Liberia: Key Massaquoi Ally Says Finnish Court Got it Wrong

About ritual murder during Liberia’s civil wars.
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Liberia: Key Massaquoi Ally Says Finnish Court Got it Wrong

Published: May 17, 2022
By: FrontPage Africa – FPA Exclusive by Anthony Stephens with New Narratives

MONROVIA – A key former ally of Gibril Massaquoi, the Revolutionary United Front commander, says a Finnish District Court got it wrong when it acquitted Massaquoi of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Liberia.

Joseph Marzah, commonly known as “Zizar Marzah”, was a fierce general with then-president Charles Taylor’s forces in the period Finnish prosecutors alleged Massaquoi conducted his crimes during a trial that lasted more than a year. Marzah was a key figure, accused repeatedly by witnesses of atrocities allegedly committed with Massaquoi in Lofa County. In an exclusive interview with New Narratives last week at his residence along the Monrovia-Robertsfield highway, Marzah insisted Massaquoi was among the RUF troops Taylor sent to Liberia to help defend his government against the uprising by the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebel group that would eventually drive Taylor to resign in August 2003.

In an 850-page ruling, the Finnish judges found there was “reasonable doubt” as to whether Massaquoi, who denied the charges, was in Liberia when the alleged crimes took place. They acquitted Massaquoi of all charges. Prosecutors plan to appeal.

“Gibril Massaquoi fully took part in war here,” Marzah said listing the Lofa towns he was with Massaquoi. “He passed through the towns of Zorzor, Fessibu and Vasala.”

Marzah said Massaquoi was decorated with the rank of Captain at Taylor’s direction because of his strong performance on the frontlines of battle.

“Gibril Massquoi was assigned to me. When we sent him for our logistics like arms and ammunition, he went for them and brought them to us,” said Marzah. “Where there was intense fighting, he joined us to fight. In 2001 and 2002, he was with us, and we battled LURD in Chicken Soup Factory, Double Bridge, ELWA and Shefflin.”

Marzah’s claims back the allegations put forward by Finnish prosecutors that Massaquoi had been active in Liberia’s second civil war between 1999 and 2003. The indictment alleged Massaquoi committed rape, torture, ritual murder, torture and recruitment of child soldiers in villages in Lofa County in the years 2000-2002.

In the most shocking crime heard during trial, Liberian witnesses testified that dozens of women and children were forced into a kitchen building that was set alight, burning them to death.

Marzah, no doubt mindful of his own risk of prosecution, did not concede that he and Massaquoi committed any crimes. But he insisted Massaquoi was with him, as many had witnesses testified, in Lofa during the 2001-2002 period.

“If Gibril Massaquoi denies that he was with me, NPFL, I would like for us to sit face-to-face (in court) so that I can question him like the scenario between Taylor and I. I fear nothing.”

However, Marzah cast doubt on the most contentious prosecution accusation: that Massaquoi escaped a UN-backed safehouse in Freetown between June and August 2003 to fight for Taylor in the Waterside area of Monrovia. 

“In 2003, I only heard that he came (from Sierra Leone) and went back. I was assigned to Grand Cape Mount County at the time.”

Marzah claimed Massaquoi escaped Liberia in 2002 after he stole from Taylor.

“After we had made two trips (with two jars of diamonds) along with the logistics to Taylor, he left us because he ran away with the third jar of diamonds,” said Marzah. “When the order came that if we saw Gibril Massaquoi, we should execute him because of the diamonds he stole and ran away with, I didn’t see him then.”

Massaquoi’s Lawyer, Kaarle Gummerus denied commenting on Marzah’s allegations, telling this reporter in a WhatsApp message “the defense does not feel the need to comment on Mr. Marzah’s allegations”.

Marzah said he was approached by representatives of the Finnish investigators in the case and was willing to testify. He did not say why he was not called to give evidence.

In a WhatsApp message Tom Laitienen, the Chief Prosecutor for the case said “We considered Marzah as a witness, but practical issues hindered us from hearing him. We will most likely consider him again if he agrees to testify.”

When pressed as to what the practical issues may have been Laitinen said “unfortunately, I cannot discuss them in detail, but they include his possible role in the suspected crimes and his role as a witness to the Special Court.”

It is not clear that Marzah’s testimony would have made a difference in the verdict. The court found many of the witnesses, including those who claimed to be ex-soldiers of Charles Taylor’s army, were unreliable. It said they had provided contradictory and inconsistent statements between the investigation and the trial. The court found it likely they had been influenced to a degree.

“The witnesses’ accounts have been very similar in some respects, and in some respects they have changed in court in the same way compared to the pre-trial phase,” said the ruling. “This has been the case in particular with regard to the time of the events. This suggests a kind of collective processing of the facts on the basis of which the witnesses formed their perceptions, or at least external influences. In some respects it has been difficult to distinguish between what was based on the witness’s own observations and what was otherwise based on information obtained by the witness. These factors undermine the reliability and relevance of individual reports as evidence.”

While the court was persuaded that Massaquoi, whose testimony played a key role in the conviction of Taylor and a dozen top rebel leaders in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, held very high rank in the RUF, it was not convinced he committed war crimes in Liberia.

The Court’s ruling was almost entirely about inconsistencies in the witnesses’ testimonies. It cited as examples, where some of the witnesses were not exact about key dates and names of individuals who may have carried out crimes. In one instance, witnesses accused Massaquoi of being responsible for mass killings in Kamatahun, Lofa County. In another instance, they attributed the crimes to Marzah.

“It has emerged from several witness accounts that “Zig Zag” Marzah or “Stanley” [another Taylor commander] had been responsible for the burning of people in the Lofa area, especially in Kamatahun.”  

Marzah Denies Allegations

Marzah, now 64 and living in a remote part of his native Nimba County, denies he committed any atrocities.

He claimed to have provided safety for members of the Gbandi tribe, who were allegedly burnt alive in buildings, because, he claimed, his wife was a Gbandi woman. Marzah denied he was in the town when the alleged killings took place.

“It was Benjamin Yeaten [another top Taylor commander known as “Chief 50”] who sent Brigadier General Gourtor, [known as “Idi Amin” after the late Ugandan President], “Butu Lazen” and the late “Busy Boy”. They went to Kamatahun Hassala to carry out those executions,” Marzah alleged.

Yeaten, whose whereabouts are unknown, was mentioned many times by witnesses. They told the court Yeaten was very close to Taylor and coordinated the operations of government and RUF forces. Taylor, who is currently serving a 50-year sentence in a British jail for aiding and abetting Sierra Leone’s civil war, funded the operations of the RUF by giving them arms and ammunitions in exchange for diamonds according to the Special Court. 

Marzah said there were times that both RUF and Taylor’s forces backed up each other, depending on the scale of the attacks they experienced from opponents.

Special Court former Trial Attorney Backs Marzah’s Comments

Marzah’s comments were backed up by Chris Santora, a former Trial Attorney for the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and on the Taylor trial.

“Whoever really understands well the history of the links between Charles Taylor and the RUF trial knows that top RUF commanders were often in Liberia interacting at many levels with Benjamin Yeaten and Charles Taylor throughout 2000 and 2001,” said Santora.

“The reasons were many not least of which was Taylor’s use of the RUF in his own war in Liberia but also this was when the diamond pipeline was at its peak as the RUF had firm control of the diamond areas of Kono. Many of these RUF commanders including Massaquoi were back and forth frequently through 2001 as they were running diamonds. (sometimes their own side deals others through Taylor) The finding of the Finish District Court which says that Gibril Massaquoi was not anymore traveling at all to Liberia after June 2001 does not accord with the overwhelming evidence I myself have seen. It doesn’t make sense in the larger context of events at that time period,” said Santora.

Marzah Supports a War Crimes Court for Liberia

Once considered a Taylor trusted general, Marzah, dismissed allegations that he betrayed his former boss. But he said he did oppose Taylor by the end. He was  “killing our people slowly,” Marzah said. He blamed Taylor for the murders of a long list of individuals, including Enoch Dogolea, Taylor’s first Vice President and Samuel Dokie, a leading opposition politician with the Unity Party at the time.

Marzah is ranked 66th on a list of 100 most notorious perpetrators recommended for prosecution for gross human rights violations by Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But in the interview he expressed support for a war crimes court and said he was willing to appear.

“I prefer it to be in Liberia,” he said. “There are some wicked people. Some did nothing, some went in the government because they have connections. Some carried out destruction. So, it’s better for the war crimes court to come to sifter all of us. I am willing for it to come. That’s the time we all will explain everything in detail.”

Prosecutors will file a motion to appeal the District Court’s acquittal in coming weeks.

This story was produced in collaboration with New Narratives as part of its West Africa Justice Reporting Project.

