Liberia: Maryland County student leader condemns alleged ritualistic murder, recalling similar cases

The chairman of the Student Unification Alliance (SUA) from the William V.S. Tubman University in Harper, Maryland County, Joshua D. Musu, has reacted on an alleged ritual murder case. The victim was a student, who was a resident of Pleebo Sodoken District (see my April 3 posting).

The SUA chair said such alleged ritualistic act is worrisome and scaring, and it seems to be a common practice in the county. He recalled that Maryland County has a glaring history of mysterious murder of innocent people either for theft or ritual purposes.

Last week, President George Manneh Weah imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in the entire country to enable the Joint Security conduct investigation into the reportedly murder.
(webmaster FVDK)

Student leader condemns gruesome murder in Maryland

Published: April 4, 2021
The New Dawn – Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County–Editing by Jonathan Browne 

In the wake of the gruesome murder of a student from the Pleebo High School in Pleebo City, Maryland County recently, a group of students from the Tubman University in Harper has condemned the murder.

The students under the banner Student Unification Alliance (SUA) frowned on vandalism by motorcyclists and protesters, calling for thorough investigation and prosecution of suspects.

Speaking thru a press release, the chairman of SUA Joshua D. Musu admonish all militants, cadres, solidarity forces and the student populace of the William V.S. Tubman University to remain vigilant and responsive as immoral societal issues in the country are on the increase.

Chairman Musu said they denounce very strongly the uncivilized and brutal murder of a patriot, dutiful and fallen student, who was a resident of Pleebo Sodoken District, describing that act as barbaric and unscrupulous.

He said such alleged ritualistic act is worrisome and scaring, which seems to be a common practice in the county. He recalled that Maryland County has a glaring history of MYSTERIOUS MURDER of innocent people either for theft or ritual purposes.

Musu reflected that as far back as 1999, similar incident occurred, involving one oldman Pachey-Pachey, who went missing and was later found dead with body parts allegedly abstracted. He noted that relevant authorities at the time could not bring the murderer (s) to book, and impunity prevailed over justice.

He added that the death of Pachey-Pachey was followed by the disappearance of an Immigration Officer (Alphonso Chelleh), who was also found dead alone Lake Shepherd, in Harper City, and again, the killer (s) walked with impunity, as the authorities failed to make any arrest.

He also recounted that similar to those incidents, Octavos Landford, who was a resident of the Hance Street Community, was allegedly murdered in 2004, and in spite of many calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, those behind such killing took a comfortable bath in the pool of impunity as usual.

The student leader continued that another victim, Charles Derrick, was allegedly murdered in 2019, including Bill O. Meyers, but all these cases were allegedly swept under the carpet.

“There are many of these instances in the history of this county (Maryland) that we cannot mention, as souls of Tumu Yuade Allison and many others are anguishing and calling for justice”, he lamented.

He said, regrettably, some of these instances did not even claim public attention. “To name few, we will point at the death of Karpeh Allison, a citizen of River Gee, who was residing in Harper. He was allegedly murdered at the Catholic Mission. The culprit (s) who was/were believed to have been thief (ves) remains unknown, even today.”

He noted that next was James Morias commonly called (Te’loo-way), a cassava leave grinder, who was pitifully murdered across the Hoffman River in 2016, while laboring to earn a living.

“Considering all of these instances, we are certain that the murderers are not from Pluto. They are here on earth! As such, it is the sole responsibility of the government to do everything possible to unearth doers of this pernicious and heavily wicked act. This is a new beginning! We will remain peacefully engaged with the Government of Liberia to end this societal embarrassment (MURDER)!”

The SUA chairman noted that although he condemned the wicked act, but he also frowned on the action of protesters, noting that they have exacerbated the matter through actions of vandalism. He added the protesters’ behavior was squarely misguided and inhumane, cautioning them not to arrogate Justice as they are historically aware that justice delay in these instances usually ends murder cases without justice being served.

“We would further like to caution Government of Liberia to carefully and gently handle this situation before it escalates and get beyond control. In our view, keeping mute on trending ritualistic issues will not aid the process, but intensify the situation, since protesters are already aggrieved.”

Last Tuesday, protesters went wild in Pleebo and Harper cities burning prison compound and home Speaker Bhofal Chambers, the second biggest protest in Maryland County since January 2019, when the body of Bill Myers, a 24-year-old motorcyclist was discovered along the Harper-Little Wrebo highway. The incident led to the destruction of the Harper Police Station as well as barricading campuses of the William V. S. Tubman University.

Despite calls for calm by Speaker Bhofal Chambers, Senator Joe Gble-bo Brown and local authorities, tension mounted in the county with protesters vowing not to leave the streets until their demand is met.

Several gadgets belonging to local journalists were seized by the protesters who earlier warned reporters against taking photos and streaming videos during the demonstration However, President George Manneh Weah on Wednesday imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in the entire country to calm the violence to enable the Joint Security conduct investigation into the reportedly murder.

Source: Student leader condemns gruesome murder in Maryland

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

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

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

Curfew imposed in Liberia as inmates escape prison amid violent protests

Police trying to contain the unrest – Photo: AFP 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related news:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Unlawful and totally Unacceptable’

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

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

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

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

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

Another background article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Ritualistic Killings Spark Mob Action in Maryland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Liberia’s elections, ritual killings and cannibalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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