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General News of Thursday, 3 April 2003

Source: GNA

Armed robberies have reduced drastically - Minister

Figures released by the Police indicate that the spate of armed robberiers that engulfed the country and the Greater Accra Region in particular two years ago, have drastically reduced.

For instance, between November and December 2002 and January 2003 there were 123 robberies, an average of 41 per month in Accra, but this went down to 17 in February and 10 in March.

This positive development could be attributed to the arrest of 70 robbers, who were involved in various robberies in the Accra Metropolis.

Sheik Ibrahim C. Quaye, Greater Accra Regional Minister and Chairman of the Regional Security Council (REGSEC), who announced this to the press on Wednesday, praised the security agencies for their vigilance and hard work.

At the Press Conference, which was purposely to apprise the media on the security situation in the Region, Sheik Quaye explained that the spate of armed robbery went up beyond comprehension just after the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government came into office in 2000.

This he attributed to lack of logistics for the security agencies to adequately and effectively deal and confront the robbers at that time.

He said the security agencies were now equipped with the necessary communication gadgets and logistics in addition to about 500 vehicles countrywide with Greater Accra having 80.

Sheik Quaye, therefore, gave an assurance to the international community as well as foreign investors and the general public that they were safe in the country since the government was determined to stop entirely the robberies.

On behalf of the Regional Police Command he appealed to the public for valuable information leading to the arrest of other criminals on the run.

He re-emphasized that cash rewards were awaiting any informant, who helped the Police to arrest such criminals, with a minimum of 200,000 cedis and a maximum of one million cedis.

The Minister also announced that various passports and several vehicles had been recovered by the Police and were either given to the owners or parked at the regional headquarters and asked victims to contact the Regional Crime Officer for inspection, identification and collection.

Sheik Quaye expressed concern about the level of chieftaincy and land disputes in the Region.

He said from Langma, a community close to Kasoa to Ada, Dodowa and Amansaman there appeared to be no single town or clan without a chieftaincy or land disputes.

He said among communities that kept the security agencies "unnecessarily busy" were Weija, Oblogo, Bortianor, Ablekuma, La, Teshie, Nungua, Tema, Pokuase, Prampram and Ada, where many people have been killed or maimed as a result of those disputes.

He said since the issue was of greater concern to the REGSEC, it had directed the Police to arrest and prosecute any person including chiefs and organised youth, who breached the peace of residents in various communities.

He also appealed to the chiefs and traditional rulers to pursue peaceful dialogue in settling disputes and do away with notorious land guards but use the judiciary and other traditional methods to resolve disputes.

Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Kofi Boakye announced that 20 million cedis had so far been paid to Police informants, who played major roles in the drastic reduction of robberies.

He said the Police had discovered all links and activities of the robbers and were being monitored closely for action to be taken on them to curb the menace.

Mr Boakye said most of the guns retrieved from the robbers were locally manufactured and sold to the robbers by land guards, who claimed some chiefs gave them to them to guard their lands.

He said very soon a scheme would be instituted to reward informants who gave the Police information about people who manufactured or sold local guns.

He also appealed to the people to abide by the rules and laws of the land and to see the Police as their friends.

Three armed robbery victims, who described their ordeals at the press conference, appealed to the government to provide the security agencies with bullet proof and other gadgets to adequately protect themselves before they confront the criminals.

They also advised the public not to struggle with armed robbers should they attack them but rather give them whatever they asked for to save their life.