Source: Liberia: Key Massaquoi Ally Says Finnish Court Got it Wrong

Liberia: man found dead “with body parts missing” in Grand Kru County

Warning: graphic image

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Liberia: Gruesome Murder in Grand Kru County

Published: May 3, 2022
By: Leroy M. Sonpon, III – Daily Observer

A man in his late 20s, named Worteh Koffa, has been found dead “with body parts missing” in Grand Kru County. 

The deceased, according to a 15-man coroner jury in Grand Kru County died as a result of ritualistic killing.  The coroner jury reported that the late Worteh’s eyes, tongue, fingers and toenails, and other body parts were missing upon discovery of his body in early April  2022 on the beach in Grandcess City, Grand Kru County District #1.

Worteh’s death comes just a year after a 23-years old motorcyclist named Mordecail Nyemah for ritualistic purposes in Maryland County, which is a southeastern county like Grand Kru. The deceased was discovered dead with his right eye plugged, and right fingers cut off in Pleebo during the morning hours of March 25, 2021, and it triggered a wave of violent riot both in Pleebo and the Maryland County’s capital, Harper.

Suspect Moses Mlamah said in a video interview that he was sent by a man identified as Daniel Wesseh to get blood for reasons and was paid to do so. He added that he enlisted the help of two others to carry out the act. The issue about ritualistic killings in the southeast is not anything strange with Maryland County seeing a  series of ritualistic murders that occurred around Harper, in the 1970s.

Between 1965 and 1977 over 100 murders occurred in Maryland County, many of which were considered ritualistic due to the mutilation and removal of body parts. During the 1970s, Liberians in Maryland County were constantly under the threat of ritual murders. Between November 1976 and July 1977, 14 people had disappeared in the county prompting Liberian president William Tolbert to fire Superintendent of Maryland County, James Daniel Anderson, who failed to report the missing people. Tolbert publicly declared “Anyone who kills deliberately: The law will kill that person.”

These murders went unreported and uninvestigated until the murder of a local fisherman and popular singer, Moses Tweh. Tweh was abducted on June 26, 1977. His body was discovered on July 4, 1977, heavily mutilated with his eyes, ears, nose, tongue and penis removed. Prior to the discovery of Tweh’s body, Wreh Taryonnoh, the girlfriend of Assistant Supervisor of Schools, Francis Nyepan, was allegedly heard by a group searching for Tweh saying that “if they would be so lucky to find him, only his bones they might see”. This sparked the arrest of 12 people, a majority of whom were government officials.

During the first Harper Trial, Joshua Brown and Teah Toby were released and later became state witnesses. The other ten defendants were found guilty and sentenced to public execution by hanging. Tagbedi Wisseh appealed his conviction and was pardoned by Tolbert before execution. Wonplu Boye and Koti Weah both died before execution, it was rumored their own family members poisoned them to avoid shame.

On 16 February 1979, the seven remaining people convicted of Moses Tweh’s murder were publicly hanged at dawn in Harper. The media dubbed them the “Harper Seven” The crimes back then were regarded as “Liberia’s most notorious ritual killing case” due to the number of murders, the involvement of high ranking government officials and their subsequent public executions.

Meanwhile, up to press time, the Liberian National Police Detachment in Grand Kru County is still tightlipped on the investigation of Worteh’s death.

Worteh’s mother has therefore called on the government to probe the mysterious death of her son as “her family remains peaceful and awaits the outcome of any investigation.   His death has caused fear among youths in the county and there appears to be a self-imposed curfew among residents of the area, fearing for their own safety.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker and Acting Chairman of the Grand Kru County Legislative Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, on has condemned the gruesome and ritualistic murder of Worteh Koffa and called on the Minister of Justice to put more resources into the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.

On his Facebook page, the Grand Kru County District #2 lawmaker noted that: “We condemn in the strongest terms the gruesome and ritualistic murder of young Worteh Koffa. I have placed a call to the Minister of Justice to put more resources in the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.”

Cllr. Koffa added: “The age-old practice of ritualistic killings, for whatever purpose, must end. I call on the peaceful citizens of Grandcess to remain calm and law-abiding and assist in the investigation. No young person should have his promising life taken away by nefarious and heartless creatures. I call for a swift and speedy investigation.”

Source: Liberia: Gruesome Murder in Grand Kru County

Liberia war crimes: Sierra Leone rebel commander acquitted of rape, ritual murder and the recruitment of child soldiers  

Gibril Massaquoi is a former commander of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a notorious rebel group in Sierra Leone responsible for a long list of atrocities, human rights violations and war crimes. Massaquoi is a Sierra Leonian national and was arrested in Finland in March 2020; accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Liberia.

Gibril Massaquoi played an important role – as a key-witness – during the trial of warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor who was found guilty of war crimes and human rights violations in Sierra Leone and sentenced to 50 years in prison by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).

For briefness sake I refer to the following site for more background information on this person: Liberia: Past and Present of Africa’s Oldest Republic, click here.

Highly recommended reading is also Justice Info Net, in particular Thierry Cruvelliers’ contribution: THE MASSAQUOI AFFAIR: SPECIAL REPORT ON THE JUDAS OF SIERRA LEONE (PART 1 and PART 2).

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Liberia war crimes: Sierra Leone rebel commander acquitted by court in Finland

Published: April 29, 2022
By: BBC

Gibril Ealoghima Massaquoi denies murders, rape and recruiting child soldiers

A court in Finland has acquitted a rebel commander of rape, ritual murder and the recruitment of child soldiers during Liberia’s civil war.

The court said there was not enough proof to convict Gibril Massaquoi. 

The 52-year-old is from Sierra Leone and was a senior member of a notorious rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), that also fought in neighbouring Liberia from 1999 to 2003.

He had moved to Finland in 2008 and was arrested two years ago.

Mr Massaquoi was a school teacher when Sierra Leone’s civil war began in 1991. He joined the RUF, quickly rising through the ranks to become spokesman of the group which was notorious for atrocities such as hacking off the limbs of civilians, as well as murder and rape.

But he then gave evidence to the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone set up to investigate war crimes committed in that conflict.

He was relocated to Finland as part of a witness protection programme, which provided immunity for crimes committed in Sierra Leone, but not Liberia.

Prosecutors alleged that in Liberia, Mr Massaquoi had ordered buildings with people locked inside to be torched, and described the widespread rape and murder of civilians, often by enslaved child soldiers.

The ex-rebel said he was not in Liberia at the time.

The Finnish court had decamped to the Liberian capital, Monrovia, for a while to hear local testimony.

Around 250,000 people were killed during the internal conflicts that ended in 2003.

This was the first prosecution over Liberia’s civil war to be partially held in the country, although Mr Massaquoi remained in Finland.

Screenshot – Miatta, former child soldier in Liberia: “I know I killed people”
To watch the video, please click on the link mentioned below (under ‘Source’)

Former Liberian President Taylor was convicted by an international criminal court in 2012 of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but that was in connection with the conflict in Sierra Leone. He is serving his 50-year sentence in a prison in the UK.

His son “Chuckie” Taylor was sentenced to 97 years in prison in a US federal court in 2009 for torturing and killing people while he was the head of Liberia’s anti-terrorist services.

Ex-warlord Mohammed “Jungle Jabbah” Jabateh has been jailed for 30 years in the US for lying about his past as a leader of a force that carried out multiple murders and acts of cannibalism.

And Alieu Kosiah was last year convicted of war crimes in Switzerland.

Source: Liberia war crimes: Sierra Leone rebel commander acquitted by court in Finland

Liberia: Man missing from ‘Prayer Band’ found dead in river with parts allegedly extracted

Another mysterious death in Liberia, another murder and, after the lifeless body of the missing man, Joseph Blama, was found, rumors started spreading that body parts had been extracted – feeding the suspicion of a ritualistic murder. The victim’s widow, Madam Asatu Blama, confirmed to reporters that the lifeless body found was her husband, adding that parts were allegedly extracted.

A major suspect in the mysterious disappearance of Joseph Blama, Madam Martha Doe, who is a popular prayer warrior in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County had been arrested, together with 12 others. In a remarkable development, all suspects had been released after an intervention by a prominent politician, Grand Bassa Senator Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence.

Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence confirmed that Prayer Mother Madam Doe and the other 12 arrested suspects had been released after consultation with Justice Minister Musah F. Deah.

It is obvious that the separation of powers (‘Trias politica’) in Liberia is not being respected. Legislators should not intervene in the judiciary. However, as my late friend Tom Kamara would have said in these circumstances: “This, Too, Is Liberia”.
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Liberia: Man Missing from ‘Prayer Band’ Found Dead in River

The deceased, Jospeh Blama

Published: April 19, 2022
By: Elton Wroinbee Tiah, Grand Bassa County Correspondent – Daily Observer

… Parts Allegedly Extracted 

The lifeless body of 45-year-old Joseph Blama, who went missing for several days following a quest for deliverance from a popular Prayer Warrior, Martha Doe, has been discovered with parts allegedly extracted.

