Armed robbery refers to the usage of arms or offensive weapons to forcibly deny any person of his or her possession. Sometimes it leads to the death of the robbed person should he or she raise any resistance.
For the past few years, the incidence of armed robbery has become a daily affair in the Greater Banjul Area in particular and the country in general, making it a potential danger to anybody.
In fact, all are at risk. It started in the Kanifing Municipality, now that the heat is on, it has moved to the West Coast Region.
One modus operandi is to break into houses during their operations. They also enter supermarkets, stores, filling stations, houses and take away money.
In recent times, there has been a number of robbery attacks on residents in the two regions while some violent crimes have also been recorded.
Sometimes, the gangs even rape and whip their victims before robbing them of their valuables.
An instance and most recent was last week when armed robbers attacked Dalaba Estate. A gang of armed robbers struck Block E.26 at the Dalaba Estate near Jabang dead in the night on Monday terrorising a family and doing away with cash and materials worth D70,000. “Sheik Tijan Sallah, an architect and home owner, said five people stormed his house breaking his burglar proof railings to force entry, and speaking Mandinka and Senegalese accented Wolof, they demanded money”.
Another occasion in the West Coast Region was when a shopkeeper died after armed robber attack. Sherriff Fofana, a shop owner at Jatta Kunda in Brikama Dirima-Kollong, died in cold blood with multiple stabbings by armed robbers.
According to The Standard, “Fofana was in his shop on Tuesday night when some hoodlums broke in to rob him”.
The incidences are many to recall.
In the rural areas armed robbers waylay vehicles travelling with market women to marketing centres as well as other travellers, hold them hostage at gunpoint and rob them of their money and other valuables.
The robbers have become so bold that they engage in their activities in broad daylight.
Another strategy employed is having scouts at banks who report people who have cashed substantial amounts of money.
The robbers, waiting nearby in vehicles or on motorbikes, follow their unsuspecting victims to their destination where they can easily strike.
I entreat the Gambia Police Force under the leadership of the Inspector General Abdoulie Sanyang to deploy a special Anti-Armed Robbery Squad to the Kanifing and West Coast regions to clamp down on the increasing activities of armed robbers in those regions.
The special force’s objective would boost the capabilities of the two regional commands to ruthlessly fight robbery and other violent crimes on highways.
The Inspector General of Police is duty-bound to assure the citizenry that the police are prepared to rid the country of armed robbers and call for the cooperation of the general public during the exercise in the two regions. IGP Sanyang must give clear-cut instruction to deal ruthlessly with criminals in the two regions and their surrounding areas.
While in the regions, the special squad would patrol and mount snap checkpoints to maintain high visibility and do more public engagement with communities to support ongoing police activities aimed at reducing crime in the jurisdictions.
The special Anti-Armed Robbery Squad would also launch intelligence-led attacks on criminal elements in both regions and protect traders and economic activity in the area.
In this way, the public would not feel intimidated by the heavy police presence but would assist the police in ridding their communities of criminals.
Efforts to curb the menace is a farfetched dream as the government is not doing its best to resource the Police Force to do their work efficiently. A well-resourced police Force can only be seen through the fleet of vehicles and other logistics allocated to them to combat crime.
These vehicles are also fitted with communication gadgets and mobile phone lines so that the police can be in constant touch with the citizenry and the outside world.
So with their mobile phone lines made adequately available to the general public, they could be contacted if anyone was in distress. With this, the police would be making some inroads in the fight against the menace.