17.06.2009 Feature Article

What is the role of the BNI?

What is the role of the BNI?
17.06.2009 LISTEN

The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) has been in the news in recent times and many people are questioning the role of the BNI since they are the most active when there is a change of government.

Understanding the role of the BNI in Ghana has become critical now because hardly a week passes without the public hearing on the news that someone, likely an NPP politician, has been invited for questioning.

The latest prevention of Asamoah Boateng, a former Minister in the Kufuor administration, from travelling has made it necessary for the public to understand the role of the BNI.

The BNI's role as defined in the constitution, is that it is an internal intelligence agency of Ghana. Among the duties of the BNI are dealing with organized crime and providing intelligence to counter threats to national security.

The BNI is legally a creature of The Security and Intelligence Agencies Act (Act 526) 1996 having been continued in existence by section 10 of that Act.

Probably the National Commission for Civic Education can help the public to understand better the role of the BNI because as it is now it is very confusing with the likes of Mr. Akoto Ampaw, Constitutional and Human Rights lawyer, saying that under normal circumstances, allegations of financial impropriety ought to be treated as regular case and be handled by the Police, rather than the BNI.

The NPP probably had reasons to say that BNI under the rule of the National Democratic Congress amounts to nothing less than constricting the frontiers of democracy and smacks of revolutionary days of fire and brimstone.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States has a clearly defined mission of being an independent US Government agency responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior US policymakers.

Probably every American citizen knows that the CIA was created to gather foreign intelligence and is prohibited by law from participating in intelligence-gathering operations against U.S. citizens.

Then the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) whose mission is to internally help protect individuals, communities, and businesses from the most dangerous threats facing the United States from international and domestic terrorists that spies on U.S.

“It also has no law-enforcement powers. Intelligence and FBI officials say that the CIA officers are not involved in criminal investigations,” a publication by the USA Today online said.

So what is the role of the BNI in Ghana?

It has become urgent that as a country we define the role of the security agencies, making it easier for people to distinguish when a security agency is playing its role and when it is embarking on government's propaganda or helping the ruling party settle scores before the country goes into chaos.

What is going on in Ghana now is a recipe for disaster and which must be avoided, because governance and democracy is not about one political party persecuting the members of others.

Perhaps it is about politicians disagreeing to find solutions to the many developmental problems that we have as a country, we still have bad roads, lack of proper health care facilities, people are dying even from treatable diseases but cannot access even basic medicines.

There is still a lot of poverty in Ghana with people struggling to get three square meals a day, why can't we as a country concentrate on solving the development issues instead of attacking people whose views are different from us.

It is time that government and officials focus on involving citizens in national development by seeking their opinion and educating them about government policies, the constitution, the millennium development goals and also the role of security agencies especially the BNI

The fact that there are politicians with different ideologies does not make them enemies, there is unity in diversity and the earlier we realize that the better.

Credit: Hannah Asomaning

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