Part III
Ritual killings continue to be a plague

       Freedom of fear is a human right
       Rule of law an obligation of the state

In 2010 ritual murders were reported in Lofa and Maryland   

Ritualistic killings pose threat to Maryland
The County of Maryland, situated close to the border with Ivory Coast in the Southeastern part of the Liberia, is said to be experiencing huge difficulties as a result of ritualistic (‘Gboyo’) activities that engulfed the county in recent times, even in time past.

Senior Senator John A. Ballout (...) said (....) “The city of Harper is calm and has been calm for the past two to three weeks; since the whole story erupted, there had never been any instance of disturbance; all of the news that people spread is mere exaggeration,” he emphasized. (...) the fact that the people of Maryland did not take the law into their hands by destroying property and causing unnecessary and uncalled-for problems does not mean that they are not less concerned about the wave of ritualistic occurrences in the county of their birth.

As Senator Ballout pointed out, the people of the county want to see an immediate end to all ritualistic activities in their county so that they can live in peace and enjoy unhindered and unimpeded security leverage.

“Well, the people of Maryland want this whole idea of ritualistic killings brought to an end; they want the killers arrested; they want justice to be done; they are so desperate about this that they on their own, having realized that Government through our Justice system, our police, had not been able to solve one ritualistic case, who have not been able to arrest any perpetrators, so are their frustrations,” he indicated.

However observers say residents of Maryland are right to call for a halt to ritualistic killings but reminded them of events of 1978 when permanent citizens of the county including former Superintendent James Anderson, Allen Yancy, Jr. Francis Seton, Tarnyennoh Wleh and many others were hanged for killing Kru singer and notorious fisherman, Moses Tweh.

Meanwhile, the Maryland County Senior Senator said about 12 persons out of the initial 18 people arrested when the incident was first unearthed have been released, with 7 persons released Sunday while additional 5 persons were released yesterday.

According to him, those released are not completely out of the woods as they could be picked up any time when there was new evidence linking any of them to involvement in ritualistic activities in the county.
However, observers say, it is just a matter of time that the county erupts into another chasm of ritualistic debacle because “Marylanders are hedonistic about rituals.”
April 6, 2010

Maryland County: Ritualistic Murders, Voodoo and the Rule of Law
Former Interior Minister and Maryland Superintendent under previous Administrations, and at the moment of his arrest Ambassador-at-Large appointed by President Sirleaf, Dan Morias, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and former Maryland County Attorney Cllr Fulton Yancy, together with at least eight other persons, were arrested following a string of ritual murders. They are now in custody in the county capital’s jail, according to the Harper police 'for protective reasons’.

Some sources even report the arrest of as many as nineteen suspected ritual killers.

The circumstances surrounding their arrests caused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to warn against voodoo justice and raise many questions about the rule of law in Liberia.

More: See Liberian Perspectives, April 4 2010

Guinea and Liberia (Lofa County): 300 'witches' confess to witchdoctor
About 300 persons in Liberia and Guinea have reportedly confessed to a Guinean witchdoctor for their alleged roles in ritualistic activities, including the killing of seven pregnant women and unborn children.

The alleged witches have reportedly been confessing to a 25-year-old Kissi witchdoctor known as Kamanor for the past three years since he launched his witch-finding crusade in the two countries.

Kamanor arrived in Lofa County recently at the invitation of residents of Lawalazu, Voinjama District.

Eyewitnesses told the New Democrat that about 25 persons have confessed to Kamanor for the past two weeks he has been carrying out the exercise in Lawalazu. He has reportedly discovered several traditional medicines with the suspects and that some confessed of using them for rituals, eyewitnesses said. One witness said human parts were among the substances.

An elder of Lawalazu, Joseph Sumo, said they invited the witchdoctor in the town because of the mysterious disappearances and deaths without cause.
April 5, 2010

Concerns of ritualistic killings in Lofa County: Sirleaf meets with citizens
President Ellen Johnson Thursday met with representatives of Zorzor District, residing in Monrovia and Zorzor to address concerns raised by them in a petition. The residents in their petition, expressed concern that Government’s robust response to incidents in Konia town may overshadow concerns of ritualistic killings in the area. They spoke of three incidents of ritualistic killings of their children which have remained unresolved.

