It’s Time To Crack The Whip On These Nigerian Crooks!

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Feature Article of Monday, 15 August 2011, Columnist: Akyeampong, Prince

Armed robbery, drug trafficking, forgery, 419 – you name it; crimes and vices that have now gained a strong foothold within the Nigerian culture, thanks to the large number of all manner of criminals in that country. What is scary? These die-hard crooks have now decided to spread their dangerous tentacles to neighbouring countries and unfortunately, hitherto peace-loving countries like Ghana have now become huge targets. Great! By way of showing good neighbourliness, we allow Nigerians to flock to Ghana to live there and do business, and that’s how they repay us; by thumping their noses at us? Anytime there is armed robbery or fraud (especially involving forged Ghanaian passports), you know there are likely to be Nigerians involved. If care is not taken, these Nigerian fraudsters and criminals could create a perpetual state of insecurity, distrust and fear in our beloved nation; the same physical and psychological havoc they’ve managed to wreak on their own people.

With regards to armed robbery, the recent influx of Nigerians has been accompanied by an attendant increase in the number of violent armed robberies. These Hollywood and Nollywood style robberies are usually the trademarks and hallmarks of these Nigerians; a modus operandi that is catching on fast among their local Ghanaian and Fulani counterparts. Last year, The U.S. Dept. of State warned U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Nigeria because of the risks of kidnapping, robbery and violent crime committed by individuals and gangs, as well as persons wearing police and military uniforms. According to them, visitors in Nigeria have constantly experienced violent armed muggings, assaults, carjackings, kidnappings and extortion. The State Dept. stated that home invasion remains a serious threat, with armed robbers accessing even guarded compounds by scaling perimeter walls, following or tailgating residents or visitors arriving by car into the compounds, subduing guards and gaining entry into homes.

This is what must be avoided at all costs! A situation where tourists are advised to reconsider their trips to Ghana by their respective governments due to the high incidence of armed robbery. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. I suppose that’s easy to say, but if these Nigerians together with the locals, continue with their armed robbery rampage, here is what is likely to happen – it’s going to scare away foreign investors; as already stated, the tourism industry would be negatively impacted; it has the potential of slowing down businesses in the evenings. Once upon a time, Ghana was a country where friends and loved ones could make merry into the wee hours of the morning without having to worry about the imminent threat of armed robbery. Thanks to these Nigerian robbers and their local counterparts, the peace and calm that we used to enjoy are gradually becoming distant memories. Accra, for instance, is gradually becoming a “Lagos annex.”

Then there’s the Nigerian propensity for fraud. Nigerians and forgery! Day in and day out, we read about Nigerians attempting to obtain Ghanaian passports through false pretenses. Just last Wednesday, two Nigerian nationals were charged with forging of Ghanaian passport forms and the use of Ghanaian names on the application documents. During interrogation, the two accused persons said they wanted the Ghanaian passports to enable them to travel to China and Dubai to buy goods. They said when they used their Nigerian passports, they were refused visa. Is that how contemptuously the Nigerian passport is viewed globally these days? As the saying goes – na who cause am. Having descended to such abysmal depths by way of integrity worldwide, Nigerian fraudsters have now set their eyes on our beloved nation, and again, if care is not taken, these crooks are eventually bound to wriggle their way into certain sensitive areas and situations; and by their fraudulent actions, dent the image of Ghanaians globally. If we don’t nip this increasing Nigerian crime wave in the bud now, these crooks might end up forging the signatures of the President and other prominent personalities in Ghana. Yes, that’s how dangerous these crooks are! After all, don’t they commit serious crimes globally under fake Ghanaian identities?

What I find irritating is the fact that unlike Ghanaian residents in Nigeria, who are gainfully employed and law-abiding, Nigerians resident in Ghana continue to flout the laws of our land with impunity!. How many times have we read about armed robbery in Nigerian cities involving Ghanaian residents? Personally, I don’t recall reading about any such incident. How many times have we heard about Ghanaians attempting to obtain Nigerian passports under false pretenses? Why would any rational Ghanaian attempt to obtain a passport that is viewed with suspicion worldwide? Any Ghanaian wanting a worry-free trip and peace of mind would not even think about using a Nigerian passport; I mean, there could be a few isolated cases, but such a risky idea should not cross the mind of any true Ghanaian. Nigerians have a “reputation” that precedes them wherever they go; we all know what it is. This is definitely not an attempt to paint all Nigerians with the same brush; but the rate at which they are becoming associated with crime in Ghana should be a cause for concern nationwide.

We may both be former British colonies, which means we have something in common. What puzzles me, though, is why Nigerian criminals think Ghanaians are “fair game” when it comes to robbery and fraud. With all their huge oil resource and deposits, they are still struggling in the wilderness as a result of crime, corruption and fraud. We don’t want to get to that stage where folks in Ghana start putting up “fortresses” just to keep out armed robbers, like they do in Nigeria.

If we don’t deal with this emerging Nigerian menace in an urgent manner, we will definitely live to regret it! Tightening of immigration laws would be a step in the right direction; stiff sentences should be handed out to aliens who disregard the laws of our country and indulge in criminal activities – this should be followed by immediate deportation; in fact, I’m in favour of capital punishment ( the death sentence) when it comes to these alien criminals who engage in violent robberies. The national ID scheme would also be a plus. It’s all about creating an environment that deters even the most hardened Nigerian criminal. God bless mother Ghana!

Prince Akyeampong, Washinton D.C. e-mail: desavagist@gmail.com

 

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