with stab wounds as well as a slit throat.
He did not spare femicide whereby he said such cases were widely reported in the media. According to the United Nations (UN) Women, femicide is a hate crime which is broadly defined as the intentional killing of women or girls because they are female.
“In our nation we read in the newspapers that men kill women with cruelty. They kill their wives, girlfriends and have also started killing their own children. “Therefore, we are here to pray for elections so that they go smoothly,” he said.
Referring to other countries during elections, the King said violence was also rife whereby he said it was common to hear that political parties fight one another to the extent that people are shot and assassinated while others have their houses burnt.
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.”