“Our people live in constant fear as the culprits of these crimes roam about in our District with impunity,” the Zorzor residents said in their statement.
The President thanked the group for the peaceful assembly and restraint exercised during their assembly. (....) The Liberian leader encouraged the people of Zorzor to assist in providing clues that could lead to the speedy apprehension of the culprits.
More than one hundred inhabitants of Zorzor District, residing in Zorzor and Monrovia staged a peaceful demonstration Thursday to express concern over what they view as the delay in apprehending perpetrators of a string of alleged ritualistic killings in Zorzor, Lofa County.

The statement was signed by paramount and clan chiefs representing clans in Bluyeama, Gizima, and Zieama as well the representatives of women and youth groups.
March 20, 2010

Lofa County Sen. Sumo Kupee Accused of ritual killing…Some Defend his Integrity
Lawmaker and senator Prof. Sumo Kupee is being accused of having knowledge of the mysterious death of 13-year-old Vewu Kesselly. (...) The death of Kesselly surfaced a day after the senator reportedly declared his intention to contest in the 2011 Presidential elections.
Senator Kupee, a former University of Liberia Professor of Economics, now senior senator for Lofa County, denied having the slightest knowledge about the death of little Kesselly. He has however chosen not to comment on the matter because the case is in court.

A close confidante of Senator Kupee, who spoke on conditions of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak on a case already in court, said “Kupee is a man of impeccable integrity” and that he would never engage in such despicable acts no matter the political odds.

Meanwhile, the Lofa County Magisterial Court has already issued a formal Writ of Summons on the Senator to appear for questioning.
June10, 2009

"Liberian witches say power is in the blood, so victims should be eaten alive"
Tiny 14-year-old Precious sits on her orphanage bed in the southern Liberian port town of Harper, accused of witchcraft (...)
“Precious told us her stepmother asked her to give her biological mother as a human sacrifice,” says Moses Davies, a police officer with the Women and Child Protection unit in Harper’s town centre.
Public fear of ritualistic killings and witchcraft performed by secret societies is prevalent in places like Harper’s Maryland County in southeastern Liberia, and in the northern counties of Nimba and Lofa.

“In the 1970s, the town of Harper was engulfed in fear,” explains Thomas Mawolo, the Maryland County head of the Liberian human rights watchdog, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.
Under the practice known as Gboyo, there is a belief that human body parts extracted and eaten while the victim is still alive bestow power and affluence.

Charles Taylor and his militia brought international prominence to Gboyo practices during Liberia’s brutal civil war in the 1990s.
The murder of a local Harper fisherman, Moses Tweah — whose mutilated body washed up on a beachhead known as Devil’s Rock — triggered a massive public outcry in the town in 1977. (...) Mawolo says he has personally recorded up to 10 cases since then.

“Harper is a breeding ground for ritualistic killing... I’m not disputing it’s not elsewhere, but in this area it’s rampant.”
March 14, 2009

Fighting Child Labor, Trafficking
Colonel Richard Gonkarnue has one of the toughest jobs in Nimba County, Liberia: to combat child labor and trafficking at one of several checkpoints along a porous border between Liberia and the Ivory Coast.
Here's the story: last year, a young woman from the Ivory Coast kidnapped a 9-month-old baby from Monrovia. "To keep the child or sell it, we don't really know," the colonel says. In Liberia, it is common for children to be illegally adopted and bought and sold for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Children are trafficked for other dark purposes, including ritual killing.
March 5, 2009

Liberian leader abhors ritual killing
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf could not hide her disgust against the alleged ritual killing of a five year-old boy, Moses Binda, by two Liberian women. The incident took place in Bong Mines, 70 km north of the capital Monrovia.
Monrovia police on Tuesday said they arrested the two women suspects after they were accusing of killing Moses Binda for ritual purposes. They allegedly extracted some parts of his body and disappeared with them.
The boy’s decomposed body was later found in a pit latrine. His killers tied his hands and dumped his incomplete remains. Moses Binda was said to have been kidnapped on his way from school last Friday.
The commander of Bong Mines Police Station, who is known only as Children Father, was accused of conniving with the women to kill the young boy.
May 3, 2007

Ritual Killers in Maryland defy President Sirleaf
The Iron Lady clamped down on the ritualistic killers to stop because she said God himself said in the Bible that “Thou shall not kill.” “Don’t try me; don't try my government because you think that I am a woman.”

