murdered victims

Rosemond Nyampong, Fennec Okyere, Samuel Denis Ayibah and Quist Defore

On a hot sunny morning of November 21, 2013, Ghanaians woke up to the chilling murder of 32-year-old Stannic Bank staff, Rosemond Nyampong in her private residence at Baatsona, a suburb between Accra and Tema.

Her lifeless body?dressed in her work clothes?was lying prone in a pool of blood when it was discovered. She had apparently been strangled to death the previous night by her attacker.

She was just on the verge of getting married to her fianc?.

No clear motive has been determined so far for why Miss Nyampong was brutally murdered in cold blood.

The only clue came from one Abraham Kwame Oyotey Baah, who was picked up shortly after the murder in possession of Miss Nyampong?s Toyota Yaris saloon car and other valuable items believed to belong to her.

The shocking murder of Miss Nyampong will become the harbinger of several more mysterious murders in the Tema metropolis that have proven extremely difficult for police investigators to crack. Unlike the Rosemond murder where her vehicle and items were tracked to the suspect, Oyotey Baah, the subsequent killings have proven hard to decipher as the killers have been meticulous enough to leave almost no trail for police investigators to track.

jamees agalga

James Agalga

Soon after the cold murder of Nyampong, one Quist Kofi Defor, a 36-year-old Immigration officer was also shot dead by assailants suspected to be armed robbers at his residence at Mataheko in Tema.

Kofi Defor was brutally shot and hacked with a crude garden hoe. He was killed barely a month after Rosemond Nyampong ? December 28, 2013.

Not long after that coldblooded murder of Kofi Defor, another bank worker, 35-year-old branch manager of Zenith Bank, Kwesi Sekyi Prah was also shot dead by unidentified gunmen in his home under mysterious circumstances.

The bank manager had returned from Akosombo to spend the weekend with his wife and their two children at his two-storey residence at Community 25 (Tema) when the gunmen stormed the house at dawn and shot him at close range.

It was at this point that the Police begun to suspect foul play. To be sure, the Sekyi Prah killers did not steal anything than his baby?s diapers in a polythene bag. It was obvious that the ridiculous theft was to make the murder appear as though it was a robbery turned bloody.

Potpourri of murders

The Tema murders appear not to give any clear pattern, as the murdered persons include policemen, traders, bankers and celebrities.

Last week, the killers, in their audacious move, conducted yet another hard-to-explain murder. Samuel Denis Ayibah, a 55-year-old businessman had just gone to pick up his lover in the Community 4 area of Tema. While sitting in his plush car waiting for his lover, the killers on a motorbike roared past him, as they emptied a number of bullets in him. The unidentified assailants sped off leaving Mr. Ayibah lifeless in a pool of blood.

The motive for the drive-by shooting of Ayibah has left police officers scratching their heads for clues and answers.

That same day, a mechanic, who was reported to have travelled from Accra to Tema to see off his girlfriend around Apple Hotel in Community 5 in Tema, was attacked but he luckily escaped with gunshot wounds on his legs.

mohammed_alhassan

IGP Mohammed Alhassan

The alarming killings that started in 2013 escalated the curiosity of the  general public when Fennec Okyere, the manager of popular contemporary Hip-hop artiste, Kwaw Kesse was killed in cold blood by untraceable assailants at his Mannet Gardens residence close to Tema on  March 13, 2014, at 2:30 am.

While Fennec was asleep, the assailants were said to have accessed his heavily secured residence by cutting the security wires on his fence wall and scaling into the house. He was reportedly stabbed in the stomach several times and left to drown in his own blood.

Contract Killings?

Policemen from the Tema Regional Police and the Homicide Unit of the Ghana Police Service in Accra visited the scene and started investigations into what appeared to be premeditated killing or what has been likened to contract killing by the scared general public.

Police investigations revealed that Mr. Okyere?s pump-action gun and a pistol in his bedroom were taken away by the assailants.

Police furthered found empty shell of a cartridge in the room believed to have been used to shoot the showbiz aficionado.

Fennec?s assailants were reported to have used cement blocks to break into the study room and the bedroom where Fennec was sleeping before attacking him.

