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19.07.2004 Crime & Punishment

Armed Robbers Storm School

By Graphic

Two armed robbers last Thursday afternoon stormed the premises of the Association International School at the Airport Residential Area in Accra, amidst the firing of gunshots, brutalised the headmistress and made away with her bag containing money and some valuables.

The Headmistress, Mrs Nancy Hooper Opoku, was brutalised by one of the armed robbers for ignoring an order to surrender her bag, containing ¢3,150,000, $100, a passport, a driving licence, a voter ID card and other documents.

One of the robbers fired a warning shot to ward off some teachers who attempted to go to the aid of the headmistress, after which they escaped with the bag on a motorbike.

Some pupils, who witnessed the scene, including two children of the headmistress, were terrified and broke down in tears, especially when she was being brutalised.

“It was a very horrific scene and we all wept,” one of the pupils said.

The incident took place around 3 p.m. and lasted for about five minutes.

Narrating the story at her residence yesterday, Mrs Opoku said she had been on casual leave for some time now and on that fateful Thursday, she decided to transact business at the Prudential Bank at Madina Zongo Junction. She said there were some customers in the bank at the time she entered but the cashier did not attend to her because it was after 2p.m. so she decided to go to the Firestone area at Madina to pick up some bags she had sent there for repairs.

Mrs Opoku said at Firestone, she saw a man approaching her but hesitated a while after seeing her. She said she thought he was also going to do business there.

From Firestone, she drove to the school and first parked in front of the JSS block to call on the assistant headmistress. She then saw the same man she had seen earlier at Firestone but nothing struck her that he was an armed robber.

“Under normal circumstances, I would have asked if I could help him but I thought he was perhaps visiting someone on the premises so I did not mind him,” Mrs Opoku said.

From the JSS block, the headmistress drove to the main administration block, and as she got out of her car, the man confronted her and demanded the bag.

Before she could realise what was happening, the man pulled her down in an attempt to take the bag from her but she resisted, resulting in a struggle.

“I resisted because of my documents. I felt he had no right to take my bag because it did not belong to him. I felt the people around would come to my aid,” Mrs Opoku remarked.

For being “stubborn”, Mrs Opoku was subjected to beatings by the armed robber, who hit her head several times with the butt of a pistol.

Some teachers who witnessed the scene attempted to rescue her, and sensing danger, the robber fired a warning shot to keep the rescuers away. It was at that moment that the headmistress realised the danger to her life and surrendered the bag.

One of the teachers who attempted to use his mobile phone to call the police was hit hard on the hand with a gun by the other robber.

In a move to stop the robbers from escaping, the watchman on duty closed the entrance gate to the school and as he tried to lock it, the second robber, who was then on the motorbike, pointed a pistol at him and he backed off.

Some parents who had gone to pick their children also tried to help by blocking the exit gate with their vehicles but they were ordered at gunpoint to move away and they obliged.

Having succeeded in their mission, the robbers then jumped onto the motorbike, which had no registration number and fled.

That was the time the school children gathered courage to run after the escaping robbers.

Mrs Opoku said initially she had some pains and swelling around her neck and head but she was now better after some medication.

Association International School is about 15 metres away from the Airport Police Station, but no one was able to inform the police till after the incident.

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