Liberia: “We’ll Continue the Sande Bush Practice of Our Ancestors” – Zoes in Margibi Vow

The following article contains two interesting aspects to which I would like to draw the readers’ attention.

First, I was struck by the public declaration of Chief Zoe, Ma Wrote Musa, to continue certain traditional practices of the ancestors, including the practicing of FGM, female genital mutilation. My interpretation of these remarks is that traditional values and behavior are still undisputed in Liberia, at least at the highest level.

Secondly, almost causal the Chief Zoe mentions ritual killings. Shocking, it’s a public acknowledgement that these age-old practices still occur in this West African country. I found it shocking – which it is not really, in the sense that everyone in Liberia knows of the existence of these crimes, based on greed, superstition and the disrespect of the rule of law and of the human rights of the victims – including the government. (FVDK)

Liberia: “We’ll Continue the Sande Bush Practice of Our Ancestors” – Zoes in Margibi Vow

“We will continue the Sande Bush practice of our ancestors in Liberia. We inherited this practice, and in no way, we are willing to end it. And, if the government and others want to force us, we will traditionally resist. If they want us to leave our ancestors’ practice, let them be equally prepared to let go other practices such as same-sex, the UBF, the Free Masons and ritualistic killings, etc,” said Chief Zoe, Ma Wroto Musa.

Published: August 30, 2022
By: Mae Azango – Front Page Africa

MONROVIA – Hundreds of Liberian school-aged girls and young women stand the risks of being initiated into the Sande Society, also known as the bush school, because, traditional leaders of Margibi County pledged to continue their ancestors’ traditional heritage. 

Chief Zoe, Ma Wroto Musa, Chief Samuel Kollie and other traditional leaders in Weala Margibi County vowed to continue Sande activities admit the three-year suspension on the practice.

“We will continue the Sande Bush practice of our ancestors in Liberia. We inherited this practice, and in no way, we are willing to end it. And, if the government and others want to force us, we will traditionally resist. If they want us to leave our ancestors’ practice, let them be equally prepared to let go other practices such as same-sex, the UBF, the Free Masons and ritualistic killings, etc,” said Chief Zoe, Ma Wroto Musa. 

Speaking in Weala Margibi County, during a recent town hall in meeting, organized by HeForShe Crusaders Liberia, the West Point Women for Health and Development Organization and Community Healthcare Initiative, the zoes, along with over 20 traditional leaders, said even though they are knowledgeable of the three years suspension on FGM activity in Liberia, but they will continue until same-sex and UBF is abolished as well. 

During the ongoing dialogue, in affirmation of their support, all the invited traditional participants raised their hands in support of FGM continuation in Liberia. 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is the umbrella entity responsible for regulations of all traditional affairs, is unaware of the violation by many traditional leaders. When contacted regarding the wave of FGM activities going on after the three-year ban placed on the practice, Assistant Minister for Culture and Customs, Joseph B. Jangar, said he is surprised and shock at the same time such activities but promised to follow up with superintendents of the various counties that are said to be violating the three-year moratorium. 

“The zoes and traditional leaders are all aware of the three-year suspension and not one of those zoes operating the bush schools will be able to show you any certificate from the Ministry of Internal Affairs because we are aware of the ban,” said Minister Jangar. 

It can be recalled that in late February 2022, Chief Zanzan Karwor, Chairman of the National Traditional Council of Liberia, announced a three-year suspension of the practice of female genital mutilation in Liberia. The three-year ban which started with immediate effect came amidst campaigns by human rights groups for a total ban on the practice. But it seems since the declaration was made, many traditional leaders are openly violating the ban. 

“FGM/C is not only a human rights violation, but undermines the peace and security of each and every female. Access to bodily autonomy is a right to every woman, end FGM and its not cultural but harmful suppression,” Saye Tamba F. Johnson, National HeForShe Crusaders Liberia. Johnson said Margibi County is the second county that has challenged the three-year suspension of FGM. The first was Grand Cape Mount in February of 2022. However, Lofa, Gborpolu, Grand Bassa, Bong, Montesrrado and Rivercess Counties are reportedly still carrying out the act, too. 

