The more I decide to quit publishing my views on national issues to mind my own business, the more pressing issues requiring my intelligence and wisdom keep cropping up. I cannot let go the current spate of sophisticated robberies without chipping in to offer advice and or suggestions.
From a phone call I made to Ghana on the night of Wednesday, 18 July 2018, I was told how some robbers armed with some weapons of some sort, recently cut large holes into about six metal container-shops in Asante-Effiduase to steal everything inside. This has cost the owners money running into tens or hundreds of thousands of Ghana Cedis.
What will become the ultimate fate of those who had borrowed money from the banks or from friends and families to operate the shops?
When the case was reported to the police and the owners inquired how the unknown robbers could so easily cut into about six metal containers placed side by side each other without any detection by the public, although the containers are in the vicinity of the Effiduase lorry park hence in the centre of the town, the police said the robbers used acid to weaken the metal before cutting the holes into them.
Additionally, latest audio messages on WhatsApp by different persons of Ghanaian origin but resident overseas in various countries indicate how some workers at certain banks and Money Transfer Centres in Ghana have been robbing them of their hard-earned money. From those duped, they narrate their stories as follows.
When they remit money through Western Union, Money Gram etc., to their family members at home (Ghana), some workers there have devised a clever way of stealing the money from the designated recipients.
How do they do it, someone who might not have heard the audio messages trending on WhatsApp may ask? According to the authors of the audio-warning messages, when the nominated family member or person to whom the money was sent goes to the Bank or the Money Transfer Centre to collect the money, after the worker there has asked to see their identity card, taken copies of it and got their code number, he or she then tells the person that there is no money available so they should go and come back the next day when hopefully, money will be available to pay them.
The person who attended to you and took your details, secretly keeps a copy of your written information and while you are away hoping to return the next day as suggested, does process the payment to him or herself or any of their colluding agents. When you return the next day as promised, anyone receiving you will tell you that you have already collected the money. This is because they already have a copy of your identity card, forms you filled in bearing your signature and the code number etc. to justify that indeed you have taken the money.
Have we seen the level the Ghanaians have taken their armed and/or pen robbery? They are becoming more sophisticated by the day to outwit the Security forces but Rockson may have a very rudimentary method of thwarting their efforts. We can do as following; some of which may purely be reintroducing what used to exist sometime past.
Every town must start re-introducing Community Vigilantism. It must not be politically-oriented but safety and protection of the community-oriented. At nightfall, those volunteering to protect the community can mount road blocks and patrol their designated areas of the town. They can run in shifts and the community must contribute a little money to help them do the job. With this, it will make it difficult for people to cut into metal kiosks or containers to deplete their contents without being apprehended.
Whenever you go to the bank or any Money Transfer Centre to receive your money remitted from abroad or within the country, first ask to know if they have enough funds to pay you after telling them how much you have come to collect. It is upon telling you yes that you have to show them your identity card and then disclose your code number.
In case you make a mistake by giving the cashier or the bank or the Money Transfer Centre clerk or staff your details and then they tell you there is no money, take the name of the person, and get your conversation recorded on your mobile phone for evidence and insist that the money should not be given to anybody except you, who will be coming back with the original document. You can even ask to speak to the Bank Manager or the staff member’s line Manager. Do this to get a witness before you leave the bank premises. Let us do this to make it harder for them to steal your money.
Unless the Managers of the Banks or the Money Transfer Centres are colluding with such staff members on what amounts to “create, loot and share” , the trait of corrupt Ghanaians, the Manager should cause the immediate arrest of any staff member who is identified by the victim as having been the person seen the day before who took his/her details.
When such thieves are taken to court, the judges should not hesitate to convict them to long jail terms to serve as deterrence to other would-be thieves.
If you are going to cash a remittance, by this I mean to say, collect money remitted to you from abroad or from within the country, get a trusted friend to accompany you to bear you witness or give you a cover. I understand some robbers can even shadow you to rob you after leaving a bank or Money Transfer Centre with your collected money.
We should take all the necessary measures to deal these robbers a never-to-forget blow. The police must patrol the towns at night. Once more, I shall suggest to the President of Ghana and his government to bring out the military from their barracks to help quell the daily ramifying robberies in the country.