Ebo Quansah in Accra
It is getting out of hand. Crime in Ghana is becoming synonymous with Nigerians, I am afraid. Of late, there is hardly any crime reported in Ghana without the involvement of a Nigerian.
“The impression people have here is that every Nigerian is a criminal,” says DSP Freeman Tetteh, Accra Regional Police Command Public Relations Officer. He told an interactive programme involving Nigerian youths in Accra that the situation has got so bad that most Ghanaians have lost hope in the average Nigerian.
He told the youths that there were hard-working Nigerians in this country but the nefarious activities of a few hardened criminals had rubbed off on all Nigerians living in Ghana.
The Police Public Relations Officer said there were hard-working and highly- educated Nigerians living in Ghana: “But the activities of some hardened criminals have led to the situation where Ghanaians have lost confidence in the average Nigerian.
“I am not saying that Ghanaians are not criminals. In fact, some of them have teamed up with your nationals to perpetrate these heinous acts. Wherever we record cases of armed robbery and fraud, Nigerians are always involved. If they are five persons incriminated, three are likely to be Ghanaians, the remaining two Nigerians and vice-versa.”
This rev elation comes on the wheels of the announcement that four Ghanaians have been deported from Nigeria back to Ghana. An official report sourced to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in Ghana, said the four Ghanaians resident in Nigerian had been deported for the falsification of Nigerian identity.
The publication reported further that following the deportation of the Ghanaians who have already arrive d home, the ministry has admonished Ghanaians in Nigeria to ensure that they complied with the law in their resident country.
My interest in this particular story goes beyond the admonition to Ghanaian nationals in Nigeria to acquire the relevant resident papers. For me, the deportation of the four Ghanaians should serve as a wake-up call to Ghanaian authorities to take a hard look at the activities of Nigerians in Ghana.
In my opinion, thousands of Nigerians deserved to be repatriated from Ghana to Nigeria. Crime involving Nigerians is soaring every day. We cannot pretend to continue in the business as usual mode.
Last month, the Achimota Police in Accra, arrested a suspected cyber crime syndicate in Accra. 29 out of the 30 suspects were Nigerians. The only Ghanaian involved was roped in because he was the driver of a taxi cab used by the criminals.
Items retrieved from the suspected robbers include 34 laptops and 48 mobile phones. The suspects were also linked to a dead body that was found wrapped at
the Apenkwa neighbourhood in Accra.
The suspects were named as Ike Ofu, 24: Ike Idouzi, 23; Blessing Adebayo, 25; Awudu Abdul Razak, 23; Daley Emmanuel, 26; Moses Modjaki, 36; Onaghnise Osahou, 24; Peter Andrews, 25; Benjamin Ikhumeze, 25; Kelvin Osayi, 23; Oforufemi Adrigu, 25; Anthony Irughe, 22; KeIlvin Uche, 22 and Timothy Irughe, 22.
The lists of suspects included Elvis Uzegbu, 24; Owen Zakari, 24; Joe Steve Ogbozu, 29; Festus Owubu, 25; Abrahim Femi, 24; Suleman Abudu, 25; Age Michael, 25; Philip Agbariaha, 25; Nathaniel Owobu, 27; Teddy Atigbin, 23; Henry Onege, 27; Daniel Ukuokolo, 21; Osas Uhuns, 22; Kelvin Ola 23; Lucky Osahou, 21 and Yakubu Dido, 26.
DCOP Osabarima Oware Asare Pinko II, Accra Regional Commander, told newsmen in the national capital that the police, acting on a tip-off kept the house under surveillance before conducting the swoop. “The suspects were all living in one big house from where they undertake their nefarious activities.”
He told newsmen that a search conducted on the dead body indicated that the person might have been killed somewhere before being dumped at the site. Evidence pointed to the fact that the deceased was a member of the Nigerian gang that had gone missing and that he might have been killed to shut him up.
“The information was that he was beaten to death and was wrapped and dumped there for leaking the group’s activities to a third party who we cannot name. They saw it as betrayal. We are investigating this case in addition to the cyber crime,” the Police Commander assured.
The capo said in addition to the electronic items that were retrieved from the crime scene, the police found wrapped substances suspected to be Indian Hemp. In another operation involving Nigerians in Accra New Town police collected 179 wrapped dried leaves suspected to be Indian hemp, 61 wrapped white substances suspected to be narcotic drugs and 65 wrapped rock-like materials suspected to be another form of narcotic drugs.
The suspected picked up and who is in custody in respect of the kidnapping of the three Takoradi girls, is a Nigerian. The suspicion is that more Nigerians are involved in that kidnapping and many other unsolved kidnapping and other c rimes. The girls are feared to have been transported to Nigeria.
It would not be right to suggest that the image of Nigerians in Ghana is all crime. There are a number of Nigerian businesses aiding the Ghanaian economy. Dangotey Cement, for instance, has helped to make the price of cement in this country reasonably stable.
The Nigerian telecommunication company GLO is also on the market doing brisk business. In the banking industry, Nigerian-owned banks like United Bank of Africa, Access, Zenith and Guaranteed Trust Bank etc. are aiding the Ghanaian economy. Unfortunately, in spite of these positive business indications from Nigerian-owned enterprises, the image of our eastern neighbours in this country is that of criminals. And that is why not only should authorities check their influx into this country, many of those arriving without the necessary documentation, ought to be returned.
Nigerians are arriving in frightening numbers and many of them are taking advantage of the weakness in the system to cheat and commit heinous crimes.
I lived in London for 13 and half years as a refugee. I was a member of the Leytonstone Police Council at a point time. The differences between Ghanaians residents and Nigerians residing in Britain in times of crime, was staggering at that point in time.
While many Ghanaian werebe arrested for mainly over-staying their visas, most Nigerians were cited for more serious crimes like cyber and money laundering. I dare state that the average Nigerian is more likely to be involved in crime than perhaps any other national in the Economic Community of West African States.
That is why, I for instance, shudder at the idea of a common currency for English-Speaking West Africans. I fear that the Eco being touted as the likely currency, would easily be illegally printed by criminals, most likely to be Nigerians.
I am not xenophobic. But I am inclined to believe that crime is on the increase in Ghana primarily because of the large number of Nigerians loafing around.
Following the attempted kidnapping of a Lebanese by people identified as Nigerians in Tema recently, a group of Nigerians resident in Ghana volunteered to support the police to flush out Nigerian criminals in the country.
Project Advisor to the Nigerian Business Forum, Oluye Yemi Fatuyi pledged the readiness of his organization to support the police by every means possible. “We are here to give our support to the Ghana Police Service,” he told the Greater Accra Police Command.
“We are not professionals like you. We are not police but we can give you information. We can get the information within our communities and give it to you, he assured.
He said Nigerians involved in crime would not be happy with their statement. But they are resolute to point out the vagabonds even if it will lead to reprisals attacks on their families back home.
The Acting Accra Regional Police Commander DCOP Kwaku Boadi Peprah welcomed the gesture and thanked his guests which looked like an impressive gesture on paper.
For me though, the only tangible solution is to send thousands of Nigerians arriving without jobs and ready-made materials for perpetrating crime, back home. Nigeria may have deported four Ghanaians. I will like to believe thousands of Nigerians deserve to be sent home too. They are a complete nuisance in Ghana. I shall return!