The lifeless body of Blama was discovered in Dwehn’s Town on the St. John River, Grand Bassa County. Blama went missing on March 25, in St. John City, Grand Bassa County after 25 members of Madam Martha Doe’s prayer band gathered for prayer. 

The popular prayer warrior Martha Doe, who resides in Buchanan, invited Blama to her Prayer Band in St. John City, in the name of deliverance to enable him to get a job. Blama’s widow, Madam Asatu Blama, confirmed to reporters that the lifeless body was her husband, adding that parts were allegedly extracted.

The cause of death is yet unknown as she reportedly indicated that, after more than a month of searching, her husband is dead without any explanation. It can be recalled that Madam Martha Doe and 12 others were jailed by the Liberian National Police for more than four days before the lifeless body of Joseph Blama was discovered.

Madam Doe, who is a popular prayer warrior in Buchanan and a major suspect in the mysterious disappearance of Joseph Blama, was released from jail along with 12 others on the alleged orders of Senator Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence. Upon her release, she told reporters early Friday morning: “We all prayed and went to sleep, but later we heard a sound like people breaking into the place.”

Madam Doe regretted that Joseph Blama could not be seen, adding that she immediately informed the police and the St. John City Mayor James E. Brooks. “Soon as I told Mayor James Brooks, he told me to tell the police that the man was a criminal and I said no, I brought him to this prayer band.”

Madam has expressed sadness over the mysterious death of the man who came to her for prayers, but linked the Mayor of St. John City to the mysterious death. 

However, Mayor James E. Brooks in an interview with reporters admitted that the incident occurred in his municipality. Brooks admitted to reporters that he and Madam Martha Doe interacted, but clarified that he told her to say it’s a criminal attitude after the incident occurred.

Before Blama was discovered, the Crime Services Division of the Liberia National Police Bassa detachment found the phones, and white underwear, believed to be the property of the deceased, in a bush a distance away from where the prayer band was held.

Meanwhile, Grand Bassa Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence told our reporter that the Prayer Warrior and 12-others were released based on consultation with the Justice Minister.

“Madam Doe and 12 others were jailed for four days without being charged and so I contacted the Justice Minister and he alluded to the fact that, once the man was still missing, they could not have charged the alleged suspects,” Senator Karnga-Lawrence said.

“I immediately spoke with the wife of the missing man before calling the police to release those behind bars.”

Senator Karnga-Lawrence mentioned that Prayer Warrior Doe and 12-others were instructed to report to the police headquarters daily, which they did until the body was recently discovered. However, the Senator confirmed that the Blama’s widow was invited to her house in Buchanan and they talked.

Expressing regret over the mysterious death of Joseph Blama, she said that she has “been speaking with the widow. Now that the missing man is dead, I will meet the wife again to ensure that proper investigation is conducted into the mysterious death.”

Source: Liberia: Man Missing from ‘Prayer Band’ Found Dead in River

More:

Liberia: Man, 45, Goes Missing after Prayer Meeting in Grand Bassa

Joseph Blama, 45, was last seen at a prayer service hosted by Madam Martha Doe. 

Published: April 4, 2022
By: Elton Wroinbee Tiah and Guest contributor – Daily Observer

A 45-year-old man, identified as Joseph Blama, has been reported missing for several days now, following a quest for deliverance from a popular prayer warrior in the county, Martha Doe.

The incident occurred on Friday, March 25, 2022 in St. John City, Grand Bassa County, after 25 members of Madam Doe’s prayer band gathered for prayer.

The popular Madam Doe, who resides in Buchanan, invited Blama to the prayer meeting in St. John City, to receive prayers for deliverance, to enable him to get a job.

According to Madam Doe, “The man’s wife called me and said her husband has been out of job for years and so I told them to send him so that he could be part of our prayer service.

“Early Friday morning,” she continued, “we all prayed and went to sleep but later we heard a sound like people breaking into the place.”

Madam Doe lamented that Joseph Blama was nowhere to be seen, adding that she immediately informed the police and the St. John City Mayor, James E. Brooks.

“As soon as I told the Mayor James Brooks, he told me to tell the police that the man was a criminal. I said ‘no, I brought him to this prayer band.

“We searched all over but we later discovered the man’s phones and underwear, but he himself couldn’t be found up to now,” she explained. 

However, Mayor James E. Brooks, in an interview with reporters, admitted that the incident occurred in his municipality and that he and Madam Martha Doe interacted after the man went missing. 

The Crime Services Division of the Liberia National Police Grand Bassa detachment disclosed that phones and white underwear that they believe to be the victim’s property  was found in the bush along the road that leads to the St. John river at the back of the place where the prayer service was held.

According to the police report, the missing man’s assorted belongings, including clothes and wallet that contains his national identification card, was recovered from the leader of the prayer band in the person of Madam Martha Doe.

Meanwhile, the leadership of St. John City has launched a vigorous search for the missing man and Prayer Mother Martha Doe has been jailed.

Source: Liberia: Man, 45, Goes Missing after Prayer Meeting in Grand Bassa

The barbaric act of ritual killing still present in Liberia – citizens protesting against unsolved ritual murders and rising insecurity  

As I wrote earlier, Liberia has been in the grip of a series of mysterious deaths, unexplained disappearances and confirmed cases of ritual murders since at least early 2021 – though the recent spate of killings and mysterious disappearances dates from earlier. It started in 2020 with the unexplained death of a number of tax officials, three senior employees of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and the Director General of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), who were found dead within one month. See my December 2021 posting UN human rights expert urges Liberia to probe suspected ritual killings.

Unfortunately, ritual murders in Liberia are a permanent feature of Liberia’s history and society. See the brief overview which I posted in early 2022, Sketchy overview of the most famous ritual murder cases in Liberia since the 1960s.

What can I add besides dismay and the ardent wish that these barbaric practices cease to exist? The following article demonstrates that the Liberian government continues to fail in providing protection to its citizens and maintaining the rule of law by arresting, prosecuting and sentencing the culprits of these heinous crimes (webmaster FVDK).

Living In Extreme Fear, Liberia A Country Where Citizens Are Unsafe

Published: March 28, 2022
By: FrontPage Africa, Editorial Board

LIBERIA IS FAST gaining notoriety as a country of ritualists with stories of mysterious deaths daily reported in the traditional and social media. 

THE LATEST IS THE GRUESOME murder of Princess Cooper who was discovered dead in a fence that is attached to the Fawaz building materials store at the ELWA Junction on   March 24, 2022. 

PRINCESS’ GRUESOME murder is only an addition to the harvest of deaths by ritualists in the last few weeks across Liberia. Recently, the lifeless body of a girl believed to be in her 30s was discovered in Caldwell with body parts extracted. To date, perpetrators of the dastardly act are yet to be found.

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

THE MURDER OF PRINCESS has sent shock waves to all as anybody’s child, relative or friend could be the next victim.  

CONTRARY TO THE EXPECTATIONS of compatriots after the current administration came into office, a general feeling of insecurity and helplessness is on the increase in Liberia.

FROM ARMED ROBBERIES to ritual killings, Liberians are worried that they have been given the short end of the stick. 

IN ALL OF THIS, the security forces appear to be helpless as well. The Police, especially charged with internal security virtually lie prostrate in the face of security challenges. 

INDEED, LIBERIANS no longer have the inner confidence that the country can protect lives and property and provide a climate where prosperity could spring from.

ADDED TO THIS IS THE TENSION caused by the rising cost of living, inflation, failing businesses, the abysmal rate of exchange of Liberian dollars to the United States dollars, unemployment, and a feeling of despondency are challenges we also face. 

PEOPLE ARE DISENCHANTED with the current government because of its failure to address the basic daily problems, which confront them. Uncertainty about the fate of the economy and how to face the future is also a major concern.

ENSURING GENERAL security is the main duty of government to the people. Any government, which fails to guarantee the safety of life and property is not worth its salt. 

FURTHERMORE, after criminal acts have been carried out, the Police ought to be able to fish out the culprits. Our experience has been that criminals of some dastardly crimes are hardly ever caught. Intelligence gathering has failed. Crime prevention is abysmal. Crime detection appears worse.

COUNTLESS FAMILIES have been subjected to the trauma of mysterious deaths, and the time has come for the Liberia National Police to develop a counter-measure to this menace. 

THE BARBARIC ACT of ritual killing is still present with us. Some depraved citizens still believe that offering a human being for sacrifice is a gateway to prosperity. 

REPORTS OF DISAPPEARED children or ladies are rife. Sometimes, corpses are found with missing body parts. Unlike their counterparts in other climes who pursue mysterious murder cases to a logical conclusion the Liberian Police is not known to take this task seriously. 

ONE OF THE OBLIGATIONS of power, which the people entrusted to the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government is to create and sustain an atmosphere in the polity where individual and collective security is guaranteed. 

