We Are Mourning
Since last Tuesday, the people of Sekondi-Takoradi have been in a state of mourning when in the evening of the Monday before the Tuesday, authentic news from the Police administration, delivered by no less a person than the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Oppong-Boanuh announced to the whole world that the four young ladies of Takoradi who were kidnapped by some Nigerians more than a year ago, are dead.
The conclusion arrived at by the IGP, was the result of a DNA test conducted by experts in that field following the recovery of human skulls and other remains at an uncompleted site near Kansaworodo by the Police some weeks back. This was after a merry-go-round one of the suspects took personnel of the Police Service through after the kidnapping of the young ladies. Time and resources of all kinds were spent travelling to and from Nigeria in search of our children, sisters, daughters and nieces by our security agencies, all in the hope and belief that the ladies were alive and that no cost was too high to rescue them.
In the midst of all the agitations, the protestations and demonstrations by aggrieved residents of my beloved Twin-city dwellers and the wailings and gnashing of teeth, the sleepless nights of the parents and close relations, the pleas by the general society to the Police to help rescue the young ladies, the media mounting a campaign of bring our children back and the voices of assurances from the Police and men and women in high places, yours truly kept his cool and just wondered what is happening in our modern world.
That, young school going people would be kidnapped by unknown criminals for whatever reason in this country generally and in our relatively peaceful Sekondi- Takoradi, was a matter I could and still do not understand. Ordinarily, kidnappers target the children or relations of wealthy people who can pay the ransom they demand for the release of those they kidnap. There was no and still no evidence that the families of the children kidnapped were in the category of wealthy people and therefore capable of paying the huge sums the kidnappers normally demand.
I had always suspected that the criminals in this act had other motives beyond making money from the parents or relations of these poor children. However, like many of us, I had refrained from writing or making public comments just as many thousands of the dwellers moaned the fate of the children privately in their homes, hoping though that our children would be rescued. Sadly, from the Press Conference held by the IGP last night, our search for the children has come to an end or so it seems.
The fears of all of us as parents, family members, as citizens of this country and as a government have come to an end. Fear, is a journey, sorrow is the end of that journey, so says Alan Paton. As I write this piece, the relatives of our beloved murdered children still cannot come to terms with the news that we have lost them. They still believe they are alive, how we all wish they are indeed alive but we can only hope that they are alive when we have material evidence that they are indeed alive.
Yes, we lose lives everyday throughout the country but not these gruesome murder of innocent children some of them yet to be in their prime particularly when we do not know how they were murdered, the pains and the torture they might have gone through before their death, is what will remain a sharp piercing pain in the hearts of their beloved relatives. They did not die on their sick beds, neither did they die through accidents. This is so difficult for a family to contend with, it is a pain for a whole nation and very repugnant when the suspects are foreigners from our own backyard, Nigeria.
Our security agencies, particularly the Police have come under severe attack by citizens and portrayed as ineffective institution incapable of protecting us as citizens particularly when the first suspect managed to escape from the cells. Yes, that was a painful blow to the investigations, but nonetheless, it was the same Police personnel who managed to re-arrest the suspect who still remains in the grips of the law.
No matter their foibles, these are the security agencies we have as a nation. Yes, it is our civic responsibilities to bring them in line where in our view we believe they are going wrong in the performance of their duties, but to totally denigrate the Service and make the personnel look irresponsible and accomplices of criminals will amount to undermining the confidence of the personnel to our own detriment.
I have had occasions to put out in the public domain, the conditions of the barrack where Police personnel live, very appalling and it is a problem nation- wide. I remember some uncompleted Police flats built all over the country by the Kutu Acheampong government were abandoned by successive governments until President Kufuor came to complete them. When next they are going to have decent accommodation built for them will only be left to time.
As a people, what we need to ask ourselves is that from where cometh these incidents of kidnapping? This is not to say that Ghanaians are angels. We have had our own share of criminals from within since Adam and would continue to have them, but when crimes of kidnapping are perpetrated on us by outsiders, then we should rise up and say no to this. The Founding Fathers of ECOWAS way back in 1975, meant to have free movements within the sub-region for the purposes of economic and trade relations.
If, however, that protocol which allows free movement and trade among member countries is being abused, and in its stead, criminals from countries are crossing the borders at will to commit such heinous crimes as it is being witnessed in this country in recent times, then we need to take another look at our membership of ECOWAS and its protocols. Do we need a referendum to decide that?
The petty crimes of pick pocketing which have graduated from breaking into homes to forcefully taking monies and property of families and individuals, snatching of cars on the highways, and other such crimes were in themselves too much of a problem for our security agencies to deal with. To deal with kidnapping, murders which in some cases see some vital parts of the human body taken away by unknown gangs, is a major threat to our safety and security.
This activity has imposed fresh challenges on our security agencies in the midst of inadequate personnel and modern gargets and equipment to fight such complex crimes. It is therefore a responsibility on us as citizens to be more security conscious than we have ever been. Security is primarily personal. We are less concerned about strangers who hover around us in our communities, we do not question them neither do we take proper look at them nor even stay away from them.
I have seen young people, ladies in particular, walking in the dark with their mobile phones stuck to their ears without a thought about any dangers. Parents do not care where their children are at very odd hours as they expose themselves to such criminals. As we mourn the death of our young ladies, lessons should be learnt that Ghana is not what it used to be. Safety First should be our guide.
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