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.
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!
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.
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.”
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!
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!
The social unrest in Liberia continues. Reports of mysterious murders, unexplained disappearances and ritualistic activities continue unabated. Recently, I’ve reported multiple times on this site on the daily fear of ordinary Liberian citizens following the discovery of bodies ‘with some vital parts missing’ – an obvious reference to ritualistic activities – and after the discovery of victims of some of the gruesome murders which shocked Monrovia’s residents. See my posts of September 30, October 1, October 4, October 5, October 7, October 9, October 22 and October 23.
In the article below Joe Teh reflects on the possible causes of the current wave of mystery murders, disappearances and ritual killings which terrorizes Liberians. Interestingly, the first possible explanation he gives focuses on the general and presidential elections slated for 2023. This is not surprising. Liberia has a bad reputation in this respect. Secondly, he mentions Liberia’s open borders and the country’s fragile if not outright failing security system as another possible cause. In this respect, it is illustrative that the National Police Director, Patrick Sudue, has been denying that ritualistic murders are being committed in Liberia – in spite of the overwhelming evidence.
So far, President Weah has remained silent on this sensitive subject. The reasons for his silence are unknown but this only causes the persistence and spread of rumors and speculations. This is not how to rule a country. The government must act.
This is also the plea worded by Joe Teh in the article below. His article is recommended reading (webmaster FVDK).
Police Must Step Up To Stop the Wave of Killings and Disappearances in Liberia
Published: November 9, 2021 By: Guest contributor Joe Teh – Daily Observer, Liberia
For those who are quite older as I’m, I presume memories of sudden disappearances of people and secret killings have been flashing across the psyche of Monrovia residents in the past several weeks or months. The series of secret killings allegedly going on in and around the city are scenes very hard to process.
For impoverished people for whom there is no public policy response to address their poverty and other social woes, living from day to day, going out and hustling to survive is marked by fear and terror. Yet, the ongoing mysterious disappearances of some residents in the city and the unsolved murders in the communities are a brutal reminder of the “boyo” era in the southeastern region of Liberia, especially Maryland County in the 1960s and ‘70s.
In those days, individuals seeking higher positions of influence in government, or wanting to maintain power, were alleged to have paid middlemen to kidnap and murder people for ritualistic purposes. Vital parts and organs were extracted from victims to satisfy “juju” or voodoo doctors’ requirements for a “powerful” desirous outcome.
The wave of ritualistic killings inflicted terror on the people who, for most part, must walk distances by foot to their farms or villages. You never know when a car will stop by you in a quiet alley or highway, especially when you are a lone traveler or two. “Heart men”, as the heartless killers were paradoxically called, would either offer you a ride or simply jump on you and subdue you to whisk you away to where they can murder you and take your heart and other organs.
The local and central governments remained silent and paid deaf ears to the horrific pains and despair impacting the general population. The simple fact is that some of the key government officials were instigators and participants in such barbaric behavior. They had personal connections in high places, which made it impossible for them to be exposed to the public. Those were the heydays of the now decadent True Whig Party.
And the lesson from history is the biblical precept: Make sure your sin will find you out. And like we say in Liberia, “99 days for rogue, one day for master.”
So came the time when heart men could not get protection from high places. The killing of a poor fisherman—Moses Tweh–in Harper, Maryland, exposed the likes of James D. Anderson, Superintendent of Maryland; Allen Yancy, member of the House of Representatives from Maryland County and son of disgraced Vice President Allen Yancy; Moses Seton, Wleh Taryonnoh and all other middlemen involved in the disappearance and murder of Moses Tweh. After they were tried and found guilty, they were put to death by hanging.
At the end of the 1980s, disappearances again resurfaced. This time, the victims were professional men. Each victim murdered was suspected of being either a political opponent of the government or perceived to be a supporter of opposition. No ritual purpose was suspected here.
Fast forward to the war and beyond. People were killed either because of their ethnicity or because they had been government employees.
During the time of the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU), rebels’ killing of civilians and dissenting fighters became common in the streets and neighborhoods of IGNU controlled areas.
The police, under the command of Brownie Samukai, set up a special unit called Rapid Response UNIT. This was an elite unit which helped crack down criminals and stopped the wave of killings and burglaries in the town.