THE PRESIDENT and his government, the Liberia National Police under the supervision of Col. Marvin Sackor should rise to the occasion and reassure all that the situation can be controlled. 

PRESIDENT WEAH should go beyond lamentation and take drastic action and must dig into the root cause of this barbaric act and approach it from there.

WHAT WE ARE seeing are symptoms rather than cause and the president should make affirmative pronouncements and take concrete actions to instill confidence in the people.

Source: Living In Extreme Fear, Liberia A Country Where Citizens Are Unsafe

And:

Liberia: Citizens Plan To Protest Against Unsolved ”Murders” and Rising Insecurity On Monday

Liberia Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean

Published: March 27, 2022
By: African Star

Monrovia, Liberia – March 27, 2022  

It now appears that unsolved murders and increasing crime in the Liberian capital over time are now triggering a citizens’ response in the form of a planned protest being organized under a trending social media hashtag #JusticeforPrincessCooper.

Late Princess Cooper – Photo courtesy of Facebook

According to our Correspondent in Monrovia, the lifeless body of a young Liberian female name Princess Cooper was found late last week in the compound of a business in Monrovia and it was the latest unexplained death. On Friday the body of a man was found in the suburb of Johnsonville. No arrests have been made. 

Police preliminary report dismissed “foul play” but say they are continuing their investigation in the death of the victim. There has, however, been a fierce backlash against the preliminary report of the police by citizens who say they are highly frustrated with the high level of crime, violence and insecurity in the county which is still recovering from back-to-back wars in the 1990s which killed an estimated 250,000 persons. 

Organizers of the impending citizens protest who posted to social media listed the names of 19 individuals and incidents of alleged murder and disappearance and crime hotspots in the capital Monrovia and are urging residents of various communities in Monrovia to gather on Monday, March 28 for the peaceful protest to highlight the rising level of insecurity in the country. 
No once has been prosecuted.

Various Liberian social media groups have blown up in the last few days with postings expressing outrage at the lack of security for citizens.

A sophomore student at the state-run University of Liberia told African Star in an interview that while she appreciated the Government’s foreign policy position of urging Russia to provide humanitarian assistance and protection for the people of Ukraine, the Weah Administration was failing to provide safety for its own citizens. “The first duty of Government is the protection and welfare of its citizens,” the Liberia college student emphasized.

African Star has not been able to authenticate the identities of the March organizers although it appears to have been organized spontaneously by concerned citizens. 

The unsolved alleged murders, ritualistic killings and disappearances are compounded by other issues including lack of reliable power and worsening sanitation problems which some international partners have cited to the embarrassment of the Government of Liberia. 

A diplomatic source in Monrovia told African Star on Saturday that the Monrovia City Government and the City Mayor appear to have lost complete control of effectively managing Monrovia. 

Recently the Inspector General Of Police Colonel Patrick Sudue tried to deflect responsibility for the dismal performance on public safety when he described the rising spate of murders and crime country as “fake stories being created by opposition politicians” to a give negative image of the country and damage government’s reputation.

Last January, the Police Inspector, however, complained that local logistical constraints, including lack of internet availability, were preventing Police from staying connected to Interpol. 

It is unclear if Liberia’s Ministry of Justice and Police are aware of the peaceful protest on Monday and whether it will be allowed, since President George M. Weah is out of the country attending a business conference considered as Expo 2020 even though it is 2022. African Star Correspondence in Dubai said it is unclear how the business meeting is dubbed as Expo 2020 in Dubai instead of 2022. President Weah in a speech in Dubai referred to the business session of the conference as Expo 2020.
Presidential Affairs Minister Nathaniel F. McGill in the office of the President is also out of the country in the United States.

Government security forces have violently cracked down on prior citizens’ peaceful protests. 

By Our Correspondent in Monrovia

African Star  

Source: Liberia: Citizens Plan To Protest Against Unsolved ”Murders” and Rising Insecurity On Monday

Liberia: Bong County protests election year ritual killings (2017 article)

A few days ago, on January 19, I published a post ‘Sketchy overview of the most famous ritual murder cases in Liberia since the 1960s‘ which included a link to a number of 2017 ritual murder cases. Since experience shows that after a certain lapse of time links to articles sometimes have disappeared or have become inaccessible I have decided to include this 2017 article in a separate post (hereunder).

As I have often emphasized here, the same experience of lost links  – gained after some 20 years dealing with this phenomenon – justifies (in my eyes) the choice I made of adopting the same approach with respect to (all) other articles containing information on ritual murders, witchcraft, superstition or related topics in SSA. 

I hope future researchers will be grateful for the choice I made! 
(FVDK)

Bong County protests election year ritual killings (2017 article)

Published: August 15, 2017
By: Rodney Sieh – Front Page Africa

Gbarnga, Bong County – An increasing number of mutilated bodies found this year in Bong County has sown fear among citizens of the county of resurgence in ritual killings.

“We have seen over five killings since the start of the year,” said Jacob Sameway, president of the Bong Christian Association (BOCA).

He said most of the victims were young girls whose lips, tongues, genitals and other organs had been removed.

The killings have stirred rising anger against the Government of Liberia and Police for doing too little to halt the murders.

“We want to shout out our disappointment and tell the authorities that this needs to stop,” said Olivia Weetol, president of the Bong County Women Organization.

Ansumana Jalloh, whose 12-year-old daughter was killed in Gbartala, Yellequelleh district in mid-December, told FrontPageAfrica he was losing hope for justice.

“When the Police removed the body from the water, they saw that the tongue, the lips, and the genitals were cut off,” he said.

“I filed a complaint but nothing has been done.”

In the most high-profile ritual murder case in Bong County to date, is a 29-year-old girl named Angeline Kolleh, 29, whose body was recently discovered decomposed in the Sugar Hill Community in Gbarnga.

Bong residents disappointed

Residents of the county told FrontPageAfrica Tuesday they are frustrated with the number of apparent ritual killings for multi purposes.

They marched through the streets of Gbarnga to demand that more should be done to address these crimes.

Women of the county under the banner the Bong County Women Association and the Bong Christian Association marched to the Gbarnga administration building on Tuesday and handed over position statements to acting Bong County Superintendent Anthony Sheriff and Bong County Attorney Wilkins Nat detailing several killings that had taken place in Bong County.

The position statement also said that residents in the county no longer feel safe, which is their constitutional rights.

“We present the position statement to the leadership of the county and the joint security apparatus in the county to address the issue of ritual purposes and wants the government empower the security particularly the Police to conduct rigorous search for Moses Porkpah, who is the alleged murder of Doris Nyan to ensure his arrest and to face justice without delay and consequences of his actions,” it said.

‘Police Failing Us’

The document detailed several murder cases which were opened, but in which no arrests were apparently made.

“The death aged 27-year-old Madasu Sannoe, who was reportedly murdered by her husband on June 17, 2015.

The remains of Sannoe is still at the St. Kennedy funeral home without clear decision from either the government nor her family members concerning her burial,” it alleged.

“Secondly, Doris Nyan aged 29 was killed in Cow Farm, Zota district on June 1, 2017 by her husband Moses Porkpah, who also fired two other community people in an effort to get him arrested. To date, Porkpah is yet to be arrested,” it added.

John Flomo aged 30 was killed in Bowee town on October 16, 2016. Jacob Kollie aged 25 was killed in Jennipleta, Jorquelleh District One on December 19, 2016. Ansu Massaquoi aged 45 was killed at Gull farm, Jorquelleh district on January 21, 2017,” it added.

“Our Police are failing us… it is like [criminals] did their own research to find that it will be much easier here because the Police are behaving like school principals sitting in their offices instead of being out in the streets saving lives,” said relatives of Nyan.

It called for the Police to intervene with immediate effect.

“We also expect to get response with immediate effect before the community takes law into their own hands,” the relative said.

Responding to the citizens’ petition, Bong County Attorney, Wilkins Nahn, said the government will ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Nahn called for patience from victims as all was being done to increase the search of Porkpah and other perpetrators. “I would like to thank you for resorting to this peaceful manner but I would like to assure that the Police have been exerting efforts to ensure that the perpetrators are arrested,” he said.

Solurce: Vote-Rich Liberian County Protests Election Year Ritualistic Killings

Sketchy overview of the most famous ritual murder cases in Liberia since the 1960s

As is clear from the article below, all Liberian presidents including William Tubman, William Tolbert, Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as well as other political leaders  are aware of the occurrence of ritual murders in the country, notably during election campaigns. It is even whispered that some presidents had a more than passive role in this respect but these – sometimes persistent – rumors have never been confirmed or proven.

The author, Melvin Pyne, presents an astonishing – sketchy – overview of ritualistic murders from the 1960s onwards hence covering a period of over half a century. 

