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23.05.2007 Crime & Punishment

Armed Robber, 26, Jailed 60 years

The Tamale High Court, presided over by Mr Justice Simon Suurebareh, has sentenced a 26-year-old armed robber to 60 years' imprisonment with hard labour.

Seidu Issaka, believed to be of Fulani extraction, was convicted on two counts of robbery for engaging in a highway robbery at Disiga on the Tamale-Bolgatanga Road, leading to the death of one of his victims.

Prosecuting, a State Attorney, Mr Salia Abdul-Quddus, said on September 8, 2006, policemen at a snap checkpoint at Kokobila on the Tamale-Bolgatanga Road heard gunshots from the direction of Disiga at about 2.00 a.m.

According to the State Attorney, the police became suspicious and called for reinforcement from Walewale.

He said when the reinforcement arrived, the police headed towards the direction of the gunshots and about five metres away from the scene they saw that the road had been blocked with big stones, while two articulated trucks had been compelled to park on the other side.

All the passengers on board the vehicles which had been forced to stop had been made to lie on the road, while three robbers stood over them. One of them wielded an AK 47 assault rifle, another a stick with which he whipped the passengers, while the third robber searched the passengers and robbed them of their money and other valuables.

Mr Abdul-Quddus said when the robbers saw the police, the one wielding the AK 47 rifle opened fire on their vehicle, destroying the windscreen in the process. The police, in turn, returned fire, during which the gunman was killed.

The prosecution further said after their colleague had fallen, the remaining two disappeared into the bush.

Before then, he said, the robbers had shot dead a 16-year-old female passenger, later identified as Nafisah Mustapha, who had refused to comply with the instructions of the robbers.

Mr Abdul-Quddus stated that the suspect was later arrested by vigilant villagers when he attempted to escape and was handed over to the chief of Pigu.

A black bag in his possession was found to contain two mobile phones and their accessories, a dagger, cash of about ¢1.4 million, gari and cooking oil.

The State Attorney indicated that the convict pleaded with the chief to take the items and allow him to go but he refused and handed him over to the police.

Upon interrogation, Issaka told the police that he had spent the night with one Alhaji Lambo at Nasia but the said Alhaji Lambo denied ever seeing the convict.

Issaka had also stated that he lived in Tamale but when the police sent him to Tamale, he led them to a Fulani chief's house and pointed out a room where he claimed he lived. However, the Fulani chief denied the assertion and rather directed the police to a provisions store owned by the convict.

The prosecution continued that when the police got to the convict's provisions store, they met his wife and two children.

The police eventually searched the store and found two live cartridges and managed to locate the convict's room through the help of some co-tenants.

When the room was opened, 24 fairly used bicycles were found, along with one mobile phone, but Issaka could not produce documents covering them. He was taken to the police station and, during investigation, one Yussif Suwadogo, a Burkinabe driver who had been a victim of the robbery, identified one of the mobile phones as his.

After investigations, the convict was charged with two counts of robbery and was arraigned before the High Court.

Story by Vincent Adedze