Armed robbery is threatening to overwhelm the security services. Hardly a day passes without horrifying stories of hard-working nationals being held hostage by thieves whose sole intention is to kill. It puts all of us on notice to be extra-vigilant.
We concede though, that no amount of vigilance could stem the tide of ruthless men, and occasionally women, wielding arms and holding their captives hostage. Homes have been robbed and their occupants killed or maimed, just because someone with access to firearms insists on taking hold of properties and monies he or she has no hand in acquiring. It used to be a phenomenon in affluent neighbourhoods.
Now, our highways have been dragged into the ruthless demand where the gun rules supreme.
For the past one month, one of the topics that has dominated discussions in the body politic is highway robbery.
From Amina Mohammed’s rendition on a Tema-based radio station, which was badly handled by the police, to the Asankragwa highway murder recounted somewhere in this publication, our roads are threatening to become death transit quarters and robbery avenues.
Our police are being overwhelmed by the sheer intensity and frequency of robbery cases. The Chronicle would like to suggest the drafting of the military into the anti-robbery squad currently dominated by police officers.
Already, the collaborative effort of police and military in town patrols is yielding fruits. We would like to suggest the drafting of more military men and women into the fight to minimise robbery on our highways.
The military tend to strike more fear into hardened criminals than the men and women in the black uniform.
By their training, men and women in the khaki uniform are likely to be more adept at weapons handling. That is why we would like to suggest, for the attention of the authorities, to involve the military more in highway patrol duties.
Our police men and women are trying their very best to contain the situation. But, with only 16,000 of them to cater for every aspect of policing the state, they are numerically deficient to protect the people of this nation adequately. We are looking at a scenario where mobile military units are deployed on major trouble spots on our highways.
In making this suggestion, we are not unaware of the cost implications. It will obviously cost a lot to camp soldiers at vantage points on the highway and feed them.
But, the military have the set-up already in place. They have the catering services to serve meals, medical personnel to take care of their health, and laundry to ensure that they could change their clothes when the need arises.
We believe in the end, it would be cheaper to involve the military in this exercise, than moving policemen to trouble spots all the time.
It would be argued that the military was set up to fight battles, and not to police our highway. We concede that internal security is not the core business of the military, but in this age, when external aggression is becoming remote, especially, in our part of the world, the military could be re-deployed for the security of the state.
Armed robbers strike fear in the citizenry. In peace-time, it is not the very best to live in perpetual fear of robbery when our soldiers could be deployed to minimise the threat. Let those directing the ship of state consider involving the military to straighten the route to peace and tranquility.
In the interim, we would like to congratulate our police for trying with difficulties to deal with the menace of armed robbery. Robbers are killers. We are of the firm conviction that the proper place for killers is the cemetery. Forward with the march to rid this society of armed robbers!