He hasn’t mentioned them all. Certain cases have never been discovered. The thick Liberian forests hide many ritual murder crimes, I am very sure about this harsh reality, though without having proof of it. Nevertheless I am pretty sure that many people in Liberia will confirm this ‘gut feeling’ of mine (webmaster FVDK).

The Liberian government must take charge of our security, or else…

Published: January 17, 2022
By: Melvin D. Weh – Front Page Africa 

Last year ended on a rather low note for many  Liberians with the wave of alleged ritualistic, serial killings which instilled fear across the country. Communities and residents were on the brink of paranoia. Thus is upsetting the way of life for everyone.

Liberian history tells us that such killings have happened in the past. In the 60s and 70s, Gboyos (Heartmen) ravaged the southeastern parts of the country. Gboyos were a feared society that allegedly wore top hats, black suits, and captured people for ritualistic purposes. They took body parts, especially the hearts of their victims, thus earning them the nickname, Heartmen. The situation was so bad that the citizens pressured the government to act.

In 1979, the administration of President William Tolbert, took action. It investigated and convicted seven individuals including top government officials who were involved in the ritualistic murder of Mr. Moses Tweh in Harper, Maryland County. The court, after hearing the case, established a precedent. They handed down the verdict of guilty. The convicts were sentenced to death and subsequently executed publicly in Harper. Amongst those executed were James Anderson, Superintendent of Maryland County, Allen Yancy, representative of Maryland County and Philip B. Seyton, Senior Inspector of the Ministry of Commerce, Maryland County. This deterrent action practically slowed the act.

Years later in 1989, President Samuel Doe’s administration tried and convicted Defense Minister Maj. General Gray D. Allison and his wife Mrs. Angeline Watta Allison for the ritual murder of a police officer, J. Melvin Pyne in the Caldwell community. Gen. Allison was tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) at a military tribunal, found guilty and sent to Belleh Yalla, the maximum-security prison in Lofa County. His wife was convicted at ‘Criminal Court C’, and sentenced to life imprisonment according to the Mr. Max  Dennis, son of Mrs. Allison.

See: PYJ Hunted As Int’l War Crimes Investigators Arrive In Monrovia – Hot Pepper Releases More On How He Murdered Gray Allison And Wife (published August 12, 2015)

Allison was the most renowned government official convicted during the Doe regime. However, it is reported that an aide to president Doe, Mr. David K. Clarke and five others were tried, convicted and executed for the ritual murder of two little boys in 1987.

See: Ritual killings brings arrest of 6 Liberians (published May 4, 1987; New York Times).

Also: Ritual killings continue to be a plague  (Part III, ‘Liberia Past and Present’; webmaster FVDK))

And: Ritual killing laid to Liberian Official (published August 15, 1989; New York Times)

Liberia: Prince Johnson sentenced my mother to death – Watta Allison’s son breaks silence (published June 28, 2018, FP Africa)  

During the war years and President Taylor’s administration, there were rumors of murders for ‘Juju’ purposes. We must note that those were years of injustice and arbitrary justice, therefore there is not much record on how those cases were legally handled. Men in arms allegedly conducted speedy quasi-investigations and punished alleged perpetrators, wrongly too. Serious attention was not placed on the issues perhaps because killings were almost the norm, sadly.

On 29 June 2005 before the special general elections, there were reports of ritualistic killings almost across the country. The interim leader, Gyude Bryant warned that candidates tempted to boost their chances by carrying out human sacrifices will be executed if caught. While no one was successfully tried and convicted, Mr. Bryant’s warning seemed to have eased the situation for sometimes, as it was observed. ( BBC News, 29 June 2005)

In 2017 during the reign of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, protesters (women in majority) stormed Gbarnga City in demand of answers to over series of young women including 12 years old girl who were seen dead with missing body parts. The women of the county under the banner Bong Women Association and the Bong Christian Association marched in the streets demanding more actions from the government in addressing such monstrous crimes.

See: Vote-Rich Liberian County Protests Election Year Ritualistic Killings (published August 15, 2017, Front Page Africa)

Another notable case of ritual killing was the murder of seventeen years old Cyrus Yeawonyee in September 2015 in the suburb of the commercial city of Ganta. Cyrus was killed and body parts including eyes, ears and tongue were extracted according to report. Cyrus’ convicted killer was another teenager, Jacob Vambo who was sentenced to life in prison in February 2016. Vambo confessed to luring his friend Cyrus into the trap of powerful muscular men who allegedly killed him for a well-connected government official. His claims of the involvement of others in the killing could not be authenticated to punish those he had accused.

However, his lawyer (a Public Defendant) Cllr. Mewaseh Payebayee (late) and some observers believed his claims as they felt such a lanky looking child was incapable of overpowering someone and committing such gruesome murder.

A day after the investigation into Cyrus’ murder case by the Liberia National Police-LNP on 29th September 2015, Ganta experienced one of the most violent disruptions since the civil war. This time, it was a motorcyclist. The news of Cyrus killing was gradually fueling tension when the young man was discovered dead with blood allegedly drained from his body for the wealthy businessperson. Though, investigation disproved the allegation of ritual killing and established that the killing happened as a result of robbery, the damage was done. The popular Alvino Hotel in the City was looted and burned while two persons were reported dead, among the many damages done. About fifty arrests were made in connection to the riot. 

Blood and Power: Investigating a Ritual Murder in Liberia. November 28, 2017 article.
While a teenager is convicted of a gruesome killing, questions linger about occult violence among the power elite. By Ashoka Mokpo 
Click on image to access article 

With such history, it is no surprise why the public will be alarmed if there is a rearing up of such activities. The FrontPage Africa News Paper September 23, 2021 edition reported the alleged murder of John Tubman at his residence with deep cuts in the neck. John was the son of Liberia’s longest serving president William V.S. Tubman. Barely a month later, the death was reported of the renowned Rev. William Richard Tolbert, III, a peace ambassador and son of another former president, William Richard Tolbert, Jr. then, a Madam Maude Elliot of the Liberia Immigration Services (LIS) was also found dead. Both were murdered in their respective homes in similar conditions.

Additionally, amongst many others, the FrontPage Africa newspaper published on November 8, 2021 a list of several murders all of which occurred this year alone with victims displaying similar conditions. On that list was Jane Doe (Unidentified Woman) found on 17th Street Beach (September); Mordecai Nyemah (May), Florence Massaquoi (February), as well as, Robert M. Blamo, Jr., Bobby S. Gbeanquoi, and Siafa G. Boimah.

While last year, amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic, several other killings occurred- Elijah Polumah, Abraham Tumay, and George B. Fanbutu, mentioning a few.

But most troubling of all this were two separate incidents. First, is a statement by President George Weah in November, when he signed the book of condolence for the late Mr. Emmanuel Barten Nyenswa. Mr. Weah is on record urging citizens and residents to install at their premises, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras. He pointed out that government’s focus of security was on the country’s borders. Mr. Nyensuah’s death like three other auditors from the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) is still being investigated. Many believe their deaths were for political reasons or cover up for some malpractices they may have uncovered.

Mr. Weah is either unaware of the financial hardship in the country or does not care much about the innocent lives being lost. A people that can barely afford, how does he expect them to buy CCTVs that cost $1000 USD at a minimum? With many parts of the city out of electricity, how does he expect the cameras to work?

The second concerning issue is the remark made by the Liberia National Police Inspector General, Col. Patrick Sudue at Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) press conference.  Col. Sudue alleged that the news of serial and ritualistic killings in Monrovia and other parts of the country were fake stories being created by opposition politicians who want to implant fear and give negative image of the country and malign government’s reputation.

The IG’s statement on these recent issues suggests a political posturing. While Col. Sudue is a political appointee, the office of the Inspector General needs to be apolitical and professional, always endeavoring to maintain the integrity and independence of the Liberia National Police.

In midst of this scaring security situation, such comments undermine the confidence of the people in the government and the ability of the Liberian National Police to combat these criminal acts.

Such levels of insecurities lead to several dire consequences. Those who can afford, would now take the law into their own hands, those who can’t might find other means not necessarily legal. Are we to now become a lawless society? Then, there is the investment angle. It doesn’t present a secured environment for investors. They could then leave the country and with them other citizens and residents out of fear would flee the country. Investors (local and international) do shy away from investing due to insecurity and lack of justice. When investors do not invest, economically the country is affected as unemployment increases. Government incomes (personal and corporate income taxes are lost. Aggrieved citizens usually take mob justice as the only alternative. These amongst many negative reactions are recipes for chaos and anarchy.

The questions now are: what can be done here to change the atmosphere of fear? And how can we do it?

To these questions considering the preceding, the government is under obligation to protect the lives of those residing in the country. To ensure that the citizens do not regret electing the current administration, she has to act, and do it now. To avoid mob justice, the government must take charge of matters immediately. To avoid fleeing of citizens and other residents from the country, the government must muster the courage to dig deep into these happenings and punish perpetrators. To ensure current and potential investors that their lives and properties will be protected here, the government must change gear and expedite investigations into these matters.