Few other mysterious deaths plagued the nation during the Ellen Johnson and the current George Weah administrations. The suspicious deaths of Michael Allison and Harry Greaves during the Ellen era as well as those of the four auditors from the Liberia Revenue Authority stand out. Why and how those well-meaning compatriots died remain mindboggling. Their killers have not been identified, or are efforts actually being made to apprehend the perpetrators of those dastardly acts?
But the trauma of such murders lives in the minds of the public. Added to that are the sightings of corpses in different communities in and around Monrovia in recent weeks with parts allegedly missing. A girl peddling a small market was found with feet and hands tied in an unfinished building in Monrovia. Her mouth also choked with clothes. Another man allegedly said he escaped from his captors and that he witnessed the murder of a boy who was in captivity with him.
To the contrary, the senior brass of the Liberia National Police have characteristically downplayed these reports and blamed the opposition political parties of instilling fears in the public to besmear the image of the government.
Really? It’s scary. If nothing else, the police authority’s response is further undermining the peoples’ trust in the security apparatus for protection. It is a flagrant disregard for history.
The police further said the corpses found around the city were dumped by relatives who could not afford to bury their dead family members. Isn’t that an insane assertion? The police’s continuous denial of ritual killings may encourage more deaths, because those murderous knuckleheads might perceive such irrational denials as a license to further kill. It may only exacerbate public panic as to where their country is headed.
There are two interesting facts why ritual killing is possible currently in Liberia. The first is the looming elections in 2023. Government positions are the most lucrative in terms of pay and perks, both official and unofficial. Most offices, without initiating programs in their sectors, bring zero balance forward at the end of the fiscal year. What have they done? There is no accountability.
The second is the unrestricted borders and weak security system. You can pass with anything, good or bad at the ports of entry/exit without problem. Just have your bribes in U.S. dollars ready and then literally anything is possible. With demand for human parts such as kidneys, surging in different parts of the world, including some neighboring countries, human parts marketers could be paying people to kidnap, kill and harvest parts for the buyers.
Like the man who escaped from his kidnappers at night, he said he overheard captors receiving US$12,000 as pay from the person who ordered them to seek and kill humans for their parts, like buying old, scrapped materials.
The third simply makes no sense. For example, why would people kill an immigration officer? Why would a man who is peacefully living pursuing happiness and serving God be murder; such as William R. Tolbert,III, son of assassinated President of Liberia? What has the son of former Liberian President Tubman be killed in cold blood? And the government is silent.
Our security system is fragile. Anything is possible.
This is why the police need to step up to investigate every piece of information about missing person and suspicious death. To merely brush aside reports of mysterious deaths does not help to boost confidence in the integrity of the security sector. Its net effect is to drive potential investors away. People planning to attend the bi-centennial celebrations in Monrovia, will also be scared away by these sad events.
In times like these, as in the late seventies, police need to act on every lead to find perpetrators of ritual killing in order to stamp out this evil act, so that people are safe to live in peace and go about their normal business. On the contrary, Police Director Patrick Sudue, sitting stone-faced in denial and then threatening a few law-abiding citizens, who are currently mustering the courage to divulge pieces of information about such heinous crimes, instead of encouraging people to convey more tips to the police, reeks of the obnoxious ineptitude and do-nothing syndrome that are spiraling Liberia into developmental doldrums.
Joe Teh, author of this article is Chief Content Officer of a U.S.-based online Magazine “lib-variety.org. He was also former News editor of the New Democrat, and Chief News editor of Star radio up to its closure by the Charles Taylor government on March 15, 2001. He now lives in Springfield, Mass. Joe Teh, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The unrest in Liberia continues and even gets to a higher, organized, level. On Tuesday, October 5, a civil society organization, Citizens United Against Ritual Killing (CURK), staged a peaceful protest against the alleged wave of ritual murders across the country. The Liberian National Police continues to downplay the allegations though it admitted that at least one ritual murder had taken place.
A worrying trend is the arrest of a Facebook user, Jethro Harris, who was accused of ‘inciting disorder and chaos’ because of a post about an alleged ritual murder. Harris’ arrest comes in the aftermath of accusations by government officials that members of opposition parties are responsible for spreading ‘fake news’.
