Shopping Mall Ecobank robbers jailed 21 years

29525895.295Two persons who were involved in the robbery of the Ecobank branch at the Accra Shopping Mall were on Wednesday sentenced to a total of 21 years by the Accra Circuit Court.

They are Allando Ajeopo and Sulemana Haruna, not unemployed.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges of conspiracy to commit robbery and robbery and after the trial of the case, Haruna was sentenced to 20 years for conspiracy to rob, while Ajeopo was sentenced to a year in prison for harbouring criminals.

Sentencing the convicts, the presiding Judge, Mr Francis Obiri, said Ajeopo although did not take part in the robbery, harboured one of them without reporting to the police.

He said on the part of Haruna, he conspired with the robbers to rob the bank and, therefore, sentenced him to 20 years in prison to serve as deterrent to others.

He said armed robbery was becoming rampant in the country and should not be entertained.

Mr Obiri urged Ghanaians to volunteer information on the activities of robbers to enable them to be smoked out of the society.

Prosecuting, a Senior State Attorney, Mr John Tulasi, told the court that on July 21, 2011 at about 9:30am, a gang of armed robbers, led by one Rabiu, alias Baba Hassan (now deceased), stormed the Accra Shopping Mall branch of Ecobank and took the staff and customers hostage at gunpoint.

He said the said Rabiu entered the banking hall while the rest of the gang took positions outside the hall and warded off customers and others at gunpoint.

Before storming the banking hall, Rabiu approached a private security man called Kofi Yeboah, who was on duty at the entrance of the Accra Shopping Mall, and pointed a pistol at him.

Rabiu then marched Yeboah to the banking counter where customers were transacting business.

Upon reaching the counter side, Rabiu ordered Yeboah and all the others in the hall to lie down, or he would shoot them.

As the people obliged, Rabiu then jumped over the teller counter and pointed the gun on one Marcus Tornu, who was manning teller at the time and within moments, collected various sums in different denominations and fled the scene on a motorbike with the aid of an accomplice.

The sums stolen were Ghc105,100.00, USD48,632.00, £5,200 and £4,500.

During investigations, the accused persons were arrested for questioning.

In the course of time, Rabiu and another accomplice, by name Sam Peters, died during a police operation.

In his caution statement to the police, Ajeopo stated that he had known Rabiu for more than 20 years and had been calling him on phone.

In the year 2008, he (Ajeopo) got a job with a private security company as a guardsman and was posted to guard the Accra Shopping Mall branch of Stanbic Bank.

Allando added that at about 9:00am on July 21, 2011, he heard of the robbery that took place in the mall and that where the robbery took place was about 10 metres from his duty post.

He added that Rabiu called him after the robbery at Ecobank to inform him that he (Rabiu) was the one who committed the robbery.

He said Rabiu called him to enquire of current trends on the grounds, and he informed him that the situation was serious and that two policemen and three private security guards had been arrested.

He said at about 7pm, on August 1, 2011 he was in his room when Rabiu called him and informed him that one of his gang members had been arrested and he (Ajeopo) again reminded him that the situation was still very serious.

Sulemana Haruna in his caution statement to the police admitted that he conspired with Rabiu and his gang members, who are at large to rob the Ecobank on July 21, 2011.

He stated that Rabiu, who was a friend, brought his Honda 400cc to him for repairs and added an amount of Ghc70 for the purchase of a new tyre for the motorbike and that he would come for the bike in two days’ time.

Further to that, Rabiu told him that the motorbike belonged to one Aziz.

He added that on July 21, 2011, Rabiu called and asked him to meet him at the Ashiaman tollbooth with the motorbike and he did.

Haruna said Rabiu informed him that he was going to meet a friend at the Accra Shopping Mall for business, and so he should pick him on the motorbike to the mall.

Haruna said on arrival at the Mall, he and Rabiu entered the mall and came out within a few minutes without buying anything.

However, Rabiu made several phone calls and one of his accomplices by name Ramani came to meet them.

Shortly after that, another accomplice also appeared at the scene.

He added that at that juncture, Rabiu told him that since he was not experienced enough with motorbike, he should take a taxi home and Rabiu gave him Ghc10.00 for taxi fare. He then realised that another accomplice believed to be a Nigerian had also positioned himself almost near the entrance to the Ecobank.

He stated that it was drizzling that morning and so not many people were around.

Within a very short time, he saw Rabiu and his Nigerian accomplice jump onto the motorbike and fled the scene.

He said the following day, Rabiu gave him Ghc4,700 out of whatever business he undertook at the Ecobank.

Haruna said Rabiu also gave Ghc5,000 to an accomplice called Aziz and that the said Aziz and other three persons were the accomplices of Rabiu.