In closing, while these acts have happened in the past, the onus is always on the government to fight them and protect the people. The Liberian National Police has to step-up, take control of the security, and avoid becoming political in handling these issues.

Source: The Liberian Government Must Take Charge Of Our Security, Or Else…

UN human rights expert urges Liberia to probe suspected ritual killings

Liberia has been in the grip of a series of mysterious deaths, unexplained disappearances and confirmed cases of ritual murders since at least early 2021 but in fact much earlier. It started with the unexplained death of a number of tax officials, three senior employees of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and the Director General of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), who were found dead within one month, in 2020.

Liberians on the scene where two LRA employees were discovered dead on 2 October, in downtown Monrovia.  © RFI/Darlington Porkpa
Source: Liberia requests US intervention after string of mysterious auditor deaths

The recorded cases of unexplained deaths and proven ritualistic murders stand at 10, for the year 2021 alone. I have extensively paid attention to these cases and the resulting social and political unrest in Liberia in more than 10 recent posts. See my posts dated September 30, October 1, October 4, October 5, October 7, October 9, October 22, October 23, November 9, November 10 and November 11.

Still, despite repeated appeals from prominent civil society and church leaders, politicians and journalists in Liberia, the reaction of the Liberian Government is one of silence and disappointing. This leads unnecessarily to fresh rumors of involvement of high ranking government officials, unfortunately not uncommon in Liberia.

Recently a UN human rights expert urged the Liberian Government to act and investigate the mysterious deaths and disappearances and arrest the culprits of the heinous crimes which are ritualistic murders for occult purposes (‘juju’).  

The ball is now in President Weah’s court. In 2017, the former soccer champion-turned-politician was elected by a majority of the unprivileged youth of Liberia after an election campaign promising them ‘change’. Liberia faces new presidential elections in 2023 and with mounting criticism and an opposition determined to unseat him, Weah is uncertain to gain a second mandate (webmaster FVDK).

UN human rights expert urges Liberia to probe suspected ritual killings

Liberian president George Weah faces mounting criticism and an opposition determined to unseat him in the forthcoming presidential elections slated for late 2023.

Published: December 10, 2021
By: Punch, Nigeria

A UN human rights expert on Friday urged Liberia to investigate claims that a spate of murders this year had a ritual motive, despite authorities having already denied those claims.

Rumours of ritual murders spread on social media in the West African nation this year, with reports of corpses found with body parts removed — possibly for occult purposes.

Liberian police have denied the bulk of the reports, however, and arrested a member of the political opposition accused of fanning the rumours.

On Friday, Morris Tidball-Binz, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, nonetheless urged Liberia’s government to investigate the killings.

The independent expert said in a statement that at least 10 people in Liberia had been murdered in unclear circumstances in 2021 year, “some of which have reportedly been linked to ritualistic practices”.

“Investigations should fully explore all possible motivations for these killings,” he was quoted as saying.

Ritual murders are not unheard of in Liberia, and were common during the country’s back-to-back civil wars from 1989 to 2003.

Body parts severed from the victim’s corpse are thought to be used in rituals designed to benefit the murderer.

However in September, Liberian Police Inspector General Patrick Sudue announced that most of the recent alleged incidents are baseless.

The same month, police arrested a member of the opposition party Alternative National Congress for posting misinformation about ritual slayings online.

Source: Liberia urged to probe suspected ritual killings

Liberia was created in 1847  by African-American colonists with the aid of the American Colonization Society, a white-dominated private organization, and political, military and financial support of the United States government.

Liberia: opposition leader Alexander Cummings comments on mysterious deaths, unsolved gruesome murders and reports of ritualistic killings

Introduction
In previous posts I highlighted the articles published by two leading Liberian newspapers, Frontpage Africa and the Daily Observer. Also The New Dawn, another well-known Liberian newspaper, has been paying attention to the increasing unrest and insecurity in the country which resulted from the unexplained deaths, disappearances and murders. In the first of three articles presented below, one of Liberia’s main opposition politicians, the leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander Cummings, criticizes the Weah Administration for the lack of security in the country and its lack of action. The author of the second article wonders whether there exists a death squad in the country, given the series of unexplained deaths. The third and final article reports on an alleged murder attempt for ritualistic purposes as well as the discovery of a dead body in the streets of Monrovia causing panic and fear among the residents of the area.   

Warning: some readers may find the following articles disturbing because of their graphic contents (webmaster FVDK).

Reports of rising wave of murders worry Cummings

Published: November 10, 2021
By: The New Dawn, Liberia

The Standard-bearer of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander B. Cummings says his heart is broken by the rising wave of murders and other acts of lawlessness overtaking the Liberian society.

At least three high profile individuals who have been discovered murdered in their homes in recent times-two are the sons of two former Presidents, Tubman and Tolbert.

Last week the Ministry of Justice ordered post mortem examinations on the remains of John Tubman, Maude Elliot, and William R. Tolbert, III – who were all discovered dead in their homes – as part of a full-scale investigation.

In a podcast over the weekend, why extending his deepest condolences to all the bereaved families, Cummings was irritated that under the George Weah administration, the Liberian Government has continued to fail the nation. Below is his full text.

Cummings: “Under this President, the Liberian Government continues to fail the nation.  The security situation in the country is worsening daily. Communities are unsafe, streets are unsafe, and homes are unsafe. One does not require any statistics to know Monrovia, the nation’s Capital, is overcome by fear and rising crimes. And yet, the President’s response was to disdainfully tell Liberians to buy and install close circuit televisions (CCTV) in their homes.

As families are grieving the many mysterious deaths, unsolved gruesome murders and reports of ritualistic killings that are laying siege to the society, an uncaring President Weah is vacationing at his Jamaica Resort irresponsibly disconnected from the daily living and entrapping fears of Liberians. The President is offering no real solutions to the rising wave of crimes and murders, and some of the government’s explanations around the mysterious deaths and murders have left more questions than they have sought to answer.

Protecting lives is the most basic duty of any responsible government. The Liberian President is the constitutional Head of State and Head of Government. As such, this basic duty begins and ends with President George Weah and he has failed at it.

No government can prevent the commission of all crimes. But no government must be repeatedly unresponsive as this Liberian Government to the rising wave of crimes overtaking the society. Also, no President ought to be vacationing while Liberians are being murdered, including in their homes. No President ought to be partying while murderous crimes are sweeping communities leaving Liberians to live in terror and fear.

Every Liberian life is precious. Therefore, I urge all Liberians to be careful. Move about in pairs. Look out for each other in the communities. Check on each other. Setup and enable community watch teams where it does not already exist and help each other when you sense someone is in distress. We can no longer depend on the failed government. Therefore, we must look to depend on each other for mutual security.

Liberia deserves better.

Source: Reports of rising wave of murders worry Cummings

Related:

Liberia: Signs of an emerging death squad

The deceased, Rev. William Tolbert, III

Published: November 4, 2021
By: The New Dawn, Liberia

Liberia: The wave of suspicious killings in Monrovia and parts adjacent is both scary and very disappointing, particularly under a civilian administration where security or law and order should be paramount. However, it seems that ghastly killings in homes every other week or month have become common in our society with the authority at the highest level remaining conspicuously silent.

Our attention is drawn to the suspicious death of three high-profile personalities, two of them, officials of government and a highly established private citizen in just over a month.

On Tuesday, November 2, 2021, the Government of Liberia announced the death of Liberia’s Peace Ambassador Rev. William R. Tolbert, III, youngest son of slain President Dr. William R. Tolbert, Jr. According to the Ministry of Information, Rev. Tolbert was discovered dead at his residence in Monrovia on Sunday, October 31, in what the Liberia National Police described as a suspected homicide. The same day, female officer Maude Elliott of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) said to be in her 50s, was found brutally murdered at home in Brewerville, outside Monrovia.

Earlier, in September this year, specifically September 22, 76-year-old John Hilary Tubman, a son of another former President, William V.S. Tubman, was reportedly found dead lying face down in a pool of blood with deep cuts to his neck and forehead with a pillow placed over his head at his residence in Fiamah community, Monrovia.

Interestingly, these personalities were alone in their respective homes when they were brutally killed. These are nothing else, but targeted murders that raise a concern about something sinister being perpetrated, and Police investigations should be able to establish.

There were other mysterious deaths in and around the city prior to these three specific cases listed above. And from the trend of events, we can deduce that there is a pattern being unleashed by a probable death squad that is roaming and seeking its next target.

The killings bear similar wounds that were inflicted in specific parts of the body, indicating there is a hired killer or a group of hired killers involved. Who are they working for is yet to be established but their targets may signal something.

Are we returning to the days of the Charles Julu death squad under slain President Samuel Kanyon Doe? God forbid! But the writings on the wall spell bad omen for our beloved country.