According to this newspaper’s Nimba County Correspondent, two zoes in that county paid dearly for disobedience to the three-year ban when they were arrested in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, for forcing over 8000 school-going aged girls into the Sande Bush. The girls, who had gone to prepare for 2022/2023 school year, were all captured and forced into the Bush School by the two traditional leaders. And the report added that the practices are presently taking place in the 19 administrative districts in Nimba County.

HeForShe Crusaders Liberia, Lofa County Coordinator Boakai Yamah reported on the increase of FGM activities and listed towns and villages that are carrying out the practice during the three-year suspension. 

“I reported earlier from Lofa County, on the increase in the numbers of Sande Bushes in operation across the county. Here are the names and locations where Sande Bush activities are ongoing.

1. Gbordu Town, Kpalakollie Clan, Tangia Administrative District, Foya 

2. Lawalazu Town, Lower Workor Clan, Voinjama District 

3. Zawoadamai Town, Lower Workor Clan, Voinjama District 

4. Borgondu Town, Quardu Gboni District 

5. Korlelar Town, Quardu Gboni District 

6. Kamolahun Town, Ngolahun Clan, Lukambeh District 

7. Manena Town, Hembeh Clan, Lukambeh District 

8. Lehuma Town, Wanwoma Clan, Wanhassa District. 

However, for Lehunma Town all preparations have been put in place to take the children,” concluded Coordinator Yamah. Back to the Weala Meeting in Margibi, following the intense awareness on the importance of maintaining all positive attributes of the Sande Bush, making away with the circumcision aspect, the leaders and supporters disagreed. “Our leaders at the national level are seeking money and forgetting the values of our heritage. They are seeking their own personal interest and not us. They don’t consult us on issues; we only hear about them, which is a disservice to us. Hence, there is a need for you all to keep engaging us and let us know who are directly involved with the bush and speak out on what is possible,” said Chief Samuel Kollie.

Source:
Liberia: “We’ll Continue the Sande Bush Practice of Our Ancestors” – Zoes in Margibi Vow

Liberia: Traditional devils arrest six men for allegedly killing two children for rituals 

The arrest of six men in Nimba County, Liberia, for allegedly killing two children on June 9 warrants three comments.

Handsome-boy Mahn, 9 years old, and 4-year old Zayzay David mysteriously went missing in Boe Bonlay Town, Boe-Quillah Administrative District, which is also part of District #6, Nimba County. Later the kids were found dead, murdered, although the police ruled out any foul play. Subsequently, the villagers asked traditional devils for help, to search for the perpetrators. This led to a ‘citizen arrest’ when six men were arrested on July 16 and turned over to police in Sanniquellie, Nimba County for interrogation. Among the suspects was an uncle of the two children.

Reportedly, the arrested men confessed and admitted to killing the two kids. The suspects accused a former Deputy Defense Minister of involvement ands ordering the ritualistic murder. Allegedly, the named former deputy minister wanted to contest for a representative seat in 2023 in Nimba District #6.

The reader is warned that the article below contains graphic details.

The incident leads me to three comments, based on the facts as reported by the source, the Liberian newspaper Daily Observer, one of Liberia’s leading newspapers, known and respected for its trusted news and interesting analyses.

First, the ‘election season’ is approaching in Liberia with planned presidential and general elections in 2023. It is not uncommon in Liberia that during election campaigns people disappear mysteriously, to be found later dead, mutilated, with ‘parts missing’, a local expression indicating the removal of organs or body parts for ritualistic purposes. Already Liberia has experienced several cases of unexplained disappearances, suspected deaths, and obvious ritual murders in the past few years.

Secondly, if true that initially the police had reported that it had found no foul play whereas the bodies of the victims were found to be not intact, this raises questions about police competence and the rule of law in Liberia. The latter has been subject to increasing criticism during the current administration of President George Weah who faces elections in 2023, the outcome of which will decide whether he will be a ‘one-term-President’ or will seize a second presidential term. It is interesting to note that apparently the people of Boe Bonlay Town showed more confidence in their traditional devils than in the local police.

Lastly, the Daily Observer article presented below contains the full name of the former Deputy Minister of Defense who is allegedly involved in this crime. Although this may be in conformity with Liberian rules and practice, I personally disapprove of such public naming and shaming. Moreover, we should always bear in mind that a suspect or accused person is not guilty unless found guilty by a competent, independent judge in a public, non-partisan trial.

