Warning: the following story’s graphic content and photo may upset the reader.
One of Liberia’s best and most reliable newspapers, FrontPageAfrica, yesterday published a harrowing and scaring report on an attempted kidnapping, presumably for ritualistic purposes. It all happened in Paynesville, Greater Monrovia, Montserrado County, around 3:00 a.m. last Thursday, September 21.
When hearing or reading about alleged or attempted ritualistic murders I am always wary of the danger of jumping too soon to conclusions. But certain details of the story which the aimed victim Sherman Cooper tells us are very realistic: the black, unmarked car, a Nissan Pathfinder, the way he managed to escape from his agressors, as observed by an eyewitness, and above all his wounds, the cutting marks around his neck and another on his genitals. Moreover, and the author of the article, Lennart Dodoo, also mentions this explicitly, it is election time in Liberia: ‘Ritualistic killings during elections are not a new phenomenon in Liberia.’
It sounds unreal, in the 21st century, but we cannot close our eyes for the at times brutal reality. Investigations into real or alleged ritual killings very often fizzle out in Liberia, reportedly because of the alleged, suspected or real involvement of ‘big shots’ (politicians, high-ranking government officials or other highly-placed Liberians) – similar to investigations into alleged or real corruption.
We’ll see whether we ever hear more about this case… (webmaster FVDK)
Liberia: Man Narrowly Escapes Attempted Ritualistic Murder; Brother Abducted by Kidnappers, Still Missing
Published: September 27, 2023 By: Lennart Dodoo – FrontPageAfrica, Liberia
MONROVIA – Saved by an act of bravery but severely wounded, Sherman Cooper, a victim of an alleged kidnapping and attempted ritualistic killing, now wonders about the whereabouts of his brother, Michael, whom the alleged kidnappers escaped with.
Sherman jumped out of the black, unmarked speeding Nissan Pathfinder, which had given him and his brother a lift from Paynesville, near the Fabulous opposite Bethesda.
FrontPageAfrica has confirmed that Sherman is currently receiving medical attention at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center’s trauma unit.
Some residents of the area and eyewitnesses say the unmarked black Nissan Pathfinder is often seen patrolling the VOA area in Paynesville.
An eyewitness who was driving behind the speeding SUV said he saw Sherman jump out of the moving vehicle. He said the kidnappers looked foreign and suspected them of being Burkinabe.
In a video seen by FrontPageAfrica, Sherman, who was stark naked and bloody, is seen with cutting marks around his neck and another on his genitals. He also sustained severe injuries on his knee, head, forehead, back, buttock, and thigh.
He is heard wailing, “I’m in pain, oh, I’m in pain, oh. Y’all help me. They carried my brother. They’re going to kill my brother. Y’all, please carry me to the hospital.”
He added, “The people put the windshield [glass] up, I fought. The passenger seat behind [extra cabin seat in the trunk] and two people were sitting behind we didn’t know. When we sat, that’s when they… I said ooh they want to kill us.”
FrontPageAfrica learned that the police and security authorities have been interrogating Sherman as the whereabouts of Michael remain unknown.
According to the eyewitness who saw Sherman jumping down from the car, he stopped his car and observed when he saw Sherman jump from the car. “He started crawling towards me, crying ‘Please help me, please help me,’” he explained.
This happened around Rehab.
According to the eyewitness, the incident occurred at about 3:30 a.m. last Thursday. In his narrative, he said Sherman and his brother were supposed to alight at Rehab, but as the vehicle approached Rehab, it increased its speed, and that’s when Sherman and his brother started fighting.
“The guys put a rope around their necks. They had two guys in the back seat, so they put a rope around their necks, and they started fighting. But he was fighting for his life, so he managed to hold on to the glass, and they tried to put the glass up, but his hands were already between the glass, so he managed to pull the glass down with strength while they were concentrating on taking off his private part, and he managed to jump through the window while they were at the junction,” the eyewitness explained.
Ritualistic killings during elections are not a new phenomenon in Liberia. In 2021, a UN human rights expert called on the government to investigate a series of killings that have occurred this year, some of which have reportedly been linked to ritualistic practices.
At least 10 people were killed in unclear circumstances in December 2021, including five in September, reportedly with suspected links to ritualistic practices or political motivations.
