Police in the Upper East region have declared missing some sensitive government files following a midnight raid on two offices at the Bongo District Assembly by persons yet to be identified.
Stunned residents of the region including the security agencies have described the “data theft” as way beyond the ordinary. The thieves broke into the offices of auditors and budget officers and made away with a file covering contract details of some state projects executed under the Ghana Social Opportunities Project (GISOP) before the recent change of government.
The burglars found their way into the offices after tearing down the wire mesh on the louvred windows, removed some louvres, took the GISOP file as well as two sets of desktop computers one from each of the offices but astonishingly spared a laptop computer, printers and some accessories found inside the rooms. The stolen computers are believed to also have some very important files saved on them.
“They took desktop computers, a file of Ghana Social Opportunities Project. That file contains payments, certificates, vouchers, contract documents and other things. Meanwhile, there are gadgets like laptop, printers, scanners; they didn’t take them.
“You can see that the suspects may not be illiterates, because they went through the files and picked this file. That should show you the kind of thieves who went there. The case is under investigation,” the Bongo District Police Commander, ASP Samuel Yao Young Acolatse, told Starr News.
Sleeping watchman in company of empty beer bottle
The assembly raid is said to have taken place when only one of the three security men engaged to safeguard the two-storey building was on duty.
Police say one of the security guards is reported to have abandoned his post many months ago but still takes salaries up to now.
The other two men have been running shifts on a daily basis, each one keeping watch over the entire block alone at a time. But Francis Akugre, the watchman on duty on the raid night, reportedly was not alone. Police say he was asleep on a bench with an empty beer bottle by his side when the building came under the sudden break-in.
“The place is big. They share the days among themselves. One goes at a time. He, Kweku Francis Akugre, was on duty that night. He was sleeping, where he was supposed to sit, with one empty Guinness bottle. This means that he took the drink and slept. You can see some footprints that went to the window around where he was sleeping.
“They (assembly officials) could not secure the scene before we got there. They had tempered with the fingerprints, the footprints and the traces that could have helped us in our investigation. We’ve invited the watchmen and left information in many places to track down the suspects,” the commander said.
Two major thefts in two weeks
The “information theft” at the assembly is the second major robbery to have hit Bongo in two weeks.
A mechanised borehole pump belonging to the deprived and only hospital in the district was stolen late in March, this year. The Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. William Gudu, told newsmen the borehole was dismantled with its electrical cables, pump and pipelines taken away.
Authorities had considered referring surgeries to the other hospitals in the region following the theft of the hospital’s main source of water.
This is perhaps the first time the assembly has seen a raid claiming vital documents. Baffled residents are of the opinion that it was carried out to destroy some evidence most likely to be used for future prosecution against some government officials.
“This matter must not rest with police investigations. It is clearly an attempt by some people in collaboration with some insiders to conceal some secrets from the public. I believe the file contains things which were going to expose and incriminate someone or some people.
“We must get to the bottom of this insulting robbery of public records. We must find the suspects and bring them all to book. I have no doubts that there are more important government files on the computers they stole. Anything short of arrest and prosecution on this matter would encourage more criminals to make more of such criminal attempts. And that shouldn’t be the case,” an enraged resident, Martin Apasinaba, told Starr News.