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01.03.2005 General News

‘Soldiers’ Go On Rampage

By GYE NYAME CONCORD

...Rob Teenagers Of Cash & Clothes

AS GHANAIANS marked the eve of Christmas day with prayers and funfare, four unidentified 'soldiers' invaded the Aviation Social Centre between the 37 Military Hospital and Kotoka International Airport in Accra. Their mission: To brutally assault and rob holiday makers wearing military-like camouflage attires of their possessions.

In the end, the self-confessed soldiers collected various items, including a camouflage trouser, shirt and cash from those who could afford to exchange their items with money during the unauthorised operation at the Aviation Centre.

Subsequent enquiries by Gye Nyame Concord have revealed that the soldiers had no authorisation to carry out the exercise to rob their victims that day. Also, the items they seized have not been sent to the military quarters as claimed by one Malik Abdulai, one of the self-confessed soldiers in the team that day, who told this paper on phone that they had deposited the items with the Military Police at Burma Camp.

One of the victims, Bencraft Abraham, who is still tracing the whereabouts of an expensive military-green camouflage shirt bought as a present for him from the USA, told Gye Nyame Concord: “When I got there I saw the 'soldiers' in mufti slapping and booting those in the camouflage dress and removing them. Then one of them who identified himself later as Malik Abdulai asked me to remove mine and give it to him quietly otherwise he will invite his colleagues to beat me up. He also asked me to give him my phone in order to leave me but I told him I have no phone”.

“He therefore gave me his phone number (0244-154112) to call him to return the trouser later after collecting the shirt. He told me I can locate him at Flagstaff House”

“After I had called him to claim my shirt, I received several calls from him rather demanding the trouser from me. I later called again and went to Flagstaff House with my mother and cousin who called him when we got there but another person received the call, identifying himself as Richard from Sunyani [Brong Ahafo Region]. Later my mother's friend called him on the same day and he told him that he can be located at Gonja Barracks.”

The second victim, a younger brother of Bencraft, Thomas Abraham on his part said “my camouflage cap was seized and when one of the 'soldiers' was trying to take my trouser, I gave him ¢15000. He released me and warned me to leave the scene immediately. I later called my brother who was also preparing at home to come to the function but I didn't get him''.

The mother of the victims, Madam Matilda Omabo, a trader said the camouflage attires were sent from US by their father.

“I paid huge amounts of money as Customs Duty to claim them. So, why should items scrutinized by one security agency be seized by another when being used in the same country?”

She said she had reported the case several times to the military police, who have denied receiving such items or dispatching soldiers on that day to carry out that operation.

“Since my report, efforts to trace Malik Abdulai have proven futile. He's been giving us only conflicting identification of himself”.

Interestingly, the Army has distanced itself from the disgraceful act.

The Director of Public Relations of the Ghana Armed Forces, Colonel Nibo, flatly denied any knowledge of the said operation and items taken when reached, and expressed doubts on whether the culprits were really soldiers.

Confronted with this allegation of possible impersonation on phone by this newspaper, Malik Abdulai, who accepted that he carried out the operation and seized the items with others he would not identify, insisted that he is enlisted with the Military Police.

He also claimed he was undergoing training in the “bush, far from Accra” and cut the phone line. Efforts to meet him since have been unsuccessful.

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