General News of Wednesday, 5 February 2014
Residents of Agape near Accra are living in fear because of threats from a gang which calls itself the Armed Robbers Association (ARA).
The gang had given the residents of the community a deadline of December 30, 2013 to pay not less than GH¢500 per tenant in each household to avoid incurring its wrath.
But the residents have failed to meet that deadline, for which reason the gang continues to harass them.
“We don’t know what to do. We are living in fear because we do not know when they will attack us,” one resident told the Daily Graphic yesterday.
One day in December, 2013, the residents woke up to find notices posted on their walls, gates, electricity poles and other places, directing them to pay the said amount through MTN mobile money.
The notice, which was issued by the President of the ARA, had the MTN number 0544133436 as the number to which the residents were to pay the money.
After paying the amount, the residents were also expected to call the same number to inform the association that the money had been paid and also indicate their house numbers.
The notice indicated further that the decision to solicit money from the residents was taken at a board meeting of the association.
A copy of the typed notice, titled Armed Robbers Association and printed on an A-4 sheet, read:
“We thank God for your life’s. The year have ended and we want every body to celebrate the New Year in peace.(sic)
“ARA went for a board meeting and we decided that all tenantes should pay something small to us, but no less than five hundred Ghana Cedis (GH¢500.00). (sic)
“Please send the money to MTN mobile money number: 0544133436.”
Beneath the notice was a handwritten note in red ink which said, “If you send your money, call us and give us the number of your area.”
Calls made by some residents to the mobile number were sometimes answered by a man who described himself as the president of the ARA, while in some cases the phone was switched off.
A resident of Agape told the Daily Graphic that the landlords association of the area organised an emergency meeting to discuss the way the issue could be addressed after the notices were seen.
She said initially the residents agreed to ignore the threat, but the gang sent a second threat that its operation would start with the burning of cars and property.
Another resident, who said he moved to the area after completing his house in 1995, said, “Most of us have enforced security in our home. But we cannot tell if we are safe.”
The issue was immediately reported to the Anyaa and Odorkor Police, which sent officers to the ground and intensified their patrols.
However, the threats persisted and the Odorkor Police Command, therefore, re-enforced its search for the members of the gang.
The Odorkor Police District Commander, Superintendent Abraham Acquaye, confirmed the incident to the Daily Graphic.
He said investigations had established that there were about 80 members of the association.
He assured the residents that “the police are on top of the issue. We are working around the clock to ensure that they are safe”.
The Accra Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Mr Christian Tetteh Yuhuno, told the Daily Graphic that the police had arrested a man suspected to be the kingpin of the association.
The suspect, Samiru Salifu, who had been on the police wanted list for five years, was arrested after exchanging gunshots with the police.
He was arrested from his hideout at Ablekuma Fan Milk, near Agape, on Thursday, January 2, 2014 on a tip off.
The 27-year-old unemployed had been on the police wanted list for allegedly engaging in robbery at residential areas and filling stations, and for other violent crimes.
Items retrieved from the suspect included two pump action guns, a pistol, a long dagger, 60 rounds of pistol pellets, six rounds of AA cartridges and three mobile phones.