Raymond Ayee Ayeetey aka Ataa Ayi was born in Adabraka, Accra. He stopped school in class 4 after his mom travelled to the UK. He learnt how to drive and became a taxi driver. He was known to be affable.
In 1998, he drove someone to a festival in Okropong and on his way back, got into an accident that destroyed his master’s car. He returned to Accra jobless and in debt. A taxi driver friend then introduced him to a man who needed a skilful driver
He met his new master, Eddie, at Flamingo in Accra. Eddie was a car looter. When he found out his job was to drive them to steal from people he said at that time he wasn’t happy but needed money for his pregnant wife and he wanted to also be a master and have his own car..
Ataa Ayi became a driver for the gang, as they loot people’s cars. They monitor people who go to the banks to withdraw money, attack them, steal the money and run away. In his first operation in 1999, they stole 12 million cedis of which he got 2.5 million cedis for himself.
They found a gun in a police car one day and took it. They decided to use it for their operations since it would make stealing easier however none of them knew how to fire an arm at that time.
His gang robbed people from banks and busses and hijacked cars. It was believed that he had charms and amulets that protected him from gunshots and from being caught. A massive manhunt was ordered for him and his gang.
He was known to be a very skilful driver and they even stole money in traffic. According to police records, Ayi could reverse a car at over 100 kilometres an hour speed, a feat which can pass for a Hollywood dream.
He came to have a lot of power and gained popularity as a notorious thief and gang leader. Once he and his gang trailed a man from a bank where the victim had withdrawn 22 million cedis. When the man stopped to give the money to his wife, he was crossed by the robbers amid firing.
Ayi’s gang trailed a rev minister from the Osu where he had withdrawn 56 million cedis. They entered the church but could not snatch the bag containing the money. They entered into an office and met one pastor who was checking the money. They fired shots and snatched 6 million cedis.
He is alleged to have stolen cash amounting to over 700 million cedis and other valuables like cars telephones and jewelry. His face was put on billboards throughout the country. He became so popular and wanted that his name became a common household name and nickname for thieves.
In 2000, a lead was found on his whereabouts which led to a suspect taking the police to his house in Chorkor. However, he was not found as he had travelled to the North for a funeral. It was then, he realized that his life and his family was in danger. Then he went into hiding.
The police went after them, combing every part of where they were reportedly operating and living. All his gang members had been arrested or killed yet he was nowhere to be found. Some of the locals in the area even began to tell stories of his invincibility and powers.
His capture and apprehension happened when he was caretaker of his elder sister’s house in Nungua. There was an argument between the tenants in the house where the tenant insulted his mother. Ataa Ayi beat up this man because he said it was disrespectful to insult your own mother.
On 28th February 2005, the police went to his residence and found him drying his clothes. They came to arrest him on counts of assault only to find out he was the most wanted criminal in the country. He was arrested whiles begging the police on his knees not to kill him.
Whiles in custody he was tortured and forced to sign statements which he claims some of which were not true. He was later sentenced to 160 years with hard labour and is still serving his time.
Now turned pastor, Aryee says he regrets all his past crimes and sins and has accepted Jesus as his saviour.
“I would like DCOP Kofi Boakye to come and visit me. He saved my life by bringing me here. May God richly blesses him,” he said.
This happened some 20 years ago and all the amounts mentioned are in old Ghana cedis. Might look small now, but then, it wasn’t