'Kidnapping situation improved; government trusts police's professionalism' - Dery
The situation has improved as far as kidnappings are concerned, Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery has said.
Speaking at a meeting with the Ashanti regional police command as part of his visit to the region, Mr Dery said: “Let me put on record that the situation has improved greatly in this country”.
In 2013, he recalled, “There were 77 reported cases of kidnapping. In 2014, there were 76 reported cases of kidnapping. In 2018, there were 58 reported cases of kidnapping. In 2019, so far, there have been 47 reported cases of kidnapping”.
“But because of the improved performance of the police by expedited investigation, 21 of the 47 were found to be false; 17 people were rescued, 10 suspects arrested and 8 dockets prepared”.
As far as he was concerned, “You [Ghana Police Service] deserve a round of applause for your performance”, adding: “Let no one doubt your professionalism. … The most important thing is that you should know that the government has all the confidence in your professionalism”.
Between August 2018 and June 2019, Ghana grappled with some major kidnapping cases mostly involving Nigerian suspects.
The most-talked-about involves three Ghanaian ladies: 21-year-old Priscilla Blessing Bentum, last seen on 17 August 2018; 18-year-old Ruth Love Quayson, last seen on 4 December 2018; and 18-year-old Priscilla Mantebea Koranchie, last seen on 21 December 2018. They were abducted in the oil-rich city of Takoradi, capital of the Western Region (225 km from the national capital, Accra) – the country’s oil hub – which hosts oil giants Tullow, Kosmos, Anadarko and Sabre Oil & Gas. Together, they operate the Jubilee fields with the state-run Ghana National Petroleum Corporation.
Two Nigerians, Mr Samuel-Udoetuk Wills and Mr John Oji, are on trial for that abduction. The girls remain unfound.
Some human remains were dug out of the backyard of Wills a few weeks ago and are undergoing DNA testing to determine whether or not they are remains of the missing girls.
On 4 June 2019, the kidnapping of Canadians Lauren Tilley, 19; and Bailey Chitty, 20; grabbed international attention. The two students of the University of New Brunswick were in Ghana interning with Toronto-based not-for-profit organisation Youth Challenge International when they got kidnapped at the Royal Golf Club in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region (248 km from the national capital). Their abductors, three Nigerians and five Ghanaians, demanded an $800,000 ransom. The ladies were rescued a week later by Ghana’s security agencies. “No ransom was paid”, Ghana’s Minister of Information Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah told the media. The two ladies are back home.
Also, three Nigerians kidnapped the Consular-General and Head of Mission of Estonia to Ghana, Mr Nabil Makram Basbous, a Lebanese on 18 April 2019 as he worked out in his Labone neighbourhood. The suspects, the police said, bundled the 61-year-old diplomat into their white Hyundai Elantra after accosting him at gunpoint. He was rescued 23 km away from the national capital after 18 hours. The suspects are at large.
On 26 April 2019, a 30-year-old Indian businessman, Mr Umpakan Chodri was kidnapped, also in Kumasi by three unidentified men with Nigerian attributes. They demanded US$500,000 from his family. The police rescued the victim after several hours and still on the heels of the suspects.
In the same month, three Nigerians were arrested in a community called ‘Kasoa Chinese’ in the Central Region (about 31 km) from the national capital, for kidnapping and killing a two-year-old boy. The locals believe the suspects used the boy for money rituals.
On Sunday, 16 June 2019 at Mamobi, a Muslim-dominated suburb of Accra, one of four Nigerian suspects was arrested by the residents as he tried luring a four-year-old boy with a mobile phone. He was pummeled and almost lynched by a mob but later handed over to the police.