Ritual murders, which are a violation of the right to live and to live without fear, have thus become another threat: an attack on the freedom of speech, the freedom of expression. Hence the arrest of Jethro Harris, a supporter of the Alternative National Congress – one of a coalition of four political parties opposing the ruling CDC, Congress for Democratic Change – has added another dimension to the politicization of the phenomenon of ritual murders in Liberia: a battlefield between ruling and opposition political parties (webmaster FVDK).
Citizens protest against mysterious death
Published: October 6, 2021 By: Lincoln G. Peters – The New Dawn, Liberia
Several residents of Monrovia under the banner Citizens United Against Ritualistic Killing (CURK) staged a peaceful protest Tuesday 5 October 2021 against the alarming wave of alleged ritualistic killings across the country.
According to the group, the current increase in the wave of ritualistic killings across the country is alarming, adding that there is no safety and protection for citizens in the country.
The Liberian National Police says reports of increase ritualistic killings here are fake news being propagated by the opposition.
But speaking in an interview with journalists at the protest scene in Bassa Community in Monrovia, the group’s spokesperson and chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Solidarity Brigade Byron Brown said their peaceful protest was meant to call the attention of the world to the alarming wave of alleged ritualistic killings across the country.
“The Government of President [George Manneh] Weah continues to show little or no interest in finding [a] solution to the problem and fear that is in citizens,” Byron Brown alleged.
Contrary to Brown’s allegation, the Liberian Government is blaming members of the opposition parties here for spreading fake news surrounding reports of ritualistic killings in the country.
Reports of killing for the past weeks have taken the country by storm, followed by social media posts that petrified the public with gruesome photos and testimonies of killings taking place in the country.
But in their reaction, the Liberian authorities say two ladies and a man launched podcasts on Facebook in which they explained they were seized from different locations, taken to woods, and escaped death at the hands of their captors.
But Byron insisted that since the ascendancy of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to the leadership of the country, there have been uncontrollable waves of alleged mysterious disappearances, kidnapping, and ritualistic deaths in the country.
“These things have [a] negative impact on the country and economy. This action today is void of politics and we are doing this to save our country and open it up to international investment and economic progress,” Brown claimed.
He denounced as disingenuous to the country and its people, Liberia National Police (LNP Inspector General Col. Patrick T. Suede’s claim that there is only one ritualistic death in the country, alleging instead that are ten reported ritualistic deaths across the country.
“We are going to our Legislature, the United States Embassy near Monrovia and we will petition them to call their attention to what is happening in the country that [the] government continues to give deaf ears to,” Brown continued.
“We are living in total fear in our country. Our peace and security are not sure. We are standing up for what we believe will liberate our country and secure international investors’ confidence to help our economy grow,” he added.
Byron noted that peaceful protest is expected to last for a week until the Government of Liberia can respond to their plight and assure their security and protection in the country.
The Monrovia City Court on Monday, October 4,2021 jailed Jethro S. K. Harris, a stalwart of the Alternative Nation Congress (ANC) for allegedly spreading ‘False Public Alarm’ through his Facebook post.
On Monday, September 27, 2021, Defendant Jethro Harris posted a photo of the late Ms. Rolisa N. Gbeintor, a Liberian and alumnae of the Lenn Miller High School in Sinkor, Monrovia along with a graphic, claiming that it was the body of the late Gbeintor with parts extracted from her body.
Harris was arrested last week in Nimba County while on a tour with fellow partisans and political leader, Alexander B. Cummings. According to the police charge sheet, defendant Harris was invited for questioning but did not show up.
“Investigation established that Ms. Gbeintor got sick for a protracted period and subsequently died, that defendant Harris willingly, purposely and intentionally did the post so as to buttress falsehood already being circulated by some persons to be identified that the country is unsafe,” the LNP said.
“In view of the foregoing, the investigation herewith charges Harris with the commission of the crime ‘False Public Alarms in Violation of chapter 17, section 17.4 of the revised penal law pending trial by the court of competent jurisdiction,” the police said. “In cognizance of article 12 (b) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, defendant Jethro was arrested and subsequently informed of his Miranda rights.”
The police added that the post by defendant Harris does not have any Iota of truth and was intended to instigate citizens and persons residing in the country against the National Security apparatus, create economic hardships, and stall the movement of peaceful people. The police also said Harris’s post creates the impression that “investors closing down their business and leaving the country.”
