The Buraeau of National Investigations (BNI) yesterday reintroduced the dark days in Ghanaian politics when they subjected Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, the former Chief of Staff, to a marathon interrogation without being charged with any offence.
The apparent unconstitutional behaviour forced hundreds of former Ministers, who served in President Kufuor's government, to swamp the offices of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) yesterday, demanding access to the former Chief of Staff.
According to former Information Minister, Hon. Dan Kweku Botwe, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said they had since yesterday morning been trying to reach Mr. Mpiani on phone, without any success.
According to the ex-Ministers, they were worried over the development because the BNI had kept them in the dark as to whether Mr. Kojo Mpiani had been arrested or was just invited for questioning.
The Minority Leader
The Minority Leader, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, expressed his distaste at the arrest of Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, saying that for close to two hours, the membership of the NPP, who thronged the BNI headquarters to lend support to the former Chief of Staff, could not get any information about their colleague.
According to him, he made frantic attempts to get the Majority Leader, Hon. Kingsford Alban Bagbin, and then Minister of the Interior, Hon Clestus Avoka, to shed some light on the whereabouts of Mr. Mpiani, but both top NDC capos did not call him back.
He hinted that the BNI gates were under lock and key, depriving them assess to the place.
n his part, Prof. Mike Oquaye, Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, also gave his legal views on the matter, stating that with the ex-Chief of Staff being kept incommunicado, efforts must be made for his release, to enable them speak with him.
He stated that he and his colleagues would rally support and storm the premises of the BNI today, in an attempt to seek the release of Mr. Mpiani. Reports also indicate that the National Security Coordinator, Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, was at the scene to witness things for himself.
Mr. Frank Agyekum, former Deputy Information Minister, also told various radio stations in Accra yesterday, that at the meeting of the Association of former Ministers, which has Mr. Mpiani as its Chairman, after their usual Tuesday meeting suspected foul play, since the former Chief of Staff had been with the BNI since morning, and they therefore, decided to mobilise themselves to the headquarters of the BNI.
Mr. Frank Agyekum indicated that they were not going to the premises of the BNI to cause mayhem, but to find out why he had been there for a number of hours, after he voluntarily appeared before them. Earlier, former Minister of Information, Mr. Asamoah Boateng, expressed misgivings about the whole episode.
According to him, the motive was an attempt to intimidate and harass New Patriotic Party (NPP) officials. He alleged that the action of the BNI was aimed at President Kufuor.
Mr. Asamoah Boateng alleged that Mr. Mpiani had been moved from the premises of the BNI to an unknown destination, which he claimed raised suspicions.
“We believe that they are not following the due process. It was politically motivated,” he said, adding that if the National democratic Congress (NDC) wanted them (NPP) to play politics, they would respond appropriately.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
A Deputy Minister of Information, Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, however, denied the claim that the whereabouts of the former Chief of Staff was not known.
The Deputy Information Minister said the state was not out to harm the former Chief of Staff. He also condemned the actions of the NPP members who stormed the premises of the BNI.
According to him, the former Chief of Staff refused to eat a lunch provided for him by BNI officials, but food was procured for him from outside by one of his counsels, a lady, from the chambers of Yonni Kulendi, one of his legal counsels.
Mr. Ablakwa appealed to the NPP officials to conduct themselves in an orderly manner, so as not to breach the security at the BNI area.
According to him, Mr. Mpiani was still at the BNI premises, and expressed shock that the NPP officials were bent on creating panic within the country. “It was not a situation where Mr. Mpiani might have been picked up by the BNI with his whereabouts not known. The NPP officials know where Mr. Mpiani is, because our information is that he came to the BNI with 20 NPP former Ministers, including three lawyers.”
Mr. Ablakwa therefore wondered why the NPP members would want to incite passions and create an unfortunate situation to suggest that the BNI was there to harm Mr. Mpiani, who he said, was just being questioned on a wide range of issues.
The former influential and fearful Chief of Staff went to the BNI headquarters with party loyalists and a crack legal team. Ace lawyer, Mr. Yonni Kulendi and his associate, Mr. Egbert Faibile, Managing Editor of the Ghanaian Observer newspaper, and a female lawyer, accompanied the NPP firebrand.
Reports have it that the NPP supporters who accompanied and congested the reception of the BNI at the initial stages, later left the place, leaving the two lawyers to wait in another room whilst Mr. Mpiani faced the BNI on a wide number of issues ranging from allegations of corruption, malfeasance, financial loss to the state to a host of other issues.
At press time, sources close to this paper hinted that the BNI was likely to detain the NPP guru, based on a catalogue of issues. Insiders told this paper that since Mr. Mpiani had been playing 'hide and seek' with the BNI, everything was being done to get all the information they wanted, before releasing him.
According to insiders, the BNI officials were not happy with the way and manner Mr. Mpiani had dealt with them.
“He told us that he was an hour away from Accra, so we waited for him, and when we called him again he beat a retreat and stated that he was rather an hour away from Kumasi. He has been keeping us in a suspense for sometime now, and now that we got him, we need to squeeze everything from him,” a source hinted this paper.
“It appears that he may spend the night here. His chances are 60/40, because he has not been cooperative with the BNI,” another source hinted. The former Chief of Staff, this paper gathered, arrived at the premises of the BNI at about 11:00 a.m., but querying started at about 2:00 p.m.
It would be recalled that the BNI extended an invitation to Mr. Mpiani, who could not turn up, with reasons that he was attending a series of funerals in his hometown, and decided to meet the BNI officials at his own time.
Mr. Mpiani promised to meet with the officials of the BNI on Monday, after the BNI officials went to his house, but again failed to appear before them on the appointed day, until he appeared yesterday morning with his lawyers.
Agyenim Boateng Another Deputy Minister of Information, Mr. James Agyenim Boateng, who spoke to Joy FM at press time last night, dismissed allegations that Mr. Mpiani had been arrested.
According to him, Mr. Mpiani was not guilty until proven by a competent court of the land. He said the BNI officials had invited the former Chief of Staff to answer questions on a wide range of issues. Among the former Ministers and dozens of supporters who went to the BNI premises were Mr. Joe Ghartey, former Attorney-General, Hon. Osei-Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Minority Leader, Hon. Gladys Asmah, former Minister of Fisheries, Hon. Kwamena Bartels, former Interior Minister, Mr. Asamoah Boateng, a.k.a Asabee, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, former Deputy Minister of Finance, among a host of others.
Meanwhile the former Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Maxwell Kofi Juma, has called on on his colleague MPs to boycott parliament, and move to the BNI headquaters until Mr. Mpiani was relased.
In a related development, two reporters of the Daily Guide newspaper were reportedly detained by the BNI for hovering around the premises of the security institution.
The Deputy Minister of Information, Mr. James Agyenim Boateng, however denied that saying when they two were identified as reporters, they were immediately released after being educated on the area being a security zone.