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16.04.2004 Regional News

Angry mob besiege Nima police station

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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Angry members of a combined vigilante group from Nima, Mamobi, Kanda and Kawukudi, all suburbs of Accra, for the second day on Thursday, besieged the Nima District Police Headquarters to register their protest against the release of some suspected members of a criminal gang in their neighbourhoods.

After hours of angry protest, the group gradually dispersed, following an explanation from the area's divisional police command that they were acting on a court order which had released the suspected gang members.

The alleged members of the gang who were arrested on Monday, 12 April by the combined vigilante group and surrendered to the district police, were granted bail by an Accra circuit court and asked to reappear on 7 May, next month after their first appearance in court.

According to the secretary of the combined neighbourhood watchdog committee, Ahmed Swallah, the arrested gang members had been engaged in snatching pedestrians' mobile phones, bags and other valuable items at vantage points in their neighbourhoods.

He said aside that, members of this gang were the alleged culprits in the destruction of election materials during the just ended voters' registration exercise. Explaining further, he said what had angered them the most was the way and manner in which the police prosecutor presented the case before the court.

“The prosecutor told the Judge that the boys were 15 and 16 years and they were going to sit for their exams, so he wanted them to be granted bail,” Swallah said. “Meanwhile, the boys are in their twenties and are not in school. This kind of attitude has demoralized our efforts.” Swallah fumed.

Those arrested were five in all, according to Swallah. When the station's Divisional Commander, Chief Supt. Felix S. Fiati was reached yesterday for comment, he told The Chronicle that indeed, the boys were arrested by the watchdog committee and brought to the station on the above allegations.

He said they were sent to court the following day after being charged. However, the charges brought against them in court were on the destruction of electoral materials since it could not be proved that those arrested had actually engaged in the alleged snatchings.

The Chronicle gathered that most of the people who showed up as victims of the boys' snatchings could not identify their perpetrators except for three persons. Asked whether there had been official complaints by victims of the gang before their recent arrest, the Commander answered in the affirmative.

However, there were verbal exchanges between sympathizers of the boys and some aggrieved members of the vigilante group. The group said it had contacted Senior Minister John Henry Mensah on the issue via telephone. He is said to be a resident of one of the affected nieghbourhoods.