Last week, Dr. Alan W. White, Co-Executive Director of the Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights, delivered a compelling testimony before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, addressing the pressing issue of ritualistic killings in Africa, with a particular focus on Liberia. Dr. White shed light on the Foundation’s mission to combat human rights violations, including ritualistic killings and the alarming allegations linking these acts to high-ranking government officials, including the Executive Mansion.
In his testimony, Dr. White detailed the challenges faced in gathering information and conducting investigations into ritualistic killings, emphasizing the danger faced by sources who dare to speak out against these crimes.
Dr. White’s testimony also touched upon recent cases of ritualistic killings in Liberia, such as the mysterious disappearance of three young men hired for a task in Bong County in October 2020 by the St. Moses Funeral Home. The bodies of these young men were never returned to their families, and investigations into their deaths remain unresolved, raising suspicions of involvement by influential individuals with close government ties.
“The Foundation has received disturbing information about the frequency of such killings and the allegations linking it to the Executive Mansion (The Office of the President) and other high-ranking government officials. Details of these atrocities are difficult to obtain,” he said.
He also linked the past regime to acts of ritualistic killings, saying, “The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration during her 12 years (2006-2018) in office was plagued with ritual killings, and despite vows to bring them to an end, they continued. The same problems continue under the Weah administration, and unlike Sirleaf, there were no insiders reporting her direct involvement with the ritual killings.”
There’s not much to add without risking repeating myself. Let me just briefly mention what I consider the triple motive of the perpetrator(s): first, to intimidate the bystander, the perceived enemy; secondly, to make clear that he, the actor, is the strongest, the conquerer, and thirdly, without doubt, there is a religious or superstitious drive, a belief in the supernatural powers of eating the heart of the enemy. Notably the latter motive makes it a ritualistic act, and murder, a despicable crime.
The 2009 report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) includes many examples of ritualistic acts committed during the back-to-back civil wars (1989-2003). For reasons only known to herself, President Sirleaf (2006-2018) never implemented the TRC recommendations including the prosecution of the rebel leaders responsible for war crimes and human rights violations, possibly because she was also recommended for a sanction because of her (admitted) support of the NPLF, the rebel organization which started the civil war in 1989. Also President Weah (2018 – present) decided not to start procedures establishing a war crimes court, backtracking on previous statements when still in opposition.
The result is impunity for the perpetrators. Injustice. An insult to the survivors and victims.
Liberians will go to the polls on October 10 to elect a president, vice president and 88 lawmakers. The incumbent president, George Weah, has shown his position when it comes to justice for the victims and survivors. His main challengers are a former Vice President under President Sirleaf, Joseph Boakai, from Lofa County, whose running mate is a political protégé of warlord-turned-senator Prince Johnson – yes, the rebel commander who in 1990 gave his men orders to torture and kill then President Samuel Doe – and Alexander Cummings, who has promised to establish a war crimes tribunal when elected into the highest office.
We’ll closely watch events in Liberia during the coming month(s). (FVDK)
Chopped up with an axe and a heart eaten out: some crimes never die
Published: September 13, 2023 By: Alain Werner – Civitas Maxima
Exactly 30 years ago, in the summer of 1993, a group of rebel soldiers sowed unheard-of terror in the town of Foya, in the small West African country of Liberia, then ravaged by civil war.
Here, 450 kilometers north of the capital Monrovia, a pious man respected by his community had the courage to denounce the rebel group that occupied the premises, ULIMO (United Liberation Movement of Democracy for Liberia). He did so to a humanitarian group, and told them that ULIMO was responsible for the looting of a hospital financed by humanitarian aid.
Once the foreigners had left, the pious man was taken to what was then used as an airstrip and his thorax was cut out by the rebels, his heart extracted and eaten in front of the population. “Try ULIMO, your heart” – which could be translated as “Defy ULIMO, we’ll take your heart” – was one of the slogans used to terrorize the population, a slogan that some civilians who survived that inferno still remember.
