The national security apparatus has mounted investigations to uncover the perpetrators of yesterday’s earthquake scare that kept millions of Ghanaians across the country, awake.
The National Security, the Bureau of National Investigations and the police are collaborating to find the originators of the prank, which saw thousands of panicking Ghanaians rushing out of their houses into open places at dawn to escape the effect of the rumoured earthquake.
At the time of going to press, sources within the security apparatus told the Times that the source of the text message carrying the hoax which spread across the country like wild fire from Sunday night was being traced.
A National Security source said they were also working with the mobile telephone service providers to trace the mobile numbers used to originate the message, which claimed the BBC gave the announcement of an impending earthquake in Ghana, a claim the BBC has denied.
The sleep of many Ghanaians was cut short as news of the impending earthquake spread across the country. With the recent earthquake devastation in Haiti fresh on the minds of Ghanaians, hundreds of thousands of people rushed out into the open to avoid being injured by collapsing buildings and structures front the anticipated earthquake.
But it was realized later to be a hoax as the news could not be authenticated. The government described the prank as a “dangerous rumour,” and indicated that the source would be investigated and the perpetrators brought to book.
In a statement to dispel the reports in the wee hours of yesterday, Mrs. Zita Okaikoi, Information Minister condemned the joke, and cautioned people against such practice. The statement said, “The Geological Survey Department and the National Disaster Management Organization have given an assurance that all is well.”
Later, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, a Deputy Information Minister, said on radio that the government was unexcited about the development, which he described as a “Total hoax.”
He said it was regrettable that someone would put up such a joke that scared many families, with thousands more, keeping wake in open places.
…If Only All Cell Phones Were Registered
Mobile phone service providers have been urged to take the particulars of people whom they sell phones or chips to. This is to make it easy to either trace or locate anyone who attempts to use his or her chip to cause a stir or threaten someone.
Mr. Yaw Owusu Antwi, a businessman, told the Times in an interview yesterday following the earthquake in the country. He described the development as unfortunate, saying that he believe if proper mechanism were put in place with regard to the acquisition of mobile phones and chips in the country, it would facilitate moves by national security, the police or any security apparatus to apprehend the originators of the scare.
Mr. Antwi mentioned India, Algeria, South Africa and parts of the United Kingdom, among other countries where acquisition of phone chips could be done as easily as was done in Ghana. If the customer is a foreigner who is on a visit or on a short stay, the particulars of that person, be it passport, driving license or valuable documents are demanded to do a thorough check before the chips are sold to him or her.” He said.
Mr. Antwi noted that even citizens in those countries found it difficult acquiring chips, saying that thorough checks, including information about their home and work place addresses were compiled.
He called on Parliament to pass a law that will compel the mobile service providers to make it mandatory to register every customer with new chip.
When contacted, a former Director of the Bureau of National Investigations, Mr. Kofi B. Quantson lauded the idea but was quick to say that “when that is enforced, human rights activist would say it is against individuals privacy.”
He described the rumor as an evil joke, a scare which he said had compelled people to say wake for fear of being trapped. Mr. Quantson said Ghana is noted for its peace and good name in various circles saying that such information tended to dent the country’s image and reputation.
Source: The Ghanaian Times/Ghana
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