His bathroom was also said to be have been smeared with blood as live ammunitions were found inside and outside the room, apparently depicting a possible struggle.

Fennec?s bedroom was turned upside down, heightening suspicion that his attackers may have been searching for something important to them or their possible paymasters. Documents especially land documents were ransacked by the assailants.

Dr Kwesi Anning

Dr. Kwesi Anning

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Victor Gyan-Okyereko, Kpeshie Divisional Police Commander confirmed the murder, but was quick to note that police were yet to ascertain how and why Fennec was killed.

?We had information at about 7:00am that a man was shot at his house. Police proceeded to the scene and found the man identified as Fennec Okyere,? ACP Gyan-Okyereko explained.

?We found two ammunitions, one live and one used cartridge. He was found in a pool of blood with his face on the ground naked in his bedroom.?

In the views of ACP Gyan-Okyereko, the incident could either be a robbery or contract killing.

Undoubtedly, the death of Fennec has shaken the foundation of Ghana?s showbiz industry, as no motive has been yet attributed to his murder. Indeed, his death became a wake-up call for the country?s security services to double up their efforts in unmasking these mysterious killings.

?Fennec was everything to me. Anytime I wanted to get something done but did not know how to go about it, I would call him and he would direct me on what to do?.I don?t know how to live without him? he was very very hard working and generous to a fault,? a tearful Ursula Owusu Ekuful, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma West recounted her relations with Fennec.

Indeed, similar emotional renditions of Fennec?s attributes have been re-echoed across the social stratum of the Ghanaian society.

The more Fennec and the other unsolved murders are mourned, the more speculations of an era of contract killing become poignant. ?The speculations are becoming too many and they rather make the family sad and worsen the situation. I would plead with the media and the public to stop the speculations in these trying times. The family is not enjoying any part of this,? Mrs. Owusu Ekufful admonished.

Parliament?s Panic

Last week, the speculations drifted into the Ghanaian Legislature, where Members of Parliament expressed concern about the spate of killings and demanded answers from the security heads.

The MPs have summoned the Interior Minister to appear before them and brief them on security measures being put in place to avert future murders.

Interestingly, Ursula Owusu-Ekufful, the same MP who admonished against speculations was the first to conjecture that the killings may not be unconnected to contract killings when she cited the murder of Fennec Okyere in Parliament, saying no single suspect had been arrested for the killing.

MP for Garu Timpane, Dominic Azuma fears MPs may soon be the target of the rampaging killers. According to him, he has reliable information from police sources that MPs may soon be the target of criminal attacks due to perceptions that MPs are rich.

?Something must be done and done very fast,? he pleaded on the floor of Parliament.

Mr Azuma said he had witnessed at least two MPs who had been attacked in their homes recently and therefore wanted the State to provide security for lawmakers.

?MPs are being seen as rich people so gangsters have started targeting MPs for attacks in order to rob them of their valuables,? he said, arguing that Parliamentarians should be given security details just like the Executive arm of government.

Police Assurance

The Ghana Police Service has issued several reassurances to the general public, saying they are up to task in securing them and dealing with the mystery killings. One of the key strategies is to clamp down on suspicious motorbike riders, as it is believed that many of the killer gangs deploy motorbikes for their operations.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Beatrice Zakpa Vib-Sanziri, explained to journalists recently that the move to clamp down on questionable motorbikes became necessary because of complaints from residents of criminals who use motorbikes in their attacks.

According to the Deputy Minister of Interior, James Agalga, despite the seeming insecurity, crime statistics show a 15-percent decline in violent crime rates. This emphasis has however done little to assure the general public who are terrified by what they believe is a creeping trend of contract killings in Ghana.

The Director of Research at the Kofi Annan International Peace-Keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Dr. Kwesi Aning, sensing this mistrust from the general public, advised security authorities to go beyond the statistics and ensure that people feel secured.

According to him, a 15% drop in major crime rate is a key reduction but that should not be taken for granted, saying, ?We need to make our communities feel secured.

According to him, the Ministry of Interior and the police authority should probably take a cue from complaints by MPs that they do not feel secure.

By Raphael Ofori Adeniran & Vincent Kubi

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