The most bloodthirsty of the ULIMO commanders, who opened the pious man’s chest with an axe and spread his killing spree to Foya, was known by the war nickname of “Ugly Boy”, despite his handsome features. The local population, who spoke a different dialect than the ULIMO soldiers, had nicknamed this commander differently among themselves, so as to be able to alert each other to his arrival without being understood by the rebels. They called him “Saah Chuey”, or “the man with the axe” in the Kissi language, as this commander was famous for chopping up civilians with his axe.
“Ugly Boy” was never tried for his ignominious deeds. Indeed, legend has it that he died by popular vindication, having been recognized in Guinea by refugees who had fled Liberia. However, if he were still alive today, “Ugly Boy” would still not have been tried in Liberia.
Indeed, in August we will be celebrating 20 years since the end of the wars in this country, and yet no one has been tried by a court in the country; the government and the United Nations having done nothing for the forgotten victims of Liberia. Despite the fact that a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended in 2009 that the main players in the war should be brought to justice, and that at least 250,000 people lost their lives during these bloody conflicts between 1989 and 2003.
However, on Thursday June 1, 2023, the Federal Criminal Court of Appeal in Switzerland convicted a man, Alieu Kosiah, of participating in the axe murder of the Pious Man. Jurisdiction was given in our country because Mr. Kosiah had been resident in Lausanne since the late 1990s. The conviction came exactly 30 years after the events, and was handed down in Bellinzona, seat of the Federal Criminal Court, some 7,000 kilometers from the scene of the crimes, Foya.
Alieu Kosiah had already been convicted in June 2021 by the Criminal Court for multiple acts of war crimes, including having eaten a piece of the pious man’s heart in the company of “Ugly Boy”. At the time, however, he was found not guilty of the axe-murder, the first judges considering that he had not played an active role in this crime.
The appeal judges decided otherwise and sentenced Alieu Kosiah for complicity in the murder of the pious man, an act qualified as a war crime and a crime against humanity. During the reading of the verdict, the President of the Court, Olivier Thormann, explained that, according to the Court, Alieu Kosiah had handed the pious man over to “Ugly Boy” to be taken to the Foya airstrip, knowing full well what would happen next.
This appeal judgment marks Swiss legal history, as it is the very first conviction in our country for crimes against humanity. It now opens the way for prosecutions in Switzerland for such crimes, even if committed before 2011 and the entry into force of the new provisions of the penal code.
As a lawyer and Director of Civitas Maxima, since 2014 I have represented several Liberian victims in this case alongside Me Romain Wavre, including a friend of the pious man who was present at the scene and witnessed his ordeal, having himself been a victim of ULIMO crimes.
Our clients and other victims have shown exceptional resilience, dignity and courage. Most of them came to Switzerland three times to testify throughout the proceedings, and overcame the obstacles posed by the Ebola epidemic in 2014-2015 and the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-2021 to finally obtain justice.
War crimes and crimes against humanity are unique in that they “never die”. Indeed, because they concern the international community as a whole, these offences are not extinguished by a statute of limitations after a certain number of years, as is the case for most ordinary crimes. Prosecutions for war crimes and crimes against humanity are thus theoretically possible as long as the person accused of committing them is alive and evidence exists, theoretically even if the victims are all dead. Just as the forgotten victims of Liberia obtained justice in Switzerland in 2023 for crimes committed so far away in 1993, victims of international crimes committed during current or recent armed conflicts must never lose hope. Even if we must do everything to ensure that they obtain justice before 2053 for the crimes they have suffered.
The article first appeared in French on Heidi News on the 16th of July, 2023.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The recent surge in ritualistic killings in Liberia (see my previous posts, September 30, and October 1) has provoked many reactions including the comments presented below. The Liberian author, J. Patrick Flomo, relates ritual killings to elections and the involvement of high-ranking people, politicians and others (in Liberia called ‘big shots’), who often protect the ‘boyos’ or ‘heartmen’ who have actually carried out the dirty work – which explains the ‘impunity’.
Why is the belief in the power of ‘juju’ obtained by human sacrifice so persistent in Liberia (and other countries, as demonstrated by other country pages of the present site)? Aren’t we living in the 21st century? There is no place for these heinous crimes in a modern society.