In view of the in my opinion hectic period which Liberia will be facing the next two years it is important to realize this.
(webmaster FVDFK)

Liberia: ‘Traditional devils’ arrest six men suspected of two ritual killings

Published: June 24, 2022
By: Ishmael G. Menkor – The Daily Observer

Traditional devils in the Nimba County District #6, specifically Boe Bonlay Town, have arrested six men for allegedly killing two children on June 9. The two children, identified as Handsome-boy Mahn, 9, and Zayzay David, 4, mysteriously went missing in the Boe Bonlay Town, Boe-Quillah Administrative District, which is also part of District #6, Nimba County.

The kids had returned from the farm before the unfortunate accident.  According to the kids’ parents, Mahn and David went missing while playing.  The community then launched a search immediately but unfortunately, the kids were found dead with their bodies dumped in two separate wells about 20 minutes apart. The death of the two children then raised concern and fears among the citizens and the district at large, especially when the police or the 15-person coroner jury explained that there was no foul play found.

Despite the jury or the police ruling out any foul-play, the citizens this time brought out traditional devils to search for the perpetrators. During this exercise, several men were arrested on July 16 and turned over to police in Sanniquellie, Nimba County for interrogation.

Following their arrest, the six suspects reportedly admitted to killing the children, with one of the accused suspects, Prince Karney, age 41, explaining that they were given the amount of US$1,200 for the operation.

According to information, the main suspect, Zayee Winpea, 43, was hired by Karney to kill the two children for the amount of US$300, while Nenkerwon Mahn, 18, was given US$150 to serve as a watchman while the killing was ongoing. Nenkerwon Mahn is said to be the uncle of the two kids and he also confessed to serving as gate man, while the killing was going on.

The oldest among the suspects, Morris Gonwon, age 45, was also promised US$150 for his part, but his role in the killing was not spelled out.  Two of the suspects, George Sumah, 42, and Lawrence Freeman, 45, were accused of transporting the blood to Monrovia, while Harrison Sumah, 29, grabbed the two children by luring them with lollipops and took them to the house where they were killed, according to Radio Nimba.

Karney was said to be the ‘youth leader’ of Boe Bonlay in Nimba County, and the district coordinator for the Friends of former Deputy Defense Minister Jackson Paye, who had expressed his desire to contest for a representative seat in 2023 in Nimba District #6.

Former Minister Paye was accused by the suspects of facilitating the killing by giving them US$1,200. But Paye on Truth FM on June 23 denied any link to the killing, describing the killing as barbaric, inhumane, and uncivilized.

He explained that the Friends of Paye want the law to take its course, ensuring the alleged perpetrators face the full weight of the law.

Source: Liberia: Traditional Devils Arrest Six

Nimba County, Liberia

Shocking report on rural infanticide, violence against children accused of witchcraft, and ritual attacks against children with albinism in 19 SSA countries

In a recently released document of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), Revealing Our Hidden Shame – Addressing Charges of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks, it is being reported that “hundreds of thousands of children in Africa are believed to be accused every year of what is widely regarded across Africa as a particularly heinous crime: witchcraft”.

In the document, 19 Sub-Sahara African countries are mentioned as the scene of cases of the commission of rural infanticide crimes, attacks against children with disabilities, ritual attacks against children with albinism and cases of violence against children accused of witchcraft.

The 19 SSA countries are scattered across the continent and it is believed – in view of the scarcity of data – that the cases which have come to light only constitute the tip of the iceberg.

It goes without saying that there is no place in the 21st century for these practices and crimes.

Warning: Some readers may find the following story disturbing
(webmaster FVDK).

Cult-related attacks against children still occur in at least 19 SSA countries

Published: June 2, 2022
By: LUSA – Macau Business dot com

Angola is the only Portuguese-speaking African country mentioned in a report released on Wednesday by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) on the practice of ritual attacks against children.

In the document, “Revealing Our Hidden Shame – Addressing Charges of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks”, presented Tuesday in a video conference from Addis Ababa, “hundreds of thousands of children in Africa are believed to be accused every year of what is widely regarded across Africa as a particularly heinous crime: witchcraft”.

ACPF executive director Joan Nyanyuki argues in the introduction that “across the African continent, much has been done to improve laws and policies aimed at ending violence against children.”

“Some progress has been made in establishing the systems and structures needed to implement and enforce these policies and laws. These efforts, however, have not sufficiently addressed an important dimension of violence against children: accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks,” it adds.

