Liberia: ‘Serial Ritualistic’ Killings Spark Mob Justice in Nimba County
Ganta, Nimba County – Mob violence has taken center stage in Nimba County as locals consider it a means of reprisal to a wave of alleged ritualistic killings happening in recent weeks.
Report by Franklin Doloquee, Nimba County Contributor
Two men, who were accused of killings of a 14-month-old baby, were mauled to death while they were being transferred to the county’s capital for investigating.
The two men were mauled by angry residents of the LPRC Community in Ganta. The incident occurred on March 19 when angry residents stormed the city, calling for the speedy investigation of the killings.
The violence brought normal activities to a standstill leaving some police and Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency officers injured.
Earlier, seven men were accused of alleged ritualistic killings in Blavahlay Town, District #7 and they were taken to Sanniquellie for investigation.
The issue of mobbed violence is now on the increase in Nimba County with Ganta experiencing the most incidents, a FrontPageAfrica reporter in the county said. At least 10 persons have been reported killed as a result of mob violence in the last two years.
Since the March 19 incident, the police presence has increased in the county and 93 suspects have been arrested in connection with the disturbance. They are currently in Gbarnga, Bong County undergoing investigation.
The alleged ritualistic killings and subsequent unrests have destabilized Ganta, a major commercial city in northern Liberia. It is drawing concerns for people from all walks of life.
At the weekend, over 200 women under the banner Nimba Women for Peace and Reconciliation presented a position statement on the increase of ritualistic killings in the county recently.
The women, from the 17 administrative districts of the county, gathered at the Christian Bible Church in Ganta. They were very angry and called on the government to combat the strange killings.
The heads of several women groups in the county expressed their dismay and called for swift actions from the government.
They said, “their children are now living in fear, they are not going to schools, and they should not be used for to rich themselves with our children that are the future leaders of the nation”.
The women presented a position statement to the county leadership but only a county official was present.
The Nimba Women for Peace and reconciliation lamented that since the increased of ritualistic killing in the county, “the local authority continues to remain silent while children are going missing”.
They stressed that they feel obliged to undertake the cause to condemn “these evil acts by people who are interested in nothing else but just of power and money”.
They also called for calm among families of victims while urging local leaders and the county lawmakers to stand behind their effort and combat the increase killings in their communities.
The gathering comes four days after the lifeless body of an infant was discovered in Ganta. The body was discovered burned and it was said to be a 14-months-old child.
Another child was reported missing at the Ganta general market while there have been reports of several other alleged killings of children in the county.
There have been brewing tension in the county with hundreds of residents threatening mob justice, prompting the women to emphasized the importance of the government’s intervention.
And the women stressed that timely intervention will avoid a ongoing negative reaction from the public, that is already frustrated and showing a lack of confidence in the authorities and security actors.
The women then called on the government to launch an investigation into the “killing and missing of innocent children in the communities and bring the perpetrators to book and keep the public constantly abreast of the progress of such investigation”.
At the same time, rights advocates in the county have termed the “strange killings of children as “a blatant violation of human rights”.
According to the Executive Director for KIDS Foundation Liberia Augustine Dahn, in the past years, several children and adults had gone missing and were later discovered dead with parts of their bodies extracted for ritual purposes.
The group joined the Nimba Women for Peace and Reconciliation to condemned the killings and called on government to reintroduce capital punishment.
The group argues that the increasing wave of these human rights violations can be blamed on the country’s “contaminated judicial system and inefficiency, corruption, under-qualified lawyers and judges, lack of court facilities, transportation, and others resources, inadequate police investigation, shortage of public defenders, poor case management.” The management of Kids foundation believes the reintroduction of capital punishment would serve as serious deterrence to would be ritualistic killers.