Nimba Lawmaker Linked to Mob Violence

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Representative Garrison Yealue of Nimba Electoral District # 4 has been linked to the mobbing of a man accused of ‘witchcraft’ in his hometown of Varyenglay in the Twah River Administrative District, Nimba County.

Speaking to the Daily Observer from his sick bed at one of the local hospitals in Nimba on the 16th March, the mob’s victim, John Miah, accused Rep. Garrison Yealue of masterminding his beating.

He said, Rep. Yealue provided all resources, including L$15,000 and several bags of clean rice to the citizens of the town to carry out the beating and vandalizing of his home.

He alleged those who mobbed him were: Emmanuel Karzuah, Nathaniel Sayee, Alvin Sarmie, Logan Gonpul, David Duo, Cyrus Moore, and Amos Sonkarlay, an office assistant to Rep. Yealue as well as Peter Womenpia, the principal of a public school in Varyenglay among others.

On 11th March, John W. Miah and his brother Peter were beaten by an angry mob in the town called Varyenglay for his refusal to open his house for a ‘witch doctor’ to check for ‘witch’ items.

Mr. Miah, a member of the Catholic Church, was severely beaten to the point of death by some citizens of the town for allegedly being a ‘witch.’

Mr. Miah explained, “After I returned from Karnplay around 3 p.m., the people grabbed me and ‘naked’ me, they then tied me and took me into the bush and began beating me.”

“They kept me bound in ropes until the next day, constantly beating me and telling me to confess. I refused to give in and told them I was not a ‘witch’ but a Christian,” he said.

Mr. Miah said his beating was the result of “mere jealousy” over him being a wealthy man with property that includes a rubber farm, 45 acres of palm, and 13 houses in the town.

He said because of his wealth, the citizens backed by the lawmakers conspired against him and hired a ‘witch doctor’ from Guinea, who arrived under the pretext of uprooting ‘witches’ from the town. However when the ‘doctor’ came he (Mr. Miah) was the only person targeted.

The victim claimed that his family was deprived of drawing water from the public hand pump in Vanyenglay and that locals went as far as stopping his children from going to school and seeking care at the town’s clinic.

He said that some of the citizens went to his farm and broke into his warehouse claiming they were checking for witches in his absence.

“They burglarized my house and farm; taking away everything including drums of oil, clothes and cash,” he alleged.

Our Nimba Correspondent said efforts to hear from the accused, including the town chief of Varyenglay and the named citizens, were difficult as they could not be reached due to their still being in the hands of security in Sanniquellie undergoing interrogation.

However, Representative Garrison Yealue has denied ever being connected to the incident which led to the beating of Mr. John Miah.

Speaking during the local breakfast show airing on Radio Kerghemahn on 20th March 2014, Rep. Yealue said he did not know of anyone taking the law into their own hands as was alleged.

He said, he is a Christian and does not believe in any form of ‘witch’ activities, so it was unfortunate for people to link him to such an incident.

“It is not in me to order people to flog someone,” he said.

When contacted, the Chief of Crime Services Department in Nimba, Detective James Kartoe, said nine persons, including the town chief Emmanuel Karzuah, the ‘witch doctor’ and some members of the community watch forum had been arrested and sent to court.

Supposed ‘witchcraft’ activities were highlighted last year in Nimba County with the arresting of people believed to be witches. Most of those who were arrested last year were members of local churches in Nimba.

Many of them confessed publicly and subsequently took oaths not to get involved with anymore ‘witchcraft.’

The recent ‘witch saga’ in Varyenglay last year brought great concern among the town’s citizens over what prompted the ‘witch activity’ as there were no mysterious deaths reported in the town.

Mr. Miah claims that in the early 90s a militiaman of the National Patriotic front named Barlea Tuoh, threatened to kill him and later killed his brother in connection to the same accusations of ‘being in witch’ and over property issues.

He is calling for speedy trial of the perpetrators of the mob violence and protection so he can return home and continue his farming activities.

“All my children are scattered due to the incident and we cannot go home because of fear over our safety,” he concluded.

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