Sadly however, Civil Society, religious leaders and institutions including men and women of moral conscience in our society are silent about the unfolding development. Today, the late John Hilary Tubman, Officer Maude Elliott and Rev. William R. Tolbert, III, are the latest victims of this creeping evil in our country. We don’t who’s next.

Society should speak out now before it becomes too late. It is citizens’ alienable right guaranteed by our Constitution to peacefully assemble, protest and petition their representatives against anything that threatens their peace and happiness. If the current killings must stop, Liberians should rise up now!

Source: Liberia: Signs of an emerging death squad

Related:

Fear in Monrovia

Published: September 14, 2021
By: Lincoln G. Peters – The New Dawn, Liberia

Fear has gripped residents in Monrovia after a woman was discovered dead on 17th Street, Sinkor, a suburb of the Liberian capital early Tuesday morning, 14 September 2021, days after another lady claimed to have survived an attempt by her kidnappers to slaughter her for ritualistic purposes.

Residents of the 17th Street, Sinkor community woke up to the horrible news of the discovery of an unidentified woman on the beachside of the community.

Some residents who gathered at the scene have told reporters that the lady was unknown in the community, saying they have never been in the area prior to her death.

They narrated that the deceased appeared to have been sexually harassed and killed in another community by the alleged perpetrators before bringing her corpse to Sinkor and dumping it on the beachside. There were bruises on the lady’s lifeless body and blood was pouring out of it as well.

But James Pewe, a resident of the community, believed that the lack of police patrol in the area was responsible for the lady’s death.

He also said residents of the community are not standing up to take action in helping to protect the community.

Blama Kenneh, a businessman in the area said the young lady’s corpse was the second to have been discovered after a young mad person was also discovered in the nearby vicinity in recent months.

However the spokesman of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Moses Carter said the lady found dead was mentally ill.

The police spokesman told reporters that the deceased was sexually tempered with, and quoted family sources as saying that the lady left her home last week prior to the incident. He noted that police are investigating circumstances leading to her death.

Items found on the scene  belonging to the lady included an empty bag, long sticks, and other lady materials.

Source: Fear in Monrovia

Liberia, Two Op-Eds: ‘Enough is enough – too many murders going with impunity’ and ‘Silence is not an option, Mr. President!’

Yesterday’s post included an article published in one of Liberia’s main newspapers, the Daily Observer, on the current wave of killings and disappearances in Liberia and the urgent need for the police te act. Today, I wish to draw your attention to an editorial in another, equally important newspaper, Front Page Africa, founded, owned and edited by the famous Rodney Sieh.

The title of the Op-Ed speaks for itself, ‘Enough enough’. The editorial starts with an impressive list of nearly 20 victims: murdered, disappeared, mutilated, the victims have in common a cruel and premature end of their life. The author, Milton Nathaniel Barnes, criticizes the inaction of the government, the absence of the rule of law, and the persistence of impunity. 

Mr.Barnes’ cry is echoed by an article in the Daily Observer of today, November10: ‘Silence Is Not An Option, Mr. President!’

Already in mid-September, the Daily Observer had published an editorial entitled “The People of Liberia Are Under Siege – Break That Siege Now”, pointing out that rising insecurity had become an issue affecting all Liberians. The newspaper editor criticizes President George Weah and concludes with a pertinent statement: ‘(….) President Weah must break his silence, speak to the Liberian people and reassure them. For, anything short of this would suggest complicity. Silence is not an option Mr. President!‘ 

Will President Weah understand the message and act accordingly?
We’ll see the coming days.
I will report on subsequent developments (webmaster FVDK).

Liberia: Enough Is Enough – Too Many Murders Going With Impunity

Published: November 8, 2021
By: Milton Nathaniel Barnes – Front Page Africa, Liberia

Follows a list of recent victims: 

Rev. Dr. William R. Tolbert III (November 1, 2021)

Maude Elliot (October 31, 2021)

John H. Tubman (September 22, 2021)

Unidentified Woman on 17th Street Beach (September 14, 2021)

Matthew J. Innis (August 2019)

Mordecai Nyemah (May 2021)

Melvin Earley (February 19, 2021)

Florence Massaquoi (February 2021)

Robert M. Blamo, Jr. (2021)

Bobby S. Gbeanquoi (2021)

Siafa G. Boimah (2021)

Albert Peters (October 2020)

Gifty Lama (October 2020)

Elijah Polumah (2020)

Abraham Tumay (2020)

George B. Fanbutu (2020)

Possibly, others unknown 

WHAT’S GOING ON, MY PEOPLE? In every instance above, innocent lives have been taken; and, we are not sure what is being done about it.  Liberians are dying mysteriously or being brutally murdered.  Murderers are getting away with impunity.  The usual lip service is paid; the family greaves; and, we carry on our lives disillusioned and frightened.

WHAT IS EXASPERATING about this is that Liberians are fearing for their lives in the midst of dire poverty and economic straits.  They barely eke out a living encountering the huge cost of feeding themselves, educating their children, paying their rent, transporting themselves, only to be faced with the threat of someone murdering them in cold blood.

WHY ARE LIBERIANS continuing to face these nearly insurmountable challenges? Simply stated, this is due to the absence of Law and Order, which should, at the very least, investigate and inform the public so as to reassure them that authorities are responding with urgency.  In this particular environment, when criminals believe that they can get away with heinous acts including brutal murders, they take that as a “license to kill” in view of the fact that there appear to be no consequences.

IN MY OPINION, this comes down to the matter of leadership.  For quite a while now, Liberia has been led by politicians as opposed to authentic leaders.  Basically, what I’m saying is that there is a distinct difference between a leader and a politician.  An authentic and effective leader will address numerous challenges, be they economic (fiscal-monetary management, unemployment, etc.) or social (justice, education, healthcare etc.), using a wide array of tools.  A leader knows how to corral the appropriate experts who can provide effective solutions to whatever challenges may arise within his or her sphere of influence. 

A POLITICIAN, on the other hand, possesses a singular tool that is used to address any and every issue: politics.  From the politician’s perspective, every problem, regardless of its nature, requires the solution of political rhetoric.  The politician says whatever he or she believes will assuage the people.  The goal is to persuade the people that things will be fine. Saying so, as we all know, does not make things so. Yet, the only tool of the politician is politics (i.e. the power of persuasion).

IN THE FACE OF MURDERS with impunity, leaders, at all levels of society, cannot afford to sit aside with indifference.  We must stand up against these outrageous acts.  We know that God is the ultimate judge; yet, every true religion teaches us that there are laws by which we must govern ourselves.  In Liberia, our entire social fabric is at risk of disintegrating.  No society, without a modicum of justice in the face of serious crime, can continue to function.  It will inevitably tumble into utter chaos. 

IN VIEW OF WHAT IS UNFOLDING, I am poised to ask the following questions:

Can we, as a country and people, take decisive steps to address these concerns?

Can we source international support to investigate these deaths many of which seem mysterious; if, and only if, we lack the resources and technical ability to do so?

Can the public be kept abreast as to the progress Government is making in investigating these deaths?

CAN WE ALSO ENDEAVOR to investigate the drivers of these mysterious killings?

Lest we forget, regardless of the circumstances of these deaths, whether politically motivated and or based on hatred, they do have ripple effects that transcend the actual victims. We may have to deal with how family members are affected and what interpretation others connected to the victims may conceive.

REMEMBER, the fruit of peace and freedom is priceless; and living in the spirit of fear breeds distress.

THIS IS A CLARION call to all people of Liberia to stand up and put an end to brutal murders and other serious crimes.  Our first step is to unilaterally and publicly condemn these atrocious acts; and, then, demand that our justice system fully and completely investigates each unexplained death. Culprits must be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.

IN TIMES OF TROUBLE, when good people sit aside supinely and do nothing, they are no better than the perpetrators of evil; for there is an adage that says, “we give acquiescence by our silence.”

Source: Liberia: Enough Is Enough – Too Many Murders Going With Impunity

Silence Is Not An Option, Mr. President!

Published: November 10, 2021
By: Editorial Board – Daily Observer, Liberia

Barely two months ago in its September 16, 2021 editorial headlined – “The People of Liberia Are Under Siege – Break That Siege Now”,  the Daily Observer pointed out that rising insecurity had become an issue of grave concern to Liberians across the board.
Note of the webmaster: This article by the Daily Observer’s Editorial Board has been included below – italics are mine, FVDK).

There have been persistent media reports of unexplained disappearances as in the case of the Blamo brothers who were reportedly hired by the proprietor of the St. Moses Funeral Parlors and extrajudicial killings including ritualistic killings carried out by individuals with alleged links to this government.

We recall the deaths last year of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) government auditors under mysterious circumstances. President Weah’s comments, suggesting that Gifty Lama and her colleague who were found dead in a vehicle on Broad Street were both lovers making out in their car, sent a wave of shock through the public.

