The chief of the Nigerian community in Kasoa, Nana Kessington Oledo has revealed that out of every 10 crimes committed in the area, his fellow Nigerians are responsible for six.
The situation, he said, has been a source of grave concern to the local police commander, who has constantly complained to him to help the situation by getting through to his settler-subjects.
The revelation was made during Accra100.5FM’s maiden Dialogue which focused on the security situation in that part of Ghana.
The quarterly Dialogue, the first of which was held on Friday, 23 April 2021 at the Mikado Conference Centre in Accra, brought together lawyers, traditional leaders, local government analysts, security persons, government appointees, grassroots people, residents of Kasoa, students and other stakeholders to tease out the factors underpinning the insecurity in the area nestled between the boundaries of Greater Accra and Central Regions.
In his contribution, the Nigerian chief said he found it frustrating that the law enforcement bodies – Ghana Police Service and Ghana Immigration Service – repetitively allow themselves to be bribed by Nigerian suspects who get caught in the claws of the law.
“You see, this is a very delicate issue and like you said, references have been made to Nigerians particularly, which are very true because when you go to Kasoa, you see instances where; like I was with the chief of police at Millennium City and he told me: ‘Chief, you have to do something about this; every 10 reported cases at the police station is 6/10 of Nigerians’. You have six cases of Nigerians in every 10 cases reported at the police station; why is that so?’
“From my observation and analysis, I noticed that when you see people and notice that these people are unqualified to live in our society but you can’t take the opportunity [to deal with them] because you are making some corner money from it, then you are constituting a nuisance to the society yourself”, he complained.
“What I suggest is this: let us improve our services for the Ghana Immigration Service and Police Service so that when you get somebody, a Nigerian, particularly, because I’m a Nigerian chief in Gomoa Bantama, please don’t collect money from them. All because they want to give you GHS500, so, today you feel good because they want to give you some money. If they are wrong, please, let them face the law. Anybody at all, prosecute the person, send the person to court”.
“At the end of the day, the cases that are being reported, are they taken to the court? How many of them have been sent to the court?” he asked.
He continued: “A couple of days ago, the Immigration Service went to arrest certain people there; at the end of the day, they are supposed to detain them or possibly prosecute them or deport them to Nigeria or repatriate them but I’m sorry to say, but it’s the truth; they say: ‘OK, go and bring GHS1,000, GHS2,000’. At the end of the day, you take the money and you send these same people, who are following people in the society, back into the society and endangering the lives of other citizens in the community”.
The Nigerian chief urged the Ghana Immigration Service and Ghana Police Service, to “let us put more effort in what we do. You are doing very very well, but we can do better and if we do better, please let us follow the law. We have laws, rules and regulations in Ghana, we should follow them and not do bypass”.
Speaking about the cosmopolitan nature of the area, the Municipal Chief Executive for Awutu Senya East, Michael Essuman Mensah, told the forum that Kasoa is “the epitome of West Africa”.
“There are even Tunisians and Egyptians there”, he revealed, adding: “They invite me for their annual get-together all the time”. “There are Israelites there, too”.
In his view, “Kasoa is a whole country on its own” morphed by the Ga South, Awutu Senya, Awutu Senya East and Weija municipalities.
According to him, 80 households move to Kasoa on a weekly basis, translating into a 240-weekly bloating of the population.
“These are not people on an excursion or tourists”, he clarified, noting: “They are immigrants” moving to settle in the area.
Mr Mensah also noted that the capital city, Accra, through its proximity to Kasoa, has also had a growth pole effect on the area, since that part of the country, is relatively cheaper in terms of the standard of living as far as rent and property rates are concerned.
He said the day and night population pressure on Kasoa is ceaseless.
Kasoa, he noted, has taken policy planners by surprise so the growth rate has outstripped the rate of development rate.
As a result of the population spurt, he complained that people have encroached some wetlands “and you wonder who gave them the permit”.
He said the municipal assembly has formed a special weekend taskforce to control the illegal erection of structures.
To him, security is a continuous process and, so, urged the community to constantly volunteer information to help the police combat crime but acknowledged that the fear of whistleblowers being given out has been a stumbling block in that regard.
Concerning the influx of non-Ghanaians to the area and their activities vis-à-vis efforts by the law enforcement agencies to deal with them, the MCE revealed that there have been instances where aliens blocked the movement of immigration officers and vandalised their vehicles for attempting to enforce the laws.
He also expressed qualms about the situation where Ghanaian landlords evict their fellow Ghanaians in favour of non-Ghanaians with deep pockets without giving the slightest thought to the security implications of hosting such non-Ghanaians.
Mr Mensah further urged the Nigerian chief to blow the whistle on his fellow countrymen who, he knows, are criminals in the community.