Published: October 3, 2021 By: J. Patrick Flomo – The Perspective, Atlanta/Georgia
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for the I the Lord they God am a jealous God…” Exodus 20: 3 & 5
The lack of strong condemnation from the government on this wanton human abomination demonstrates the degree of the moral bankruptcy of this government. And the dearth of public outrage and outcry for justice (especially from the religious community that proclaims to be the custodian or the fountain of our morality) is a manifestation that our moral compass and sense of humanity is pointing not toward the North Star, but to the abyss of vile and human wantonness. This should not be happening in the 21st century of human civilization.
Webster defines ritual murder as the sacrificial slaying of a human as a propitiatory offering to a deity. It is confounding that in this age of advanced human “civilization” full of cosmopolitanism, education, and technological wonders, barbaric human sacrificial practices are still exercised in Liberia among a certain segment of society — mainly, the politicians.
This abominable practice within Liberian society is motivated by lust for power and wealth. In Liberia, the path to power, wealth, and affluence is to seek first “the political kingdom,” not hard work and the sweat of thy brow as found in Genesis 3:19: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken…” This insidious craving for power and wealth has warped some Liberian politicians so that they plunge into the pit of human depravity. In the post-war era, corpses have turned up missing eyes, tongues, and other parts, particularly during election season. Liberians associate these killings with political elites, who are said to use the parts in rituals that they think will give them a spiritual edge in winning an election or receiving a promotion. In late 2015, the United Nations released a human rights report about Liberia that devoted an entire chapter to the issue. In response, Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s outgoing president, admitted that ritual killings were on the rise and vowed to “bring this ugly situation under immediate control.” (www.guernicamag.com/).
Ritualistic killings have been part of Liberia’s political culture for decades. We all have known it for years yet have not collectively fought vigorously to stop it. Ritual sacrifices usually spike during presidential and legislative elections. In 2023, we will have presidential and legislative elections. It’s no wonder the spike in ritual killings. Human sacrifices have been part of our history as a species. But with the advent of the Enlightenment in Europe (the age of reason and empirical scientific revolution), human sacrifice was shown to have no substantive value and was immoral and antithetical to reason and logic. By the end of the enlightenment period, human sacrifice had waned in most of Europe and around the world; however, two centuries later, it is still practiced illegally in Liberia but with impunity because the perpetrator/s is rarely brought to justice.
I find it extremely confounding and incredulous that Liberian society, especially the government, seems to have a benign acceptance of these depraved and abominable acts. These acts should cause moral outrage among Liberians everywhere around the globe. But wretchedly and shockingly, that is not the case. For example, the horrific case of a very young woman killed with all inner organs missing should have all Liberians apoplectic and demanding that the government find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. NO! We are all silent at home and in the diasporas. This is a societal travesty of unprecedented proportion committed by us all. Liberia is awash in a proliferation of churches. It seems the country is in a vast religious awakening, and yet such demonic practices are not vigorously condemned.
When a former Methodist minister decided to run for county superintendent, court papers charge, he tried to add special ingredients to the campaign. The candidate, David K. Clarke, and three politically ambitious friends ”agreed to kidnap and murder a human being to obtain body parts after having consulted with a native witch doctor.” A few days later, Liberian newspapers reported, two small boys were found dead on a riverbank. Mr. Clarke and five other men were arrested and charged with ritual murder. Decades of preaching in churches and mosques have failed to eradicate West Africa’s feared practice of ”juju” or ”harsh medicine.” Practiced by ”boyos” or ”heartmen,” human sacrifice for individual advancement is often reported in newspapers in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria (New York Times: Monday, May 4, 1987).
While the world is struggling to attain a perfect human civilization, Liberia seems to be regressing into the abyss of human degradation and darkness. This act of barbarity in 2021 is a classic case that should cause all Liberians in the diasporas to call their various embassies for an answer and urge the government to end this abomination in Liberia. Incredulously, that is not happening. Is there any act of human abomination or barbarism that will provoke the Liberian people to anger and hold their government accountable? If this gruesome depiction of this dead young girl does not anger Liberians everywhere, then I question if Liberians really have souls or a conscience.
Yesterday’s post on the alleged recent surge in ritual murders in Liberia and the spike in mysterious deaths is continued today with a cry from a Liberian journalist and pro-child advocate, Fahnie S. Kollie. The author cries for an intervention, be it from local, Liberian authorities, or the international community, to stop the seemingly endless killing of innocent civilians, men, women, children, for ritualistic purposes.
