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Opinions of Monday, 11 July 2016

Columnist: Joseph Ackah-Blay

Let the BNI be!

I have always feared the Bureau from afar. My fear soared higher on April 14th 2015 when I woke to the news that the Bureau in the early hours of the said date had picked up the developer of the software (Stephen Ato Forson used in the 2015 University of Ghana SRC elections.

Media outlets carried the news with different tags: “BNI Arrests Legon SRC IT Specialist”- Daily Guide

“Software Developer for UG SRC Elections Arrested by BNI”- 233livenews.wordpress.com

“Developer of Software for University of Ghana SRC elections Arrested by the BNI”

The new joke on campus afterwards was “The BNI will pick you”. This was uttered each time one wanted to remind someone of how dangerous his actions or words can be. The findings of the Bureau after interrogating Mr Ato Forson remain a mystery.

While some claim Ato Forson admitted under the investigation that he had indeed manipulated the software to favour the eventual winner of the SRC elections, others claimed Mr. Ato Forson had been vindicated hence his subsequent release without prosecution.

Student commentators didn’t hesitate to give the whole move a political twist. Some accused the ruling NDC of masterminding Mr. Forson’s arrest. The rumor mill had it that the losing candidate Mikdad Mohammed was being financed by the NDC hence the arrest of the software developer after Mikdad’s supporters had alleged rigging after the close of polls.

As a young Journo at Radio Univers, i tried without success to find out what the BNI interrogation revealed.

Away from the student front, the Bureau has been in the news for similar acts in recent times. The BNI have over the years arrested persons such as Kennedy Agyepong, aides to Nana Akuffo Addo and the 3 South Africans who were subsequently deported, Kwabena Kesse (Kessben) among others.

In each case, sympathizers of the persons involved cried foul and accused the ruling government of utilizing the Bureau to terrorize political opponents and those not sympathetic to their cause. A publication of modernghana.com dated April 5, 2016 titled “BNI Doing NDC Bidding” quotes lawyer for Dr. Edmond Ayo Ani, Nana Adjei Baffuor Awuah as saying on Joy fm

“Even their mode of recruitment is not transparent, and, therefore, the politicians, just in certain instances, sneak people into the police service and the military succeed in sneaking people into the BNI to do their bidding.” (https://m.modernghanaghana.com/news/684229/bni-doing-ndc-bidding.html)

Against such a background of happenings, only few jump to the aid of the Bureau each time it is in the news. More often that not, only Government aides do so. I am certainly not an aid; neither do I aspire to be one. I am also of the firm conviction that the institutions of state must be independent and it is important that they handle their activities in a manner that will leave people with few reasons to criticize them.

The Bureau is in the news once again. Not for an arrest like in the past, but for the findings after interrogation of two gentlemen accused of threatening to visit violence onto Justices of the Supreme Court during a radio discussion on Montie fm. The two Godwin Ako Gunn and Alistair Tairo Nelson together with Salifu Maase alias Mugabe (host of the show) and the owner of the station are to appear before Justices of the Supreme Court on July 12, 2016.

A statement released by the BNI on July 7 stated the following: “At the interrogation, the two (2) suspects admitted making those statements and acknowledged that their remarks were regrettable and unfortunate. Further checks by the BNI have however established that the suspects were incapable of carrying out their pronouncements but did so in show of needless bravado.”

Some commentators have described this as strange findings from the BNI, especially in the face of suspicion that the two are sympathetic to the ruling government. What we must understand is that in the event any of the Justices had filed a complaint at the police (complaint of threat) and the BNI had still picked up the two, investigations would have proceeded irrespective of such findings from the BNI.

The BNI-we must understand-was established in 1996 with focus on cyber ware, counter intelligence, espionage, internal security, intelligence agency and security agency. The BNI clearly from the release, invited them to assess their capability at executing the task. They have concluded their findings, lets leave the Bureau.

I agree with views shared by Abdul Malik Kweku Baako on newsfile on Joyfm on Saturday, July 9 that the Bureau should have forwarded its findings to a superior authority. My focus is now on the Supreme Court Justices.

I had in an earlier piece titled “Judges must “kill” radio panelist (http://www.myjoyonline.com/opinion/2016/july-2nd/judges-must-kill-radio-panelist.php) called on the Justices to deal with panelists who make such comments through contempt. This was before the Supreme Court issued the summons for the panelists.

I still stand by my earlier views and expect the Justices to punish them if they find them culpable. Till then, let the BNI be!

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