Dealing with the Dual Crisis in Nimba: Ritualistic Killings and Mob Violence

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Most visitors to and passing through Nimba County, most especially its commercial capital, Ganta, have come away highly impressed.

They have reported on the vibrant entrepreneurial activities in the county and the rapid development taking place as a result.

These welcome developments have, however, been seriously marred by the recent spate of ritualistic killings being perpetrated across the county. Included among the victims are many children and a few motorcyclists. These tragic developments have seriously disturbed the peace in Nimba, as scores of citizens and residents, including motorcyclists, have stormed the commercial capital, Ganta, burning, and looting businesses and other properties and even police stations.

All of these have sparked the immediate intervention of the Liberian government, led by Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh.

His first actions were to condemn the ritualistic killings and the violence that emitted, and to suspend the activities of all motorcyclists in Ganta.

In order to reinforce the government’s sense of urgency over the situation, the Justice Minister, during his second visit to Nimba County following these violent developments, was accompanied by the Ministers of Internal Affairs and the Information, Morris Dukuly and Lewis Browne, respectively.

Minister Sannoh again pledged to bring to justice both the ritualistic killers and the motorcyclists and others who were involved in the violence and destruction.

While these ministerial visits and pledges are significant and welcome, the Liberian government must realize that visits and pledges are not enough. Strict vigilance and tougher and sterner action are needed to halt this despicable state of affairs in the county and anywhere else around the country experiencing such reprehensible acts.

The women of Nimba in a statement to Minister Sannoh, called for ritualistic killers to be brought speedily to justice, but they came short of condemning the violent actions of motorcyclists and others. The women, however, called for a dramatic and serious increase in the protection of citizens. They urged the Justice Minister to increase police presence in the county.

When will the Justice Ministry and Police Commissioner Chris Massaquoi finally awake to the inadequacy of police protection around the country?

Is not the Liberia National Police (LNP) the one in the forefront of security as we await the departure of UNMIL? So why are there not enough policemen and women deployed around the country? Have the Justice Ministry and the LNP forgotten the strategic position of Nimba County?

Aside from being the Nation’s second most populous county, next to Montserrado, Nimba borders both the Republic of Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire, where cross border trade and the incidence of crime are robust. We can never forget how, earlier this year, a murderous gang of men pursued a prisoner who had fled to the Town of Buutuo bordering La Cote d’Ivoire and turned himself in at the local police station. The two lonely policemen manning the decrepit station fled when they faced the murderous gang, who quickly entered the station and hacked the prisoner to death.

Nothing has apparently changed since then, and that is why the Nimba women are appealing to Justice Minister Sannoh to intervene and beef-up Nimba’s security.

If that is not done, the hapless Nimba people will be continually exposed to violence habitually being perpetrated essentially by two groups – Nimba Youth and Nimba motorcyclists.

While we call on the Justice Ministry and the LNP to deploy more police officers in Nimba, we make four more appeals: first, to the Ministry of Defense to increase its military presence in the County.

Second, we urge the women and parents of Nimba to instill discipline and self-control in their children from early childhood.

Third, we urge Cuttington University to share its peace and conflict program with Nimba County, by deploying some of its staff and students there to undertake peacebuilding initiatives that will help bring peace to the people of the county.

Fourth, we appeal to the churches, mosques and other religious bodies to pray the devil back into hell by first, praying for God to bring an end to ritualistic killings and witchcraft in Liberia. Second, that the churches and other religious groups should begin teaching the exclusive power and supremacy of Almighty God; and that nothing else besides that can bring to anyone power and prosperity.

The only blood that is involved here is the blood of Jesus Christ.

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