Read her story and plea for help. And – to use Fahnie Kollie’s words: Let’s act together. Either now or never!
Another Liberian who has raised his voice against the silence of President Weah over the wave of ritualistic killings across Monrovia and other parts of the country is Dr. Daniel Cassell.
Dr. Daniel Cassell is the Vision Bearer of the newly certificated People’s Liberation Party (PLP), and also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/President of the Dr. Cassell’s Humanitarian Foundation, and Kwenyan Security Firm, operating in Liberia.
I wish to congratulate Fahnie Kollie and Daniel Cassell here for their statements and public intervention. Whereas I commend them, notably for their plea for respect of human rights and their cry for an end to these senseless murders, it is nonetheless important to note that some allegations of ritualistic activities have not been proven even though – it cannot be said enough – every ritualistic murder is one too much. Liberia, unfortunately, has a long history and notorious record when it comes to ritual killings, mysterious deaths, witchcraft and superstition. Previous posts bear ample testimony to this observation.
Warning: some readers may find the graphic details of the description cited disturbing (webmaster FVDK).
Liberia: A Horror Movie – How Did We Get Here?
Published: September 29, 2021 By: Fahnie S. Kollie – The Perspective, Atlanta/Georgia
Liberia has been known to be a peaceful and calm country since the end of the civil war in August 2003. In fact, it is often referred to as a Sweet Land of Liberty. But is this maxim or aphorism still true today?
Mysterious deaths and ritualistic killings were visible during President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s administration. But why has it drastically increased during this administration? Why now and what’s going on? After the ascendency of ex-Soccer Legend George M. Weah in 2018, Liberians were promised and reassured of a better and safer Liberia; A Liberia where women and children would feel protected and secured; One where the press would be free and citizens would not be haunted because of their individual stance on issues or political affiliation.
A Liberia where the rule of law would be respected and justice would be equally discharged/dispensed to all regardless of status, religion, ethnicity, and background. One that puts the security, safety, and wellbeing of the citizens above all other national priorities.
We weren’t promised a Liberia of terror, horror, and fear as it is being seen today. President Weah’s inaugural speech 4 years ago gave many Liberians renewed hope and assurance of a new Liberia, but are we experiencing that new Liberia? Just few months into Mr. Weah’s Presidency, things began to go the opposite. A big corruption scandal broke out; the infamous alleged missing 16 billion LRD.
After the release of a damning report surrounding this saga which established that over 2 billion LRD was unaccounted for, two Liberian professionals who were declared persons of interest in the investigation mysteriously died. Mr. Matthew J. Innis who was the Deputy Director for Micro-Finance in the Regulation and Supervision Department at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) died in an alleged hit-and-run in March 2019.
According to FrontPage Africa, another employee identified as Mr. Kollie Ballah, a general support staff at the CBL, who was believed to be the one that drove one of the trucks with the LD 16 billion from the Freeport, also died in an accident. What seemed like a week’s thing would soon turn into a never ending nightmare for Liberians.
This was the start of another terrifying episode of mysterious deaths, continued disappearances, and ritualistic killings under the leadership of the newly-elected President, George M. Weah. A year later on October 2, 2020, Mrs. Gifty Lama, Acting Manager of Tax Services at the LRA and Mr. Albert Peters, Assistant Commissioner for Internal Audit at LRA were found dead in a vehicle on Broad Street in Monrovia. Two days later, another auditor of the LRA, Mr. George Fahnboto reportedly died in a vehicle accident along the 72nd Boulevard according to FPA. Still dealing with the mysterious deaths of these three auditors, on October 10, the Head of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), Emmanuel Barten Nyeswa, was also found dead in his compound along the 72nd boulevard.
The death of the four (4) auditors with in a period of two weeks sparked huge fear among Liberians who found themselves in the auditing field and every other sector. People could no longer feel safe to be in the streets at night. An autopsy was conducted and the results were released in November. This created mixed reaction among Liberians including family members of the deceased. At first, the mysterious deaths were just circulating among Liberian professionals especially those in government, but soon, this fearful tragedy extended to every Liberian in the country. A wave of mysterious disappearances and ritualistic killings took center stage in the country.