Three hours after the President departed from Harper, Madam Comfort Annan was out searching for her 3-year-old grandson. The dead body of the little boy was found with parts missing.
Analyst March 10, 2006

Woman Detained for Ritual Killing
The Magisterial Court in Buchanan has charged and detained a woman identified as Ruth Redd with the crime of “negligence homicide” in connection with the mysterious death of a two-year old Victoria Wee in Gbegbah Town, in Harlandsville Township, Grand Bassa County.
Liberian Observer October 04, 2006

Ritual killings increasing in Nimba County
According to a spokesman children are disappearing on a daily basis with their bodies mostly discovered in the bushes along highways and bearing marks of certain body parts removed.
Analyst March 9, 2006

Bryant warns presidential candidates against ritual killings
Liberia's interim leader Gyude Bryant has warned any aspiring presidential candidates tempted to boost their chances by carrying out human sacrifices that they will be executed if caught.
IRIN June 29, 2005

Religious Freedom Report 1999
Ritual killings, in which body parts used in traditional indigenous rituals are removed from the victim, continued to occur. The number of such killings is difficult to ascertain, since police often describe deaths as accidents even when body parts have been removed.

Ritual Killing Laid To Liberian Official: Defense Minister, Maj. Gen. Gray Allison, arrested - accused of ritual murder:

Eleven people, including Liberia's Defense Minister, have been arrested and charged with the ritual murder of a policeman as part of a plot to overthrow the Government.

The plot began in March, after the Defense Minister, Maj. Gen. Gray Allison, sought the aid of a ''medicine man'' to help him advance in his career. Prosecutors assert that General Allison had been told he would need a potion of human blood and body parts to perform ''juju'' or ''harsh medicine.'' The potion would then be used against Liberia's President, Samuel K. Doe, presumably to cause his death and bring down the Government.

A few days later a decapitated body was found lying across a railway track near General Allison's home with its heart ripped out. The body was later identified as that of J. Melvin Pyne, a local policeman.

The killing remained unsolved for several months until late June, when General Allison was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

The general, who faces a maximum penalty of death if convicted, was removed as Defense Minister after his indictment and went on trial before a military tribunal on July 10. His wife, Angeline Watta, and nine others were indicted as co-conspirators, but will be tried separately by a civilian court.

General Allison has vigorously denied the charges. Among those testifying against him were Sekou Sachko, the ''medicine man,'' and a nurse who said he had cut off Officer Pyne's head. The trial is expected to end shortly. The ritual killing has gripped Liberia this summer because the defendants are not marginal members of society but pillars of the establishment. Before his arrest last month, General Allison was among Liberia's most prominent political figures.

News articles about the trial often note that General Allison and his wife were known as devout Christians. They were recently named Liberia's father and mother of the year.
The practice of using ''juju'' for individual advancement is also often reported in newspapers in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
While General Allison is the most prominent Liberian to have been charged with ritual murder, dozens of business leaders, politicans and even clergymen have been charged, and sometimes convicted, of similar charges over the last few decades.

In 1987, six people, including a close aide to President Doe, were executed for the ritualistic killing of two boys.
August 15, 1989

Quiwonkpa, killed, dismembered and consumed
Thomas Quiwonkpa, former Commanding General of the Armed Forces of Liberia, and former member of the PRC, returned to Liberia via Sierra Leone, and staged a putsch. Quiwonkpa was later apprehended by Doe’s forces, killed, dismembered, and according to reports, part of his body was consumed by his executioners.
November 12, 1985

History of ritual killings in Liberia:



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