The police believe that Article 15 (a) of the 1986 Constitution provides that every person shall have the right to freedom of expression but also reminds citizens they are fully responsible for abuse thereof.
Of late, reported cases of ritual killings and survivors’ stories have been on the rise. In Caldwell, for instance, a lifeless body of a lady was discovered with body parts extracted, same as with, to create, the Soul Clinic community. The victim this time around was a male.
But for police authorities, pictures and videos about ritualistic incidents are not a representation of what is unfolding in the country. The police added that they were posted to instill fear in the citizens and to tarnish the image of the country and raise false national security alerts. Police then warned those involved in orchestrating a negative image about the country to desist or face the full weight of the law. The arrest of Jethro is reportedly the first by the police days after warning against the spread of fake news about an issue that has to do with a mysterious death.
For the ANC, Harris committed no crime and broke no law or violates the Penal code of Liberia. Rather, his Facebook post is a protected speech under the Liberian Constitution (Article 15) and under Constitutional Law.
“Sections 12.33 and 17.4 of the Penal Code do not fit into Jethro’s post. He did not falsely post about an IMPENDING bombing or other crime as required by 17.4; neither did he report to any law enforcement official as required by 12.33. He simply posted on his Facebook page,” argued ANC Secretary General Aloysius Toe.
Toe added Jethro’s post was a recreation of an alleged gruesome act of ritualistic killing, even if false and untrue, that has been making rounds on social media; and may have reasonably believed that what he came across on social media, coupled with massive public outcry about ritualistic killings, and thus recreated on his Facebook page, was intended only to draw public attention.
“He alleged that an act had already been committed, he didn’t say the act was impending (about to happen) as required by Section 17.4 of the Penal Code. The charges against him are bogus and politically motivated,” the ANC said. “This is a CDC government clamp down on the opposition, using a rather professional police force to carry on partisan policing.”
The ANC Secretary General added Jethro was only targeted and falsely arrested and falsely imprisoned because of his association with the opposition community, and in particular, Alexander B. Cummings.
“Police IG Patrick Sudue knows and should have reason to know that he’s proceeding wrongly and illegally by ordering the false arrest, and false imprisonment of Harris. There will be legal consequences. But Jethro Harris is spending 3 nights in a filthy police cell on bogus charges without investigation simply because of his root with an opposition political party. “
The ANC’s standard-bearer, Alexander B. Cummings, who has been making efforts to get Harris released, alleged that the entire case has been politicized. “This is a misdemeanor and the police sent a whole container of people to Nimba County to arrest this young man for exercising his right to free speech,” Mr. Cummings said.
Cummings, accompanied by his lawyer, had gone to the Monrovia City Court to bail out defendant Harris, only to be informed that Harris had been taken to the Monrovia Central Prison at South Beach.
“Today we showed up with his bond to have him bailed. He was taken to South Beach prison.” ANC political leader said. “This is a minor misdemeanor. It’s a bailable offense, but it has been politicized. We politicize the rule of law and we wonder why we are not getting investors.”
Mr. Cummings vowed to follow the court procedures. “We are a party of rule of law and we will follow the rules. If the judge doesn’t do the right thing, we will go to the Supreme court,” he said.
Recently there have been several mysterious killings in and around Monrovia, including two women and an elderly man. Police Inspector General, Patrick Sudue, said people were posting these pictures to instill fear among citizens and present the country as though it is unsafe.
“People are portraying the gloomy image of the country as though it is not safe,” he said. LNP have earlier warned that people caught posting dead pictures on social media to cause fear among the citizenry without investigating will be arrested.
Opposition Alternative National Congress’ Youth Official lands in jail for ‘Inciting’ Facebook post
Published: October 6, 2021 By: Joyclyn Weah – Front Page Africa, Liberia
MONROVIA – A stalwart of the Youth League of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), Jethro Saylah Kangar Harris, has been jailed for allegedly circulating false content on social media.
Suspect Jethro Harris was forwarded to the Monrovia City Court on Monday for onward prosecution after being charged by the Liberia National Police (LNP) with the commission of the crime of false public alarms in violation of chapter 17, section 17.4 of the revised Penal Law of Liberia.