Shockingly, three boys who were hired by the Proprietor of the St. Moses Funeral Parlor went missing on October 17. Robert M. Blamo, Jr., Bobby S. Gbeanquoi, and Siafa G. Boimah reportedly drowned in a river in Bong County while returning home in canoe which allegedly capsized. Mr. Moses Ahossoushe was accused by some family members of the missing boys of being involved in ritualistic killings but he denied the claim. This incident led to series of protests organized by family members and other concerned Liberians. Up till now, this matter has not been fully resolved.
After a devastating 2020, Liberians expected a boost of security in 2021 to ensure that these mysterious incidences are minimized. Unfortunately, the situation got worse. On March 2, 2021, FPA reported that the body of a woman who was gruesomely murdered was discovered in the 72nd community in Paynesville. According to the police spokesman, Moses Carter, the police was investigating the mysterious death of a 46-year-old woman identified as Florence Massaquoi. Prior to this, the lifeless body of a man believed to be in his 30s was also discovered in the Outland community near the Benson hospital.
Investigation into these cases were still ongoing when another case involving a 22-year-old boy identified as Mordecial Nyemah was reported. He was found in a rubber bush in Plebo Sodoken District with body parts extracted. These numerous cases of mysterious killings have rapidly increased over the past few months and it is alarming.
Just this month of September 2021, there have been several cases of kidnapping and killing of women and men with parts extracted from their bodies. An employee of the LRA reportedly went missing and is yet to be found. On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, the lifeless body of a woman was discovered on a beach on 17th street, Sinkor. The latest incident to occur was involving a woman believed to be in her early 40s. She was discovered dead and half-naked with bruises all over her body in Caldwell on Monday, September 27, 2021. All of these mysterious happenings coupled with the testimonies from some women, who were survivors of kidnapping/abduction for ritual purposes and the startling revelation made by former manager of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), have instilled fear in every citizen especially women. Madam Ellen Corkrum accused the Solicitor General of Liberia, Syrenius Cephus and others of being involved in the killing of young virgins for ritualistic purposes, but he denied the allegation.
With everything that is going on which I consider a “Horror Movie”, the fundamental question is “how did we get here”? How did Liberia get to this point? Liberians are no longer safe in their own country. Women and girls can no longer walk around freely without worrying about someone putting a white handkerchief to their nose or drugging their drink. We no longer feel safe riding a vehicle, a motorcycle, or a tricycle.
Borrowing the lyrics from the famous “Liar man” song sang by President Weah, “why are we being tracked down in our own country?” what did Liberians do to deserve this kind of terror and harassment? As though the massive corruption, bad economy, poor educational and healthcare system, appalling living conditions of the people, and the high level of sexual and gender-based violence perpetrated against women are not enough, Liberians are made to suffer painful and gruesome killings due to heartlessness and greed by evil people, some of whom have been entrusted with state power.
Instead of providing security for the people as duty-bearers, they are using the very power to kill people and go with impunity. The situation confronting Liberians is more like the common saying “adding insult to injury or ma die, pa crazy”. It can be recalled that Pres. Weah, speaking during the signing of the book of condolence for the former IAA boss informed Liberians to be their own security thus urging government officials and ordinary citizens to buy and install CCTV camera in their various homes for security protection.
But my question to the president is, did IAA boss not have CCTV camera at his house? He did but did it provide him security protection? No, it didn’t. Did Pres. Weah do a background check before making such statement? I don’t think so. How many Liberians can afford to install CCTV camera in their homes and even if some can afford, does Liberia have stable and accessible electricity to run the CCTV cameras? No.
Didn’t the president consider residents of Brewerville, Bensonville, Fendall, Careyburg, Johnsonville and Liberians in rural areas who don’t have electricity at all? I don’t think he did. How do you expect an old lady or an oldman in Butuo, Salayea, Belle Yala, Pleebo and other villages to operate CCTV cameras?
The situation in the country is horrible and unacceptable. Liberians don’t deserve this kind of terror and wickedness. In the 21 century, when other third world countries are keen on improving their country, coming up with new ideas and inventions, our country is still dealing with the issue of ritualistic killing. Are we serious? This madness must stop. President Weah and the entire joint security force need to take siege of this matter and put it under control once and for all.
