You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2008 07 13Article 146642

Opinions of Sunday, 13 July 2008

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

The Scourge Of Armed Robbery In Ghana

Appiah Kusi Adomako, Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, Kumasi

It appears no single day goes off without an armed robbery incident been reported in the media. Coupled with the rate at which it occurs in the country is the tragic dimension on which armed robbery has taken in the country. Almost everybody in this country is a potential victim of robbery. This sometimes deposits a phantom of fear in the people. This menace is gradually eroding our name as a peaceful nation in turbulent West Africa. If people should live in a constant threat of robbery then it tells us the seriousness of the problem.

Gone were the days when lone ranger thieves were coming to our homes to steal stereo machines and video cassette players however, just less than two decades small pilfering has graduated to draconian armed robbery. Today when armed robbers storm in your home or office they no longer after sound systems or its equivalent but rather cash, jewels and mobile phones. Those days when they came they were not interested in taking their would-be victims life’s. Now what has become common about almost every armed robbery is also the attempt to take the life of the would-be victim. The newspapers report this everyday almost everyday.

At the Ecobank branch at Madina some weeks ago reminisces where the police man on duty was shot and killed a cold blood by some blood thirsty armed robbers. Almost every bank in the country faces the same threat of robbery-whether they take life or cash, it is a form of threat.

They also rob us in our homes, shops or places of business. Even on the highways, they are. May be this seems to be parallel with what David said in the book of Psalm that –‘how can I run away from your presence? Wherever I go you are there’. The seem to outnumber the police not only in number but also in their sophistication

Gradually, Ghana is gaining notoriety for this social evil. Already, our country has become a booming hub for intercontinental drug business. Criminologists say that there is a link between drugs and crime whether street burglary or armed robbery. We must know that the two evils are inter-related: drugs and crime.

I think that the criminologist can give us the reason why armed robbery is on ascendancy in the country. As people begin to move from the basement of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to the top of the hierarchy, human needs change from physiological to psychological needs. Since the economy of the country has improved over the last twenty years people’s needs in the country is not just for food and shelter. Rather Ghanaians are now moving into the part of security, love and affection. Of course, it is not the duty of the government to provide love and affection for its people. Government’s role here is to provide security for this people against external aggression, internal revolt or attack.

The rising spate of organized armed robbery in the country cannot be taken as a mere ephemeral, evanescent domestic issue that can be dismissed by government ministers as something that would reduce itself naturally. I am really happy about how the various aspirants for the 2008 presidential election have taken keen interest in addressing the issue. What needs to be done goes beyond mere political rhetoric. What is needed is strategy for action- a strategy that would bring this nefarious activity down to its knees.

THE WAY FORWARD It appears armed robbers, 419 scammers and drug barons in the country are a step ahead of the police and other state investigative apparatus. If we want to succeed in an attempt to nail armed robbery in the bud, then Ghana police service needs to be restructured to move from the outskirt excellence to the metropolis of sound and effective policing. The medieval ways of policing needs to be reviewed. Even some police stations in the cities do not have official telephones and vehicles for patrolling or chasing robbers.

In this era it is no longer an exaggeration that we down size our military strength by 30% and allocate the money to the police either by recruiting more personnel and also procurement of logistics. Parliament needs to pass law that can allow the police to monitor and intercept telephone conversations on all networks. This to some extent would help the police or the state security to be able to locate or identify armed robbers, drug peddlers and anybody with a diabolical intension. In developed countries, the police constantly monitoring calls have allowed them to arrest criminals and terrorists.

Technology can also be employed in the prevention and detection of crimes. The use of closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) can do a lot to prevent and also help in arresting criminals in all facets of life. In developed nation, you do not see any security man in front of a financial institution. Rather, every institution whether financial, academic or industrial has CCTV camera both inside and outside the building. This helps the camera to pick the images of anyone who comes to the building. The pursuit of the robbers who robbed the Ecobank Madina branch could have been easy if the bank had installed CCTV camera in-front of their premise. I would like to use this medium to suggest that the Bank of Ghana makes it mandatory for all banks in the country to install CCTV camera inside and outside their building. This will ward of criminals from coming to the bank to perform any act of robbery.

Since armed robbers use car to do their operation, all major roads in the cities and intersections could also have CCTV cameras installed. This too would help pick the faces and number plates of any car that uses the road. With this, the work of the police in pursuing armed robbers would be infinitely shorter.

In conclusion, we have within our reach to bring this principality down to its bended knees. It involves we the public giving information on suspected armed robbers to the police. It also requires the police to act with diligence in their work. What is required of the government is to equip the police with the state of the art equipment. We can do it, doing together what no one could do by itself.

E-mail: appiahkusiy2k@yahoo.com