On Saturday, the police claimed that suspect Harris posted on his Facebook page, a picture of a young lady he identified as Rolisa N. Gbeintor, a Liberian and alumnae of the Len Miller High School in Sinkor, Monrovia. He placed a corpse that appeared to have gone under post mortem examinations alongside the picture, claiming it was Rolisa’s body and that she has been killed and body parts extracted for ritualistic purposes.
On his Facebook page, he reportedly wrote:
I’m in tears tonight.
It’s so painful how the young people of Liberia are dying mysteriously…
This is the late Rolisa N. Gbeintor, an alumnae of the Len Millar High School…
She was murdered and parts of her body were extracted.
His post immediately caught the attention of the LNP and they launched an investigation to establish its veracity.
Harris was on invited by the LNP for questioning but did not turn out; stating that he was in Ganta, Nimba County. A team of LNP officers headed by assistant commissioner Alphonso A. Paypay, headed to Nimba County on Friday, October 1, and arrested Suspect Harris for “spreading false information to the Liberian public and the world at-large; thus committing the crime false public alarm.”
The police charge sheet claimed that Harris’ post which is established to be unfounded, is also intended to create economic hardship and the likelihood of investors closing down their businesses and leaving the country.
The post, the police maintained, is intended to stall movement of peaceful residents. The document noted that the suspect ‘willingly, purposely and intentionally’ did the Facebook post so as to buttress falsehood already being circulated by some unidentified people that the country is unsafe.
The Police wrote in their charge sheet that the post, which do not have any iota of truth is also intended to put some of citizens and persons residing within Liberia’s borders against the national security apparatus, scare away investors and some people intended to travel to Liberia.
The ANC has condemned the Police action against its partisan, and said it is in gross violation of his constitutional rights.
Article 15 (A) of the Constitution of Liberia provides that every person shall have the right to freedom of expression. However, it adds that they should be held responsible for the abuse of such freedom.
The ANC political leader, Mr. Alexandra Cummings, swam by party executives and supporters, stormed the courtyard but were prevented from securing the release of the suspect, even though the crime he is charged with, is a billable offense.
Speaking to reporters minutes after suspect Harris was taken to the South Beach by heavily guarded armed police officers, Mr. Cummings said that a bond to have their partisan release was made available, but the judge insisted on taking the defendant to jailed.
Cummings termed as unfortunate and unfair, the government’s action against his partisan, noting that government is not being helpful and cooperative by punishing suspect Harris for a social media post.
He further indicated that the judiciary should not be politicized.
“We got to give the judges the freedom to interpret the laws. This is not how we want to run our Judiciary and not how we want to run the country and for the manner of misdemeanor this whole thing is being politicized.” According to him, ANC is an opposition party of law, and as such they will follow the law and ensure that Harris is released.
Monrovia – The Assistant Secretary General of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), jailed at the Monrovia Central Prison over alleged false public alarm and false statement, was freed on bail on Wednesday amid intense pressure from his party and the campus-based Vanguard Students Unification Party.
Jethro Harris, who had spent four days in prison over a Facebook post in which he alarmed about the ritualistic killing of his ‘friend’, was charged in violation of section 17.4 of the revised Panel Code of Liberia.
His lawyers Atty. Lafayette Gould, Atty. Aloysius Toe and Cllr. Findley Karngar call the charges frivolous. The three lawyers had filed Summary Proceedings against Magistrate Joma Jallah for reportedly refusing to approve their client’s appearance bond after Circuit Judge Roosevelt Willie had heard the petition and ordered Magistrate Jallah to approve the bond in keeping with law.
However, more than 24 hours after said mandate, the magistrate later released the defendant to his lawyers Wednesday on bail.
Following his release, Cllr. Toe told journalists that Harris was imprisoned for standing against injustice, adding that said his client is now a free man and will remain free.
However, he noted that the legal battle surrounding Harris’s allegation is expected to take place Friday, noting that no amount it intimidation will make those who are speaking against ills in the country keep silent.
“No no amount of witch-hunt, attempt and decision and no amount of scare tactic will make us to keep silent, neither will the ANC be scare to stand up for a cause,” Cllr. Toe says.
He described the action of Defendant Harris as a “passive resistance”, which he believes is in the right direction.“If any of you will have a sad experience of going to jail because you believe in what is right, and on the account you are arrested, tell other people to stand up for the same thing and let them be arrested, Cllr. Toe says.