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26.09.2005 Crime & Punishment

Armed Robbery, Controlling a Frightening National Plague

By GNA
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A GNA feature by Miss Mynna Asirife (AIJC Intern)

Accra, Sept. 26, GNA - They are ferocious, sneaky and often hard to pin down. They also strike anytime of the day and are very effective to send revulsion to their victims after concluding their often-bloody assignments.

Armed robbers have become the modern plague wrecking havoc in once peaceful and stable Ghana and leaving in their trail horrific scenes of helplessness, disorder, rape, greed and wanton destruction and looting of property.

Ghana News Agency investigations have revealed a number of armed robbery attacks. While some are just robbed at gunpoint others endure physical assaults and humiliation before their kith and kin. A group of armed men attacked and robbed a Dutch medical doctor killing his partner in the process and making away with moneys and belongings valued at millions of cedis at Ashaley Botwe near Legon in Accra.

The items they robbed included 20,000 Euros, one million cedis cash and a video camera among other things.

Frighteningly, records from the Police are there to indicate the seriousness of the national calamity.

Between January and June, this year Ghana has recorded 250 robberies nationwide as against the 396 cases recorded last year. The statistics made available to the Ghana News Agency said robberies rose from 311 in 1999 to 396 in year 2000.

The number two man of the State, Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, has expressed disquiet about the rising crime rate in the country and had called on Chief Executives of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to facilitate efforts to clamp down on the activities of criminals.

"We are receiving increasing reports of armed robberies in residential areas and on the highways, snatching of cars, mobile phones, wrist watches and gold chains.

"The activities of these criminals have serious implications for business activities and the national economy. This is a matter of grave concern to Government and indeed to all peace loving citizens", he said, at the close of a five-day orientation workshop for the Chief Executives.

Alhaji Mahama said peace was the precondition for any meaningful development and investment and, therefore, charged the Chief Executives and the various local security councils, to be fully alert and to take measures that would encourage people to go about their legitimate businesses without fear.

The Police have been putting out lucrative rewards for anybody who could provide information that would lead to the arrest of armed robbers.

The Greater Accra Regional Police Command recently put out 10 million cedis for information on armed robbers and this led to the capture of two hardened armed robbers.

The Command also advised residents of Accra to mount constant surveillance on suspicious characters, form community watchdog committees and inform the Police on time to pre-empt armed robbery. Consequently, the Police has reactivated its emergency number 191 for information, but warned that misuse of the number to raise false alarms would deflate Police action.

It has also advised taxi drivers, especially those operating to and from Kwame Nkrumah Circle to be cautious, observant and extra vigilant about people they picked in the night and should avoid picking young males between the ages of 18 and 26 who might be in groups of two or more requiring to be transported to remote and quiet areas. Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Mr Douglas Akrofi Asiedu, at a press briefing on the crime situation in Accra said taxis were the most vulnerable in the crime of car snatching, which were often used in committing crimes and later abandoned.

Flashpoints for cab snatching included Alliance Francaise and Opeibea House areas, which are close to the Airport Residential Area, Gbawe; and generally remote areas.

The Regional Police Commander said the most serious of robberies were occurring in the residential areas mostly in the night after mid-night with the use of weapons such as locally made pistols, cutlasses, knives and break-in- instruments.

Residential robberies occurring mostly in the night constitute the most serious of robberies in the Accra Metropolis.

Areas that had been victims of night residential robberies included Ashongman, Madina, Taifa, Frafraha and developing residential areas along the Accra Dodowa Road; Batsona, Sampa Valley, Sowutuom, Anyaa, Weija, Aplaku, Bortianor, Dunkona, Ashalley Botwe and Nmaadjor. In pursuit of their mandate to protect life and property, the Police Administration had embarked on a systematic rationalization of its structures to streamline operations in combating crime.

The best wish one could have for the Police is to be ahead of crime and criminals and to display to Ghanaians that the Service could really live above reproach.

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