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General News of Thursday, 24 January 2019

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Two security ministers to face Parliament over kidnapped girls

Minority MPs are said to be lining up to quiz at least two security ministers over the police handling of three kidnapped girls last year.

According to the Minority Spokesperson on Interior, James Agalga, urgent questions have been filed in Parliament for Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery and National Security Minister, Albert Kan Dapaah, to answer.

The story of the captured girls in Takoradi in the Western region has captured national media attention.

Priscilla Blessing Bentum has not been seen since August 17, 2018, her five months absence is fueling worst fears. Two others, Ruth Love Quayson and 15-year old Priscilla Koranchie, were kidnapped in December and are yet to return home.

Response from the police has been delayed and dithering. Despite having a suspect strongly linked to the crime, there has been no progress in tracking the girls.

Even the suspect, a Nigerian with a history of kidnappings and conviction in Nigeria, broke police cells and was re-arrested after a public outcry in Takoradi.

The Western Regional Police Commander, ACP Redeemer Vincent Dedzo, has expressed frustration and helplessness after he revealed, the suspect, 28-year-old Samuel Udoterg Willison, has refused to talk.

National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Builsa North in the Upper East region, James Agalga has escalated the blame from the police to the government.

“I blame the current government because they ought to have to help the police to develop certain capacities to deal with certain categories of crimes,” he told Raymond Acquah on UpFront on Joy News TV.

James Agalga, a former Deputy Interior Minister under the John Mahama administration said, one of the capacities was the ability of the police to lawfully intercept telecommunications of suspected criminals.

This power was contained in the Interception of telecommunication and postal packets bill, dubbed rather infamously as the Spy Bill.

It has emerged the kidnapper was in constant communication with his victims via mobile phone. The police say his victims knew him as a man who had promised to get two of them jobs and another a mobile phone.

“If that bill were in place, we would have lawfully intercepted communication of the criminal,” the former deputy Minister criticised the then opposition NPP’s stance on the bill.

It was James Agalga who on behalf of the Mahama administration withdrew the bill citing concerns raised by civil society organisations who asked for broader consultations.

The “Spy Bill” as it is called, when passed, will grant access to security agencies to listen in on private conversations of Ghanaians with the intention of safeguarding the security of the State and fighting crime.

However, critics say if this truly is the purpose of the bill then several existing laws including the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism, Narcotic Drugs, Electronic Communications, Data Protection, Economic and Organised Crime Office, and Security and Intelligence Agencies Acts serve the objective and very well too.

Other groups and individuals have also said key provisions in the bill, particularly clause 4(3) and (4) of the Bill, which allow the National Security Coordinator to orally authorise interceptions for 48 hours without any court order or warrant should be removed from the current bill.