In the document, 19 countries are referenced as the scene of cases of the commission of rural infanticide crimes, attacks against children with disabilities, attacks against children with albinism and cases of violence against children accused of witchcraft.

“The report documents, to the extent possible in light of the scarcity of data, how widespread accusations of witchcraft are across the continent (although they vary in extent over time and from place to place). Best estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of children face accusations every year in Africa and subsequently suffer serious violations.”

Examples given by the document point to reported cases of ritual infanticide in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and Niger, while Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Essuatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Rwanda and Zimbabwe have reported ritual attacks on children with disabilities.

Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali and Tanzania have reported attacks on children with albinism and in South Africa, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania cases of violence against children accused of being witches are reported.

“To protect children from the harm of witchcraft accusations, it is not necessary to deny that ‘witchcraft’ exists. Instead, it is important to prioritise child protection while preventing child abuse by addressing the belief that such abuse can somehow protect communities from perceived danger,” the document argues.

The research that resulted in the report found that with the exception of work done by some non-governmental organisations, “few organisations and states in Africa make systematic efforts to prevent such abuse”.

“Few prohibit accusations. Services for children who have suffered harm and violence related to accusations are few and far between. This area needs urgent attention,” argues the report.

Joan Nyanyuki argues “a comprehensive and coordinated effort by state and non-state actors is needed to uncover the nature, magnitude and impact of violence related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks. This approach will ensure that child protection systems, laws and policies are enhanced to adequately address these forms of violence against children.”

Source: Angola: Cult-related attacks against children still occur in country – report

Also see the following linksWarning: some readers may find the following stories and photos disturbing

How Nigeria’s fear of child ‘witchcraft’ ruins young lives
ALJAZEERA – Marc Ellison, November 14, 2018

‘They accused me of killing and eating my grandmother’: Agony of Congo’s 50,000 ‘child witches’ who are brutally exorcised to ‘beat the devil out of them’
Daily Mail UK / MailOnLine, Nick Fagge, October 19, 2015

Child-witches of Kinshasa
The Eye Of Photography – L’ŒIL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE January 2, 2012

‘Saving Africa’s Witch Children’ – June 22, 2009

Saving Africa’s Witch Children (dated June 22, 2009) reporting on how thousands of small children in Nigeria are branded witches. The web page also contains a large number of news reports and articles (2005-2009) including websites of organizations fighting against these cruel and illegal practices.

Africa Map

Liberia: Joseph Marzah, key Massaquoi ally, says Finnish Court got it wrong

Earlier this month I already reported on the acquittal of Gibril Massaquoi, who stood trial in Finland, accused of war crimes and human rights violations during Liberia’s civil war. See my post entitled Liberia war crimes: Sierra Leone rebel commander acquitted of rape, ritual murder and the recruitment of child soldiers.

The article below refers to statements made by Joseph Marzah, a former rebel-general and a former key ally of Gibril Massaquoi. Joseph Marzah, commonly known as “Zizar Marzah” said that the Finnish District Court got it wrong when it acquitted Massaquoi of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Liberia.

The reason for including Marzah’s observations and denial is to demonstrate the complexity of war crimes courts and the handling of accusations against suspected perpetrators of war crimes including ritualistic murders. The fact that during Liberia’s civil war(s) ritualistic activities including ritual murders have been committed is not disputed. For shortness sake I may refer here to the Final Report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released in 2009, which report provides ample examples of these horrific crimes.

(To be continued, see my May 24 posting)
(webmaster FVDK)

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

Liberia constitutes another never ending story as far as ritual killings are concerned. The reported ritual murder case below is shocking but, unfortunately, has a strong ‘seen before’ character.

The killing of Worteh Koffa is another murder in the southeastern part of Liberia, notorious for its ritualistic murders. The article below elaborates on these cases including Liberia’s most notorious ritual murder case which led to the arrest and subsequent conviction and sentencing – ‘death by hanging’ – of seven convicted rituals murderers, among whom two so-called ‘big shots’, the Superintendent of Maryland County, James Daniel Andersen (the personal representative of then Present Tolbert in this part of the country) , and the representative of Maryland County in the House of Representatives, Allen Yancy.
(webmaster FVDK)

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).
(webmaster FVDK)

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”.
(webmaster FVDK)

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…