05.05.2004 General News

Bomb Scare Rocks Bank

05.05.2004 LISTEN
By Graphic

What was originally envisaged as a stand off between the security agencies and armed robbers, who were alleged to have taken the staff of Merchant Bank at the Central Business District of Accra hostage, turned out to be as a bomb scare.

At exactly 9.45 a.m. yesterday, a large crowd besieged the bank premises apparently to be eye witnesses of the alleged bank robbery.The police and military presence at the bank was misconstrued as an attempt to apprehend the perceived armed robbers who had taken the bank staff hostage in an attempt to rob the bank.

Vehicular and pedestrian movement to the precinct of the bank was hampered as the security personnel had cordoned off the place.Customers of the bank who wanted to transact business were prevented from doing so.All this while, word had gone round the whole of the metropolis that some armed robbers had taken over the bank.

At about 2.10 p.m. that the Graphic team got to the scene, the crowd still believed that the bank was under siege. Matters were not helped by the attitude of the heavily security personnel who were heavily armed and only talked to the public when anybody dared to get closer.

Everybody, including, journalists who had rushed to cover the event were ready for a possible shootout between the security personnel and the “armed robbers”.Anxious reporters, some of them very scared about the outcome of a possible shoot out, discussed how daring armed robbers could be to besiege a bank next to the Accra Regional Police Command.

Their anxieties were, however, laid to rest when the Head of Public Affairs of the Bank, Mr Eric Adodoadji, informed the journalists that the report of the robbery was phoney but rather the security operations at the bank was based on a bomb scare.

He said at about 9.45 a.m., a member of staff at the exchange section of the bank had a call that bombs had been planted on the bank's premises and that she should relay the message to her colleagues to save life. He said when the information got to him, he immediately called the police who came in and sealed the whole premises.

Mr Adodoadji said the customers who were transacting business at the time of the incidence were conveyed in the bank's vehicle to other branches to be served, while those who were coming in to transact business were prevented from doing so.He said when the bomb experts from the Ghana Armed Forces arrived at about 1.05 pm, they quickly and professionally scanned the whole premises with their devices but nothing was found.

The second-in-command of the Crime Scene Management Team of the Police Service, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mr Reuben Asiwoko, who led the police team told the Graphic that when his team arrived at the scene at 11.30 a.m., they had to seal the whole place to prevent the crowd that had gathered at the precincts of the bank from tampering with anything.

He said they then proceeded to interview the staff of the bank while they waited for the bomb experts to arrive. At about 3.00 pm, when the security personnel started leaving the premises, some of the anxious onlookers started asking questions about the whereabouts of the robbers.

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