You are here: HomeNews2010 09 28Article 194143

Opinions of Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Columnist: Bannerman, Samuel

Armed Robbery and Public Insecurity in Ghana

By Samuel Bannerman, Indianapolis, In.

The recent brazen slaying of a policeman by armed robbers in Kumasi speaks
volumes of the state of public insecurity in Ghana as a consequence of what
appears to be an armed robbery epidemic. This incident should serve as a wake
up call for Ghanaians to start asking the right questions of those with the
responsibility for providing our security.

Prior to the 2008 elections, no less a person than Dr J E A Mills diagnosed the
armed robberies as “contract killings” and not mere robberies. The innuendo was
that the NPP government had a hand in the killings, especially that of the
former Deputy Managing Director of the Ghana Commercial Bank, Roko Frimpong, who
was gunned down in cold blood at his residence.

In a sense, these robberies became a political football. In the Roko Frimpong
case, though some alleged culprits were arrested and continue to remain in
custodial remand, the Mills government advanced a competing theory for the
crime, and arrested some military personnel on the allegation that they did the
vile deed at the behest of the NPP to ensure Mr Frimpong did not live to reveal
embarrassing details about the government’s hand in some shady practices during
the 2007 redenomination exercise. Of course all of this was just rubbish. The
government was forced to drop its pathetic case against the military men when it
could not conjure the necessary evidence for trial. Meanwhile, the previously
identified culprits continued to be in custody, even as the State was pursuing a
parallel prosecution in respect of the murder. In all of this, the family of Mr
Frimpong has continued to suffer, as there has been no closure, and they have
become victims of myriad theories surrounding the brutal killing of a loved one
Another case that comes to mind is the even more horrifying murder of business
executive Kwame Kyei Apenteng-Mensah at McCarthy Hill in July 2009. This case
demonstrated that robberies and murders are not exclusive to the NPP era, but
rather may reflect a pattern of brutality and criminality that has taken root in
our society. Once again, various theories circulated regarding this murder, and
not just armed robbery. One theory was that the deceased was murdered as payback
for his failure to deliver on a contract to help some drug dealers escape
justice. Another theory was that the murder is one of the many results of the
bitter and complex family feud raging in the Apenteng family after the death of
family patriarch and business mogul K M Apenteng of Pambros Salts fame. In
support of this theory, rumours swirled that one of the victim’s relatives
organised the cleaning up of the crime scene before any investigation could take
place, thereby contaminating the crime scene and hampering investigations.
Observers also noted that the deceased had several defensive and torture wounds,
and hence it is implausible that none of his co-residents in the family house
failed to hear anything unusual when he was being killed. Coincidentally, the
Odorkor District Police Crime Officer, DSP Baffour Apenteng in charge of the
investigations carries the same family name as the Apenteng family, and it is
rumoured that he has suppressed evidence that would point to some family
members. None of these theories appear to have been investigated, or at least we
have been told nothing.

This is the whole point. Can victims expect justice in Ghana ? Are cases being
apolitically and effectively? Is it not curious that the police manage to track
down culprits when a fellow policeman is killed, as happened in the recent
Kumasi case, as well as the 1998 case of Taller and Kweku Ninja ( remember
that?) Ghanaian society must ask more of the state. The state owes a duty of
care to all to ensure that law abiding citizens can go about their lives without
fear of violent criminals. The starting point is to apprehend the wretched