Another LRA official, while driving along the SKD Boulevard, was attacked by machete wielding motorcyclists, causing him to run off the road and crash into a nearby house.

In yet another instance, the head of the Internal Audit Agency was killed after allegedly falling from the balcony of his house on SKD Boulevard. 

President Weah’s response to that development was to urge citizens to install close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras around their homes. That was well before the spike in reports of ritualistic killings around the country, which has served to create a climate of fear and uncertainty amongst the citizenry.

It is safe to say that Police response to such reports of extrajudicial killings have been at best ineffectual. Police Inspector-General Patrick Sudue, responding to expressed public concerns about the rise in ritualistic killings, dismissed such reports, adding that Liberians are freely disposing of their dead in the streets because of their inability to give their relatives a decent burial.

He further declared that it was against such a backdrop that reports of bodies being discovered with parts missing were all fake news, intended to discredit the Weah administration.

But as events have shown, the fears of the people appear justified, given the spate of recent brutal murders of John Hilary Tubman, son of the late President William V.S. Tubman; William Richard Tolbert III, son of the late President William Richard Tolbert, Jr; and former immigration officer, Maude Elliot, in their respective homes.

Those tragic events, all unfolding within a very short period, have again raised public concerns about what they see as no end to the growing wave of insecurity under this government. 

Not a single perpetrator has been apprehended in all of the cases cited earlier. This is giving rise to a heightened sense of insecurity. After dark, the streets of Monrovia become virtually deserted. 

By 10pm latest, all stores, shops and supermarkets are shut and business comes to a grinding halt, except for a few night clubs which remain open until midnight.   

Only recently, in broad daylight, a group of armed thugs invaded a restaurant and bar located on 19th Street near the beach, shaking down bartenders and customers alike, taking away their valuables and money.

To the best of public knowledge, no suspects have, as yet, been apprehended by the Police. The Police, as is well known, is hamstrung in the effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities by the critical lack of logistics including communications.

However, concerns about corruption remain an abiding concern. Salaries are low, discipline poor, and effective leadership is lacking. Under the leadership of current Police Inspector-General Patrick Sudue, public confidence in the Police has waned significantly to the point where the Police is now being seen as partisan.

This negative public impression of the Police persists despite pronouncements by a local civil society group, National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (NAYMOTE) declaring that public confidence in the Police is increasing.

Given the current outlook, it appears that the restoration of public confidence in the Police is still a long way off. The disconnect between the Police and the public appears to be widening instead.  

Official government support to the Police rather than being directed at countering public dissent and clamping down on freedom of speech and assembly should instead be increased to aid its effectiveness and ability to provide protection to the people of Liberia.

This newspaper once again reminds President Weah that there is a climate of fear being created by such gruesome and mysterious killings as well as unexplained disappearances. The Daily Observer has consistently reminded this government that the creation of a climate of fear is in no one’s interest. 

This is because of the recognized fact that a climate of fear also induces feelings of hate and ill-will towards the government. Such feelings can be suppressed but only for a time. They simmer and without warning can explode like a volcano with dastardly implications for social cohesion, national stability and security.

Accordingly, it behooves all — the public and government alike — to work in tandem to curb the rise in violent crime and politically motivated murders such as ritualistic killings.

Above all, it bespeaks the urgent need to end the culture of impunity. And lest we forget, the TRC report provides a proper starting point — that is implementation of its recommendations, especially those recommendations on criminal accountability.

Quite clearly, the rule of law can never thrive in a situation where mass murders and war criminals parade the corridors of power lording over the victims of their crimes. 

Equally so, can it be said that unscrupulous individuals, driven by greed and feeling emboldened by the fact that warlords have since enjoyed impunity, could also attempt to follow their example.

As leader, President Weah should ensure that matters concerning the safety, security and wellbeing of the Liberian people be treated with foremost and not benign concern. 

This means President Weah must break his silence, speak to the Liberian people and reassure them. For, anything short of this would suggest complicity. Silence is not an option Mr. President!

Source: Silence Is Not An Option, Mr. President!

The People of Liberia Are Under Siege! Break That Siege Now, Mr. President!

Published: September 16, 2021
By: Editorial Board – Daily Observer, Liberia

Rising insecurity is/has become an issue of grave concern to Liberians across the board. Report of a rise in ritual killings, unexplained disappearances, extrajudicial killings carried out by individuals with alleged links to this government have all been major topics of concern on virtually all local radio talk-shows recently.

Barely a week ago, a driver of the National Transit Authority (NTA) assigned to ferry to and from the Roberts International Airport (RIA) supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) who turned out to welcome returning CDC chairman Mulbah Morlu was seriously wounded under unexplained circumstances.

The incident, according to eyewitness accounts, occurred in the environs of the CDC Congo Town headquarters. According to a family spokesman, they believe their relative was shot and seriously wounded. Further, according to the spokesman, they have appealed to authorities of the MTA to fly their relative out of the country for advanced treatment in view of his critical condition resulting from the alleged shooting by an unidentified individual.

But the Police see things differently. According to Police spokesperson Moses Carter, the NTA driver’s injury was caused by a stone thrown by an unidentified individual. Some eyewitness accounts, however, say the driver was shot. As to whether it was an accidental discharge or not remains unclear. But family members maintain that a stone would not cause extreme injury to their relative that would place his life in such grave danger.

Just who is telling the truth remains unclear in the absence of a medical report stating the kind of injury sustained and its causal agent.  The Police are urged to go further in the provision of adequate and accurate information to the public.

Another recent development is the unexplained killing of a female whose lifeless body was discovered on 17 Street near the beach. According to the Police, she was sexually assaulted. Further, the Police maintain that she was mentally challenged and was reported to have often left home for unknown destinations.

But according to eyewitness accounts, the crime scene appeared as though there had been a tussle between the lady and her assailants. Further, according to them, her head appeared to have been bashed by a blunt object, and that parts of her body were extracted. However, these accounts have not been confirmed by the Police. It would however do the Police well to conduct an autopsy and make public the findings.  

This is necessary because of the general negative public perception of the Liberia National Police (LNP). Several unexplained deaths/killings have occurred recently that have left the public with rising feelings of insecurity and a growing lack of trust in the ability of this government to protect them.

Recalling from history, rising insecurity and general perceptions of government’s inability to protect the people always serve to undermine the legitimacy of that government. Such was the case with the Doe administration, in which the abuse of human rights was commonplace. Eventually, it led to violent resistance that took away his life.

Similarly placed was the government of President Charles Taylor, who came to power on the heels of a prolonged civil war. At a sovereign national conference convened during his administration, the greatest and unanimous concern of delegates at that conference was insecurity.

But President Charles Taylor, it appeared, remained impervious to those expressed concerns as he did virtually nothing to curtail the excesses of his security forces. The rest is history. According to a retired diplomat, Liberians have had enough, more than their fair share of disruptions to their lives caused by the insane greed of their leaders. Some according to him were known to have indulged in ritual murder and practices.

A former National Patriotic Front (NPFL) rebel, Joseph Zigzag Marzah testified before the Sierra Leone Special Court sitting in The Hague that he and others, along with former Liberian President Charles Taylor, partook in ritual feasts that involved human body parts.   Ritualistic killing has been practiced in Liberia for a long time. Those who indulge in it believe that drinking human blood and consuming potions containing human body parts impart them with magical prowess to overcome their enemies politically or otherwise.

In 1977, during the reign of President Tolbert, several prominent individuals and commoners were tried in Maryland County on charges of ritual murder. They were found guilty and sentenced to death and were publicly hanged.  For a prolonged period thereafter, ritualistic killing subsided. It has since however reared its head. During the Doe and Taylor administrations, ritualistic killing was a known fact. Cannibalism, especially the eating of human hearts, was practiced by all the warring factions during the civil war

But of late, ritualistic killing and extrajudicial killings have become matters of rising public concern. Indications so far suggest that this government is doing virtually little or nothing to stop it.  Additionally, crime, especially violent crime is on the increase. Abductions, handbag and phone snatching by individuals mounted on motorcycles have also increased. Although the public is raising concern, the LNP response appears ineffectual.

This may more likely than not lead to situations where people generally begin to take matters into their hands. Such would not augur well for general public safety, security, and national stability.  This is why the public expects that President Weah should become seized of the matter and do something concrete to address concerns about the alleged involvement of his officials in a ritualistic murder.

He is currently on a mission to Accra, Ghana, intended to resolve the situation in neighboring Guinea arising from the overthrow of President Alpha Conde. ECOWAS and the AU have since imposed sanctions. As a leader, President Weah should remember that cardinal among his duties is the duty to defend the people against threats to their safety and security and ensure the protection of their rights.  For your information, the people of Liberia are under siege Mr. President. You have to break that siege now!

Source: The People of Liberia Are Under Siege! Break That Siege Now, Mr. President!