The preacher-President’s crusade against a sinful world

Already early in his administration, President Tolbert applied the Biblical adage ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. In 1971 he signed the first death warrant for the execution of a convicted murderer, Justin Obi who had killed Episcopalian Bishop George Brown. Not much later, he signed the death warrants of three other convicted criminals among whom one of his cousins, William Tolbert. In 1974 he again signed three death warrants authorizing the hanging of the convicted criminals. In 1976 he ordered the public flogging of petty thieves in the Mary Antoinette Tubman football stadium, between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, an event, which was witnessed by thousands of people. In a big contrast with the public and painful punishment of these petty criminals, he granted clemency in the same period to a former Police Director – and member of the Tolbert clan - who one year earlier had been convicted and sent to prison for seven years because of his participation in a counterfeit money gang. Was Tolbert favouring those who were close to him or was he skilfully manoeuvring between opposing forces within the Americo-Liberian community by reinforcing his own political base? With hindsight it has become clear that there was a fierce struggle for power within the families that determined the country's destiny. 
Click to supersize On July 16, 1977 President Tolbert ordered 5 days of prayers and fasting. Among those who prayed in one of Monrovia’s numerous churches was Allen Yancy, son of a former Vice President, church leader, former Chief of Police, Country Attorney, cousin of former president William Tubman, member of the House of Representatives for Maryland County, and recipient of many honorary national and foreign distinctions. Also on July 16, 1977 President Tolbert fired James Daniel Anderson, Superintendent of Maryland County, for failure of not reporting the disappearance of 14 people in his county since November 1976 and of not taking any action. Superintendent Anderson was no ‘small fish’, his father was the National Chairman of the True Whig Party. A few days later former Superintendent Anderson, Representative Yancy and ten more people were arrested, accused of ritual murder

The Maryland Ritual Murders


































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