Mr. President, you promised to uphold and defend the Constitution of this Republic and that Constitution guarantees every Liberian the right to life and security; therefore, you must ensure that you uphold and defend those rights. I don’t think this is the kind of Liberia you want. If that’s the case, than you must act now against ritualistic killing. The disappearances and killings must stop. Everyone has the right to Life, Liberty and Security of Person. The universal declaration of human rights guarantees that. So, no one has the right to deprive others of living. Mr. President, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Chief Justice, Hon. Daniel Ziakan, Hon. Prince C. Johnson, Col. Patrick Sudue, Cllr. Musa Dean and every other person in the government, we are calling on you to act now and ensure our sisters, mothers, brothers, fathers, and children are protected.
To our partners, the US Embassy, EU, ECOWAS, OAU, Civil society Organizations, and others, we are also calling on you to intervene in this matter. We must go beyond issuing statements and press releases. Let’s act together. Either now or never!
About The Author: Fahnie S. Kollie is a pro-child and pro-girl advocate. She is a senior student at the University of Liberia studying mass communication and an Honor Scholar of Lux-In-Tenebris Scholars Program. Fahnie is also a graduating senior of the Peter Quaqua School Of Journalism and a practicing journalist. Fahnie can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0775069741/0555589644
The Vision Bearer of the newly certificated People’s Liberation Party (PLP), Dr. Daniel E. Cassell, has expressed disappointment over the conspicuous silence of President George Manneh Weah over the growing wave of ritualistic killings across Monrovia and other parts of the country.
Liberians and other foreign residents in the country continue to wake up to news of the gruesome murder of citizens, especially women, in a communities around Montserrado County.
Parts are extracted from the remains of the victims by the unknown perpetrators, allegedly for ritualistic purposes. The body of a woman, only identified as Oretha, was discovered covered with banana leaves on a dusty road in Caldwell early this week. A day later, another corpse was found in a bush in the Soul Clinic community. Last week, the body of Mr. John Hilary Tubman, son of the late President William V.S. Tubman, was found in a pool of blood, badly beaten to death in his bedroom at his home in Fiamah, a suburb of Monrovia.
The current situation has instilled fear in Liberians and foreign residents, compelling them to return home from their various working and selling places earlier than before. Citizens are now observing a self-imposed curfew in the country to avoid encountering predators.
In a press statement issued in Monrovia on Wednesday, September 29, Dr. Cassell condemned the callous wave of ritualistic killings across the country by those he called “evil-minded individuals.”
He emphasized that besides the escalating media reports on the shameless murdering of fellow citizens for ritualistic purposes, he has also witnessed videos of individuals recounting horrifying stories of how they narrowly escaped death at the hands of these “predatory, ritualistic carnivores.”
“I have also heard a lady identified as Ellen Cockrum made striking revelations of ritualistic killings on various radio stations — linking top brass of the George Weah administration to ritualistic practices,” Dr. Cassell said.
Dr. Cassell maintained that despite the current situation in the country, nothing significant has been heard from the Liberian Chief Executive and other government officials to allay the fears that have gripped citizens and others.
“In the face of these impending tragic developments, I have not heard President Weah or his government officials say or do anything significant about this wave of carnage, to curb the crippling fear being instilled in the public.”
“It is disgusting and disgraceful that a government would stumble on its constitutional obligation to protect its citizens and supinely watch evil-minded men slaughter them in cold blood,” Dr. Cassell added.
Dr. Cassell further called on the government to take the appropriate steps in arresting the situation.
He said state security forces should “Aggressively hunt down these barbaric killers and bring them to justice.”
“I extend condolences to the bereaved families of all who have been murdered by these carnivores. If this scene of horror hasn’t claimed the attention of President George Weah and his government, I hope this statement draws their attention and causes them to expeditiously end the slaughtering of our people for ritualistic purposes”.
Meanwhile, Dr. Cassell has cautioned Liberians to be mindful while in the streets and commuting across Monrovia and other parts of the country. He, however, prayed for God’s grace and protection upon Liberia and its citizens in the wake of numerous challenges and the growing wave of secret and ritualistic killings that have engulfed the post-conflict nation in recent times.