Posted on June 29, 2005

13 Killed in Ritual Murders in Grand Bassa

Analyst (Monrovia), June 13

Many agree that the lack of meritocracy in the institution of state management has led to the lackluster performances of past administrations and plunged this nation into the abyss of tyranny, nepotism, and eventually civil war.

In this era of path-finding, thinking Liberians seeking to reform this nation are pondering the meritocracy question, wondering how it has been able to elude past efforts to institute democracy to this country. The key questions have been, “Has meritocracy eluded Liberians because those who managed to ascend to power have invariably been congenitally nepotistic thereby taking pleasure in mediocrity at the expense of the nation’s stability and development? Or have some charms been used to cloud the judgments of the people and the leadership into putting buffoons and self-centered bigots in power?”

Those considering the questions from the perspectives of politics believe the leaders and ordinary electorates have simply been nepotistic and gullible, in that order. The spiritualists, on the other hand, believe human sacrifice for political power has been behind the propelling of undesirable elements into government.

No one knows for sure which of these schools of thought is right, but the fact that ritual murder seems almost a telltale part of electoral phenomena in Liberia since the days of William V. S. Tubman tilts the benefit of the doubt in favor of the spiritualists. As Mensiegar Karnga of our staff reports, thirteen young Liberians have been butchered in Grand Bassa County perhaps for rites related to the ensuing elections, if the past is any indicator.

Thirteen children of the Bassa ethnic group between 12 and 16 years, have reportedly been killed in the last two weeks, police told our reporter over the weekend in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

According to eyewitnesses from the area who spoke with our reporter in Buchanan City over the weekend, the murders were perpetrated by hitherto unknown assailants in District # 4 — within the vicinity of the Liberia Agricultural Company (LAC) and the towns of Bejoe, Payouway, Zondo, and Pee, among others.

They said several parts were extracted from the bodies of the victims but fell short of saying whether the thirteen victims were murdered at the same time or whether the pattern of killing was the same for all victims.

As the result of the mass murder which is the first in more than a decade, residents of Buchanan City though several miles from the affected areas, have begun observing a voluntary nighttime curfew for fear of falling victim to the ritual murderers whose identities and motives for the mass killings are yet to established by the police.

The voluntary curfew, our reporter quoted residents as saying, has disrupted farming and academic activities in Buchanan and its environs in the last one week.

The incidents come on the heels of massive preparations for the ensuing presidential and general elections but it is not readily known whether they are related.

The police have so far not arrested any suspect despite the reinforcement of patrol in the in District #4 and Buchanan City.

A police commander known only as Col. Dickson said he and his officers were determined to arrest perpetrators of the acts to stem the wave of killings in the county.

Family sources of the murdered victims told our reporter that the wave of killings continues to deter free movement of residents in the county.

Madam Wlechu Gboyah, a resident of LAC, said the plantation is now a “no-go” area after three o’clock in the afternoon, especially along the train track.

“This is because,” she disclosed, “masked men — brandishing sticks, knives and other harmful objects — are often seen chasing fellow Liberians as if they were hunting for bush animals.” It is not known who these masked men are, who they are working for, and whether or not they are responsible for the murder of the thirteen young Liberians killed in District #4 recently.

She confirmed the disruption of the flow of produce to the city from rural towns and villages due to the murders and said if nothing was done by UNMIL and the police to arrest the situation, hunger would hit Buchanan very soon.

Residents have, meanwhile, called on UNMIL and state security to stem the rising tide of killing in the county.