Confronting the principalities of armed robbery in the country
Exactly two weeks ago, I posted an article in this column titled: THE SCOURGE OF ARMED ROBBERY IN GHANA. The article was also published online by Ghana Home Page (www.ghanaweb.com) on the following Sunday. It generated hundreds of comments. For the first time, every comment on Ghana Home Page by readers were uniform-that is everybody is committed in getting rid of this incubus which hitherto has been unleashed on us.
Today, I would like to take the subject on armed robbery further. As a concerned citizen, I cannot remain silent when the nation is apparently being drowned in a pool of armed robbery. The scourge of armed robbery knows neither party nor tribal line. Victims of armed robbery run through the whole fabric of the society. This means that the battle against this nefarious activity cannot be won by the government sitting in Osu and passing legislation and expecting things to work out perfectly. It is like terrorism; no single nation in this world can fight and win the battle on terrorism. The Akan's have a saying that the hand of one person is not enough to cover the eyes of God.
The first step in the combat of armed robbery which would send signals to armed robbers and would-be armed robbers is legislation. The attorney general's department working closely with concerned civil society groups against armed robbery in the country could help formulate specific laws in our statute books to fight this menace. Since armed robbery and drug are related, the law should try to also deal with the growing drug use in the country. Such law should also seek to criminalize those who harbour armed robbers and facilitate in their work.
ZERO TOLERANCE ON ARMED ROBBERY
So far, the government has not made any firm commitment with regards to the fight against the increasing armed robbery in the country. Such lack of political will is not only injurious to the growth of the country but also constitutes a blatant dereliction of duty by the government. Like I wrote in last week's article, it is the duty of government to protect the governed and guarantee security, at least to some extent.
The president and his men should rise up from their slumber before the Goliath's of robbery gear out of control. For I believe in the words of John F. Kennedy that if a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCHDOG COMMITTEE
There is no substitute for good neighbourhood awareness. In a society where everyone is concerned about his or her neighbour or knows his immediate neighbour, the tendency for a strange person to be figured out easily cannot be overemphasised. We need to be concerned about our neighbours. Either we go up together or come down together.
Perhaps, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Local Government, in collaboration with civil society groups should develop a model curriculum on good neighbourhood. And through the District Assemblies and local councils and unit committees, it could be implemented.
JOINT POLICE AND MILITARY PATROL
Joint police and military patrol is something which is not new in this country. The dimension of which organised armed robbery has gone in this country requires more concerted effort in combating this social incubus. The military is badly needed. Already, the police are under-staffed and allowing only the police to patrol or embark on such operations would put much pressure on the already constrained service.
MORE CRIMINAL DETECTIVES AGENTS
In this country, we are not good in giving information to the police when it comes to the matters of criminal activities. We delight in complaining but not collaborating. Well, may be the public cannot trust the police on certain information that they give to them. If cocaine kept at the police headquarters can mysteriously turn in to 'kokonte', then I can understand why the public has lost trust in the security agencies. For the battle on armed robbery and its related drug scourge to be surmounted, it means that the police must redeem its image which has sunk in the eyes of the public. There are instances where informants have suffered backlash from the information they give to the police. But on a more a serious note, the police need to use plain cloth men in dealing with this menace.
Getting plain cloth policemen in the cities and strategic hide outs of these criminals would help reduce these incidences of robbery which has befallen on us. This might even mean using armed robbery convicts to help find others in the business since they know themselves.
CO-OPERATION FROM LAND- LORDS AND OTHER TENANTS
Co-operation from landlords and landladies can also be a step further in dealing with the ever-increasing spate of armed robbery. This means reporting any tenant with suspicious character or trade to the police. In other parts of the world, people are really observant that any act of suspicion could easily be reported to the police. For example, if an unfamiliar car is seen plying a street for many times, someone could easily call the police.
RIDDING THE ROADS OF UNLICENSED CARS
In the city of Kumasi, it appears four out of ten vehicles are unlicensed, with most of these cars using foreign number plates. The sad thing is that some cars have neither the temporary DVLA number plate nor foreign number plate. Some deliberately remove the number plates just to facilitate any diabolical act that they commit. Ironically, these cars pass through the police barriers day and night, yet the police seem not to be doing anything either by applying the appropriate sanctions or fine. They would rather prefer to take their 'share' at the barrier than to bring them to the bar of justice where the fine would go to the state.
Like I said in the previous article, armed robbery in the nation can be brought down to it knees. It would not come down as a result of almighty God sending marching armies down to drive them out from the country neither a thunder bolt striking from above. We must put in an unprecedented effort. It requires a sustained political will and co-operation. With co-operation and everybody doing his or her best we can confront this principality.
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