Call it a security threat or polarised security, you are not far from the truth. The Bureau of National Investigations(BNI) which was established in 1996, as Ghana’s internal intelligence agency has now been reduced to a dumping ground for political thugs and hoodlums, as means of employment and not for state protection.
Having gained credibility over the years as best intelligence gathering body in the country and in the sub region of Africa, recent issues emerging in public, the BNI is fast losing that credibility.
Section 10 of the BNI Act, (Act 526 ) 1996, gave it the mandate to open undisclosed offices in all the regional capital, District capitals and also operates with undisclosed budget under the security council.
However, unlike previous governments, where senior officers of the Bureau are outsourced from other security agencies including the police services, military and immigration services working on secondment from those security agencies, the current government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) headed by President Akufo Addo , has turned the BNI as an annex of the NPP headquarters.
The BNI is now recruiting its senior officers from the New Patriotic Party to head the regions and districts as the integral part of the National Security Council which oversees matters of the counterintelligence and internal security of Ghana.
The development is undermining the trust it gained from public politics and reducing its integrity as the intelligence gathering agency.
Series of media reports suggested that there is declining public trust in the national security investigation institution. Whether it is the conduct of the BNI senior officers themselves, the political parties, or the processes of recruiting civilians intelligence officers, people are losing faith in the BNI.
Residents of Banda in Bono Region, for instance, are grappling with the fallout from District BNI involvement of recruiting a known NPP executive member, Shadrach Abreafa Manu, as its officer. The unexpected development has brought fears of voter fraud, and anger at voter suppression in the next general elections.
Shadrach Manu, a former Youth Organizer of NPP in Wenchi Constituency has been handed a juicy post as Director of BNI for Banda District, a next door neighbour Constituency of Wenchi, where he was publicly known as political party executive member.
Under normal circumstance and if it were within the police services , the District should have been headed by a senior officer not bellow the ranks of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), and in this case an internal BNI officer who has rose to the senior position.
But Shadrach recruitment as BNI District Director came as surprised if not shocking to many, including his peers. He is a known political figure and the possibility of him compromising his work to favour his party is very high.
The Bono regional Chapter of the National Democratic Congress ( NDC ) in a statement expressed shock upon hearing the recruitment of Shadrach to high post as District Director of the BNI, the national intelligence gathering agency.
The statement signed by its Regional youth Organizer, Efo Worlanyo Tsekpo, accused the NPP government of infiltrating their militia groups members into the BNI as part of plans and plots to snatch the Banda parliamentary seat, the only surviving parliamentary seat in the Bono Region.
According to the Bono NDC youth, beside been a former constituency youth organizer, Shadrach Manu was the Deputy Secretary of the Invisible Forces, a Militia group affiliated to the NPP and participated in several unlawful activities in the region.
Beside Shadrach Manu as Banda District officer of BNI, the NDC youth said further information revealed that, another member of the NPP Invisible Force, identifies as Denis Yeboah, has also been assigned as BNI officer for Tain District, the home of NDC General Secretary, Johnson Aseidu Nketiah.
Hon Ibrahim Ahmed, Member of Parliament for Banda in an interview with THE REPUBLIC, collaborated the NDC youth allegation and said, Shadrach Manu twin brother, Shadrach Mensah, Regional Organizer of NPP had earlier rubbished the reports that his brother who has been appointed District BNI Officer is a known political figure.
But contrary to Shadrach Mensah denials, pictures and campaign posters of Shadrach Manu indicated, he contested the 2014 NPP constituency and won against one Fahd Osman to become the Wenchi Constituency Youth Organizer and held that post till 2017.
Hon Ahmed who is the First Deputy Minority Whip of Parliament, observed that the opened polarization of the nation investigation body do not auger well for the country as the operation is target at opposition members to intimidate them in order to shore up the NPP electoral fortunes in the Banda constituency.
The BNI has the investigative jurisdiction to arrest or detain and interrogate over a wide range of criminal offences.
Among of other duties of the BNI are investigation on organized crime and financial crime, espionage, sabotage, terrorism, hijacking, piracy, drug trafficking and providing intelligence to counter threats to Ghana’s national security.
The intelligence investigation body also perform such other functions as may be directed by the Chairman of the National Security Council, thus the President and head of state.
It often recruit from the other security bodies and few other civilians. The civilian personnel role is to establish close surveillance over opponents of the country and are often send at large to gather first hand information leading to professional investigations.
Nonetheless, the NDC believed, the worse motives of such recruitment is to help the NPP rig the 2020 general elections as some of the BNI operatives have even started their internal operations in electoral areas known to be stronghold of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
But Hon. Ahmed said the youth members of NPP who were in campaign during the 2016 elections have now been recruited into the BNI with the motive to spy and devise means of undermining the authority and capacity of opposition MPs in their constituencies.
In his view, when truth and facts are divorced and politicians exploit the confusion for political gain, good governance suffers alongside civil society and eventually democracy at large.
Ghana he cautioned is not immune from the threat and the trajectories of terrorist activities and fear the toxic effects of polarized security and the increased of political interference have dramatically shaped the national security environment.
Source: therepublicnewaonline.com Felix Nyaaba