Police place GH¢20,000 bounty on James Town bullion van robbers

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Prof. Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, Dr Festus Kofi Aubyn and Mr Adib Saani
Prof. Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, Dr Festus Kofi Aubyn and Mr Adib Saani

The police administration has placed a GH¢20,000 bounty on the heads of the robbers who attacked a bullion van at James Town in Accra on Monday, resulting in the death of a policeman and a civilian.

The Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Police Service, Superintendent Mrs Sheila Kessie Abayie-Buckman, told the Daily Graphic Tuesday that anyone whose information would lead to the arrest of any of the suspects would be given GH¢20,000.

Tackle crime

Meanwhile, three security analysts have underscored the need to strengthen the entire criminal justice system, with particular emphasis on police intelligence, investigations and prosecution of alleged criminals.

Additionally, they said it was imperative for the government to make conscious efforts to tackle systematic challenges, such as unemployment, to dissuade the youth from venturing into crime.

The three experts are the Director of Academic Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Professor Emmanuel Kwesi Aning; the Regional Director in charge of Research and Capacity Building at the West Africa Network for Peace-Building (WANEP), Dr Festus Kofi Aubyn, and the Executive Director of the Jatikay Centre for Human Security and Peace-Building, Mr Adib Saani.

They were reacting to the recent surge in crime, the last being last Monday’s attack of a car carting money in Accra which resulted in the death of a policeman and a civilian.

The brazenness with which the armed robbers launched the attack, right in the centre of the capital city and in broad daylight, shook the very foundations of the nation and led to intense public discourse on public safety.

The robbery led the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr James Oppong-Boanuh, to issue a threat to stop policemen from escorting vehicles carting money if banks did not provide fortified armoured vehicles for such purposes by the end of June this year.

Make crime unattractive

Prof. Aning said the best approach to curbing crime went beyond just the arrest of criminals or the protection of policemen.

He said criminal justice institutions must be empowered to make crime unattractive.

“If you look at the number of violent crimes, vis-à-vis the percentage of arrest of the perpetrators, those prosecuted and the percentage of those jailed, you will notice that the probability of committing crime and going free is very high.

“There is, therefore, a perception that one can commit crime and go free, and that has contributed to the culture of impunity that is getting out of hand,” he said.
Prof. Aning described the IGP’s threat to withdraw policemen from escorting vehicles carrying money as “too little, too late”.

He said the fact of policemen escorting vehicles carrying money was not new; again, it was not the first time a policeman had been shot dead while escorting such a vehicle.

Nonetheless, he expected the police administration to be more proactive.

“I would have thought that the police would acquire those armoured vehicles and use them to generate funds internally by hiring them to the banks when they want to transport money,” he said.

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Other factors

For Dr Aubyn, the government must tackle the root causes of rampant crime and extreme violence in the country

He said vigilantism, youth unemployment, injustice, marginalisation, discrimination, religious intolerance and ethnic tension were some of the factors that could push the youth to engage in criminal activities and also join extremist groups.

According to him, while law enforcement needed to be strengthened, it was extremely important that more investment be made to tackle such crimes, while there was the political will to back such investment.

Protect policemen

Mr Saani, for his part, said more needed to be done to protect policemen who dedicated and sacrificed their lives to protect the public.

He condemned the IGP’s threat to withdraw policemen escorting vehicles carrying money, stressing that such a threat should have been carried out long ago.

“The police administration must, as a matter of principle and urgency, halt police escort services for vehicles carrying money until the banks do the needful,” he said.

Preliminary investigations by the police indicated that the robbers, who were wielding AK47 rifles, attacked the vehicle carrying the money after crossing it on motorbikes.

This has rekindled the debate on the use of motorbikes by some criminals to perpetrate crime.

Supt Abayie-Buckman told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the police had vigorously been ensuring that only persons who had the requisite licences used motorcycles.

“We have been conducting a number of swoops on motorcycles to enforce the law,” she stated.

The police spokesperson said it was a worrying trend that motorcycles had become a major feature in all facets of life in the country, with criminal elements taking advantage of it.

Apart from enforcing the law against unlicensed motorcycles, she said, the police administration had also recommended to the appropriate authorities to ban their use in certain places.

“Certain actions can be taken to restrict the movement of motorcycles in some areas. These actions, however, require the force of law. The police administration has made the recommendation to the appropriate quarters for the necessary legal support,” she added.

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