Story: Samuel Duodu, Sunyani
THREE of the five armed robbers who attacked Ntotroso, Gyedu and Wamanhinso, all in the Asutifi District of the Brong Ahafo Region, on December 31, last year have been arrested by a joint police and military patrol team.
The three, Kwaku Boganga, 20, an apprentice auto electrician, Abass Musah 19, a driver, and Issah Mensah, 18, were arrested by the patrol team deployed to ensure peaceful Christmas festivities at the Sunyani Tuosom Estate Junction on the Sunyani-Atronie road.
The two others are on the run.
The robbers were in possession of five locally-manufactured pistols, including one shotgun with live cartridges, a dagger and masks.
According to the police, the robbers, who are in custody, confessed during interrogation that they had been recruited from Kumasi to rob a rich traditional ruler at Ntotroso but they had failed in that bid when information got to the town before their operation.
Briefing the Daily Graphic in Sunyani, the Brong Ahafo Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) James Oppong-Boanuh, said a combined team of police and military personnel on night patrol around 12.30 a.m. on New Year's Eve intercepted a Nissan bus belonging to the Opportunities Industrialisation Centre (OIC) office at Ntotroso, which the robbers had stolen for their operations.
He said the team signalled the vehicle to stop but the driver ignored them and sped off.
DCOP Oppong-Boanuh said the team gave the robbers a chase and they later abandoned the vehicle at a section of the road and took to their heels. But the police chased them and managed to arrest Boganga, while the others escaped. When Boganga was searched, the police found a locally-manufactured pistol with live cartridges on him.
DCOP Oppong-Boanuh said Boganga told the police that the five had arrived in Sunyani on December 30, 2007 and lodged with one Mallam Fuseini, who lives at the Sunyani Zongo.
He said the robbers told the police that they waited till 9.30 p.m., after which their host gave them a bag which contained weapons.
DCOP Oppong-Boanuh said the robbers went in a taxi to Ntotroso, with the intention of robbing the rich traditional ruler, but they could not get to the chief's residence because there was a records dance going on in the middle of the town.
He said before the robbers could go to the chief's house, they decided to go to the OIC office where they attacked the night watchman, beat him severely, plastered his mouth and ordered him to show them the keys to the Nissan bus. When he did so, they drove the bus away.
The Regional Police Commander told the Daily Graphic that on their way, the robbers met a young man who was a member of the Community Protection Unit and threatened him at gunpoint but he managed to flee and reported the incident to the police. Later, he said information spread through town that there were armed robbers in the town, adding that the youth of the town barricaded the road but the 19-year-old expert driver, Abass Musah, managed to manoeuvre his way with the bus and escaped.
He said when they got to Gyedu, the robbers attacked a petrol dealer, Zurinka Na, 45, who had no money on him at that time, for which reason the robbers subjected him to severe beatings and when he tried to struggle with them he was shot in the thigh, the right hand and the scrotum.
Zurinka Na is currently receiving treatment at the Hwidiem Government Hospital.
DCOP Oppong-Boanuh said the robbers then moved to the next town, Wamahinso, around 11.15 p.m., attacked a provision shop owner, Kwame Odoko, and robbed him of GH¢450 and packets of cigarette and fled, amidst the firing of warning shots.
Having left on their way to Sunyani, the robbers jumped a police barrier on the road but when the joint patrol team signalled them to stop they refused and they were chased and arrested.
The Regional Police Commander told the Daily Graphic that the police contacted all lorry stations in Sunyani to look out for four young men who met the description of the robbers. He said around 2.00 a.m. the police received information from a taxi driver that two young men had hired him to Kumasi but he told them that he needed to look for one other person to join them.
He said when the taxi driver alerted the police, they quickly moved in to arrest the two and when they were brought to the station, Boganga identified them as his accomplices.
A search on the other two revealed three locally-manufactured pistols, a sharp knife and a mask.
DCOP Oppong-Boanuh gave the assurance that the police had mounted a hunt for the two who were at large.