“You know the criminals as chief of the Nigerians. You spoke well but don’t shield the unlawful ones”, he appealed to him, adding that not all Nigerians in Kasoa were criminals and, so, it was important that the bad nuts were dealt with so that they do not destroy the image of all Nigerians in the community.
He said one of his best friends in the area was a Nigerian mobile phone dealer, who was not a criminal and, thus, stressed the need for the criminals to be given away by their own.
He also announced that more police personnel were being deployed to the area to help fight crime, saying instead of the UN standard of 1 police to 500 citizens, the situation in Kasoa is 1 to 2,000, which, he acknowledged, is putting pressure on the few boots on the ground.
The MCE also urged the media to be specific and exact in their reportage of crime situations in Kasoa so as not to send the police on a wild goose chase – a situation, which, he noted, inures to the benefit of the criminals in their escape.
Meanwhile, retired police officer Yaw Adu Gyimah, who is a former Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, said crime-fighting in Kasoa must be intelligence-led.
In his view also, just as was done for Tema some years ago, a regional police command should be created for Kasoa as a bridge between the Accra and Central regional police commands by coopting personnel from either side.
He also observed that police patrols in the area must be a constant thing through collaborations between the two bordering regional commands.
While urging the locals to help the police to fight crime by volunteering information, Mr Adu Gyimah also admonished the police to always be out there on the ground instead of burying themselves in office work and other mundane activities such as female personnel wasting productive time to apply make-up in their offices.
Adding his voice to the concerns raised, the MP for Gomao East, Mr Desmond De-Graft Paitoo, said Kasoa has not known peace ever since criminals made the area their den.
“Strangers have infiltrated the area and killing people and committing crimes”, he complained, citing a few recent incidents in which innocent people were gruesomely murdered at Millennium City.
“You can’t actually describe where they are coming from. They operate on criminal bases”, he bemoaned.
The lawmaker also complained of poor resourcing of the police service, pointing out that the whole Millennium City police command, which polices a population of more than 30,000, has only two vehicles in his fleet.
“The police command is operating without logistics”, he decried, revealing that although the district police command has been created at Buduburam, no personnel have been sent there, adding that the police themselves are also being targeted by the criminals and, so, they are reluctant to follow up on criminal reports.
Even worse is the connivance of immigration officers with non-Ghanaian criminals.
All the above factors, he noted, have conspired to make Kasoa a hub of criminals. “Insecurity has become a problem over there”, Mr Paitoo said.
The idea of elevating Kasoa to a regional police command, he said, has been proposed publicly but yet to see the light of day.
The MP also complained that the people of Kasoa is too huge. As a result, he said there are places fire engines cannot even enter to fight infernos.
Furthermore, he added, there are a lot of idle youth who are occupying their time with crime.
Mr Paitoo urged the police to go on regular patrols and always be at checkpoints to foil criminal activities.
He accused the police of abandoning checkpoints at night since they are not able to extort enough money from the few cars that ply the roads during that time.
The MP also said boundary disputes between Ga South and Kasoa have constantly been the cause of violent clashes involving land guards and sometimes with the support of police officers on one side or the other.
He mentioned one such recent clash in which he alleged that the police helped some chiefs of Ga South to bulldoze structures erected by their rivals on a disputed property at Kasoa. He said the Millennium City police commander can attest to his story.
Mr Paitoo agreed with the suggestion that there be a collaboration between the Accra and Cape Coast commands in fighting crime at Kasoa.
Also at the Dialogue was Okofrobo Nana Kwasi Amoani (I), Odikro of Gomoa Bantama Millennium City, who bemoaned the poor resourcing of the police command, which, he noted, is affecting crime-fighting in Kasoa.
The traditional leader also mentioned the border dispute between Ga South and Kasoa as a major cause of the recurrent conflict which needed urgent resolution.
Just like other speakers, the chief also accused immigration officers in the area, of hobnobbing with illegal immigrants, who have been identified, in most cases, as the perpetrators of crimes in Kasoa.
The Ghetto Youth Association was also present at the Dialogue. Its President, Mr Kofi Antwi, told the forum that the only way the police command in Kasoa can be successful in fighting crime and clamping down on criminals is by working hand-in-hand with the association instead of seeing its members are criminals, too.
That collaboration, he claimed, was the trump card of renowned police officer Kofi Boakye, who, in the past, was able to clamp down on notorious criminals in the country.
Meanwhile, local government analyst Issaka Amon Kotei noted at the Dialogue that the devil is finding work for many of the idle youth in Kasoa since there are no jobs in the system for them.
Without any entrepreneurial skills available to them, he said the youth find survival in crime – a cycle that keeps repeating ad nausem.
Mr Twum Barimah, a private legal practitioner who is well-versed in immigration law, also wondered why cars still transport passengers between Ghana and Nigerian when all the land borders were still closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.