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Crime & Punishment of Tuesday, 9 January 2018


Prince, Pastors arrested in Upper East for armed robbery

Ten persons are in police custody in the Upper East region, among them a prince and two men said to be pastors, for allegedly starring in what has been described as a “Hollywood-styled” armed robbery operation.

Three foreign pistols, four magazines with their ammunition, eighty-six pieces of 9mm ammunition, a short gun and twelve BB cartridges, believed to have been used to inflict horror on some targets, were retrieved from the leader of the ‘lawless characters’ during a heavy swoop on their dens.

Intelligence reports say five of the suspects had attacked an orphanage at New Ningo in the Ningo-Prampram District of the Greater Accra region, where they beat the orphans “severely” and robbed staff of the home of six mobile phones and an unspecified cash in both foreign and local currencies. Investigations later revealed one Muntaka Mohammed (a dreadlocked prince) as the leader of the criminal cast.

“One of the phones the suspects took away from the orphanage was an iPhone. It was tracked to Circle where somebody was trying to decode it. Two suspects were arrested at Circle. During interrogations, they revealed that the phone was brought to them by someone to be decoded and they traced it to the Upper East region.

“The [Prampram Police] came to Bolgatanga (the Upper East regional capital) and, through the collaboration of the Regional CID and our SWAT team, they moved in to the chief’s palace at Gambibgo. We were able to invade the palace and arrested five suspects. It was observed that all five suspects took part in the robbery at New Ningo,” the Upper East Regional Police Commander, DCOP Redeemer Vincent Dedjoe, told journalists Monday at a news conference.

Three Nokia phones, a Samsung Galaxy S7, a Samsung Galaxy Duos, an Infinix Note, a Tecno tablet, a Tecno T349 and an HP laptop with its charger were recovered during the Gambibgo raid on Sunday, according to the police.

DCOP Dedjoe added: “During the operations, suspects Rufai Umoru (a Nigerian), aged 36, Otu Laryea Nevis, aged 27, Stephen Botey, aged 29, Adongbire Asampana, aged 24, and a wife of suspect Muntaka Mohammed were arrested. But Muntaka, the gang leader, managed to escape.”

Gang Leader Arrested inside a Bus

Around midnight after the Sunday raid, police stormed the Bolgatanga-Tamale Bust Terminus upon receiving a tipoff that Rasta-haired Muntaka was on board a loading bus in a bid to flee to the Northern region.

After his capture at the station, the ringleader reportedly made a confession which led to more arrests, including those of two suspects said to be ‘strong’ prayer-warrior pastors.

“Muntaka Mohammed mentioned suspects Israel Valentine Edoh also known as Pastor Valentine, aged 43, and Mike Osuji, aged 48, who are Nigerians, as the persons who asked him to bring weapons to assist them rob a gold businessman at a mining site at Gbani (in the Talensi District). Suspect Muntaka Mohammed led the team to the Kings and Queens Hotel at Bukere, a suburb of Bolgatanga, and they were arrested.

“Suspect Israel Valentine Edoh also mentioned suspect Musah Issah as his informant who told him that there is a businessman who has gold and money in his house and want him to organise robbers to rob him. The said Musah Issah also mentioned suspect Daniel Adosi, also known as Pastor Dan, aged 52, as the one who introduced suspect Israel Valentine Edoh to him. Subsequently, suspect Daniel Adosi was arrested. Police from Prampram came here; we collaborated with them; coordinated properly, leading to the arrests that we have made so far. They will all be taken to Tema,” the Regional Commander explained.

Why Armed Robbers now Hide at Palaces

Police say it has become a trend for crime suspects in the region to seek sanctuary at palaces in the belief that the country’s law enforcement agencies would least expect them to be hiding there.

“Sometimes, we chase people. They would run into a chief’s palace. That ends it. You won’t get them. You’d go there; they would say nobody has entered the house. But in this latest incident, the chief was not aware the suspects were at his palace. We took the palace by surprise.

“We want to diffuse that notion that crime has no safe haven. The only safe haven you can have is prisons, but not in a chief’s palace. What we want them to realise is that they think Upper East is a safe haven. But we want to assure all the armed robbers out there that Upper East is rather a furnace— a hell on earth. If you come here, you will get burnt. You will get burnt,” warned DCOP Dedjoe.

In a related development, another suspect with artificial dreadlocks, Aduku Wahabu Awinitit, alias Bullet, was nabbed at a “hotel” at Binaba in the Bawku West District. He was wanted for his reported role in a series of robbery incidents at Ashaiman in the Greater Accra region.

All ten suspects were paraded at the Upper East Regional Police Headquarters. Some residents gathered in the yard, looking awed in silence at the “involvement” of a beautiful young woman they thought should have rather mounted a beauty-pageant stage for a coveted crown and not stand side by side to share handcuffs with an armed robbery gang on a distasteful stage.