19.03.2005 Crime & Punishment

Ataa Ayi’s Magic Haunts IGP & Men

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DESPITE THE ARREST and subsequent remand of the nation's most wanted armed robber, Ataa Ayi, and a host of other notorious armed robbers, the police is yet to free itself from the grips of the 'magic' and the masterful artistry several of these hardened criminals adopt in their trade.

To the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Nana Owusu-Nsiah, “the armed robbers are constantly changing their tactics and shifting from one jurisdiction to another so as to outwit us.”

A case in point, he suggested, is the recent upsurge in highway robberies, saying this was happening even though the Police service has increased patrol team units on the highways.

Speaking to newsmen at the end of the 2nd Police Regional Commanders conference in Accra, the IGP said though the service prides itself with the arrest of Ataa Ayi and several of the notorious armed robbers, the police must find more innovative ways to be ahead of these criminals at all times.

“Other strategies including discreet but swift enquiries should be made in our jurisdictions to enable us identify the criminals and locate their hideouts”, he stressed, adding: “In short we must be proactive”.

He said the police could also conduct planned raids to flush these criminal 'Ataa Ayis' out before they attempt to strike, if they are to control crime and maintain law and order in the country.

The police, he assured, would make this country safe for all its citizens and that no individual or groups, such as the Isreals or Talibans, who have been operating recently in the Kumasi metropolis, should be made to destabilise this nation.

Meanwhile the debate as to what sort of punishment must be meted out to these criminals rage on with no clear-cut direction.

Last week, the two nominees for the Attorney General and Minister of Justice deputy ministerial positions appeared before the Appointments Committee with strong divergent views on the death penalty and whether it should be used in cases of hardened criminals such as the notorious Ataa Ayi and Mpata.

The two, Mr. Emmanuel Owusu Ansah and Mr. Joseph Ghartey, both appeared before the Vetting Committee and expressed their different legal views on the subject of the use of capital punishment against criminals.

In a random survey conducted by this paper, many Ghanaians, likewise the two deputy ministerial nominees, are divided on the application of the capital punishment against hardened criminals.

In his view, Nana Yeboah, a shop owner in the central business district of the city could not justify any excuse for anyone to engage in armed robbery, therefore, he does not support the situation where such people are jailed for a few years and released.

He said no mercy must be shown armed robbers and that the only solution he sees to the fight against the menace is to impose capital punishment on such folks.

To Kwasi Owusu of Adenta, armed robbers, if caught must be either be sentenced to life imprisonment or given capital punishment. His reason is that armed robbers do not deal leniently with their victims and they must be given same treatment.

Ms Matilda Asante, a Teacher at Dansoman, a suburb of Accra, referred to armed robbers as a group of merciless bandits whose modulus operandi is causing much anxiety in society and as such be made to face capital punishment.

However, Mr. Alex Asare, a Café operator at Mathaeko, Accra, opined that culprits who are caught must be rehabilitated because “nobody was born an armed robber”, arguing that many people engage in this business because of economic reasons.

According to him, much as he hates armed robberies, he would not advocate for the support for the suggestion that armed robbers must be made to face the capital punishment.

Several interviewees who expressed similar sentiments include Cecil Mensah, Mamprobi, Nii Martey of Banana Inn, Sammy 'T'of Circle, and a High Court who pleaded to remain anonymous.

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