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Opinions of Sunday, 21 June 2009

Columnist: Salia, Albert K.

NPP hypocrisy exposed.

Flashback 2001: BNI Has Power of Arrest

...It’s in accordance with Security Agencies Act

(Thursday, 3 May 2001) THE Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) has rejected the assertion that it has no power or authority to arrest any citizen when it becomes necessary.

It said Section 40 of the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, (Act 526 of 1996), confers the power of arrest on the agency just as any other intelligence agency of the state.

The BNI was reacting to comments in recent media reports concerning the organisation’s power of arrest with particular reference to the arrest of Mr Victor Selormey, former Deputy Minister of Finance, which caused a furore.

It quoted Section 40 of Act 526 which states that: “Subject to the Constitution, an employee of any of the internal intelligence agency shall in the performance of his duty under this Act has the same rights and powers as are conferred by law on a police officer in the performance of his duties and shall have the same protection”.

It said the BNI was, therefore, acting within the law when its officers arrested Mr Selormey.

Meanwhile, a senior police intelligence officer has explained that when the power of arrest is conferred on an organisation, “an arrest can be effected anytime and anywhere”.

The officer said a security officer does not take the status of the person to be arrested into consideration before an arrest is effected.

He explained that the one effecting the arrest would have to use his or her discretion, depending on the gravity of the case or the offence, how much information is available and the implications of allowing a suspect to interact with people before he or she is invited.

The officer explained that the method used in effecting an arrest differs from person to person and also depends on the conduct of a suspect or the person being arrested.

The officer said arrests can also be made with or without warrants and said arrests must not necessarily be made with handcuffs.

Source: Graphic -By Albert K. Salia