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Opinion | Feb 7, 2019

National Security: Role Of Intelligence, Institutions And Legal Framework In Ghana

Observer On National Security Affairs And Student Of Security And Intelligence
By Moses.Y Jatuat
National Security: Role Of Intelligence, Institutions And Legal Framework In Ghana

The use of the terms “National Security” and “Intelligence “is increasingly becoming common among many people; law enforcement personnel, security, social & political commentators and the general public etc. This phenomenon stems from the fact that citizens are becoming more concerned about their safety and security and in exercise of their guaranteed rights to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution, they seek accountability, transparency and rule of law regarding matters of national security and intelligence operations. However these public engagements, views, opinions and criticisms must be guided by well- informed and appreciable insight into the subject of national security so as to help improve and shape the management and governance of national security. Security education is very vital to maintenance of national security and therefore calls for increased education on the subject of national security and intelligence which are inextricably linked so as to effectively maximize the contributions of citizens in our search for national security.

The definition of national security has been debated for years as to what actually should constitute national security of a sovereign nation. It can be looked at from the defense point of view as protecting the territorial integrity of one's nation; monitoring internally from within the state’s jurisdiction and externally beyond the state's borders or in terms of a country's foreign relations which is to promote as well as protect the interests of the nation. This national interest includes our political, economic and military interests.

National security encompasses the totality of measures aimed at ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the people as well as the protection of their assets, resources, institutions and interests. It also includes the concept that has become known as “human security” which includes but not limited to “safety from chronic threats such as hunger, diseases and repressions as well as protection from sudden and harmful disruptions in patterns of daily life-whether in homes, in jobs or in communities” (UNDP,1994).

Ghana, like other nations has responsibility to protect and safeguard these national interests. Against this backdrop, it can be said that there is some perceived threat to the national interest. Though greater responsibility lie with public office holders who are custodians of the national interest, collective responsibility lie with all citizens to contribute to national security. However, often times our interests are not aroused to assess the effect of these threats to the national interest, state structures available for protection of these threats and the role of citizens in the protection of these national interests.

This is blamed partly on our lack of or limited knowledge on what is termed “National Security”. The measures to maintain national security require dedicated institutions and resources hence the rationale for nations establishing and maintaining national agencies responsible for the implementation of security policies and management of national security.

Ghana’s national security framework comprises critical institutions responsible for implementation of security policies and management of the national security agenda. These institutions perform functions that have direct bearing on the collective will and aspirations of the Ghanaian people- securing the national interest as enshrined in chapter six/6 of the 1992 Constitution. Articles 83 of the Constitution and the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act 1996, Act 526 mentions some of the state security agencies responsible for national security. They include but not limited to;

Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Ministry of Defence.

Ghana Police Service, Ministry of Interior.

Ghana Prisons Service, Ministry of Interior. Ghana Immigration Service, Ministry of Interior.

Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS)-now Custom Division of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA-CD), Ministry of Finance.

Ghana National Fire Service, Ministry of Interior.

Research Department (RD), Ministry of National Security.

Bureau of National Investigation (BNI), Ministry of National Security.

All these organizations perform national security functions. Collectively, they are referred to as national security agencies. They however have distinct roles as far as the overall agenda of protecting the national interest (ie national security) is concerned. The legislations or laws establishing them spell out their mandates. [Please see Armed Forces Act 1962, (ACT 105), Police Service Act 1970, (ACT 350), Prisons Service Decree 1972 (NRCD 46), Customs Excise and Preventive Service (Management) Law, 1993 (PNDCL 330), Ghana Revenue Authority Act 2009, (ACT 791), Immigration Service Act, 2016 (ACT 908), Ghana National Fire Service Act 1997, (ACT 537)].

These roles also differ in terms modes of operations. While some are visible others operate in the quiet but complement each other. Of course the Ghana Armed Forces (comprising army, navy and air force) and their civil counterparts (police, prisons, CEPS, Immigration Service and GNFS) are easily identified in their respective service uniforms and interact more often with the public. Their immediate functions which are well appreciated by the public are general security duties including patrols, escort duties, border guard duties, passport processing, fire fighting and fire safety education etc…

There is the other category whose day to day operations are often away from public view and knowledge. They operate in the quiet; maintain a low profile but busily gathering information, observing with eagle eyes movements and actions of people, maintaining vigilance on all persons in the country. One may ask… of what business has security agencies got to do with people going about their daily activities? The following two scenarios will enable fellow citizens to understand the distinction being drawn.

Take the case of a planned armed robbery operation on a bus. Two men suspiciously enter a drinking bar to strategize on how to launch the attack with weapons under the pretext of going to drink some beer. Their movements are monitored, surveillance placed on them and their conversations intercepted and analyzed to arrive at the conclusion (intelligence) that the men are determined to carry out the attack and not just mere alcohol talk. They are later apprehended, weapons ceased and suspects processed for court. The attack was prevented. People on the bus had a peaceful journey and never heard of it.

Also consider that country A mainly depends on oil exports to generate revenue to build roads, schools, hospitals, to finance agricultural production etc…. Country B activates plans to destroy the former’s oil installation s and facilities. A has no fore knowledge about the intended attack- who, why, where, when and how so that military and police could be deployed to tighten

physical security around the installations while other measures are taken to counteract the threat. The attack eventually occurs with serious impact on the people.

The above two scenarios point to one thing-INFORMATION. In the first instance advanced and accurate information was obtained through suspicion, observation, interception and analysis of conversations, actions, capability and timely action taken to prevent the incidence while in the latter situation no such information was available. It is this kind of information gathering and analysis that this less visible organizations concern themselves with. It is this area of security which is referred to as Intelligence or Security Intelligence or better still National Security Intelligence.

The agencies engaged in this are called Intelligence Agencies and are responsible for information and intelligence collection. The subject of intelligence goes beyond mere collection of information as it is a professional activity carried out by well-trained intelligence professionals (field operatives/collectors of raw information, intelligence analysts and subject matter specialists) who operate under code and its role in protecting the national interest or maintaining national security cannot be over emphasized.


The renowed Chinese General and military theorist Sun Tsu, states in his book “The Art of War"; “thus what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve great things beyond the reach of the ordinary man, is foreknowledge. Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits; it cannot be obtained inductively from experience, nor by any deductive calculation. Knowledge of the enemy's dispositions can only be obtained from other men. Therefore, enlightened rulers who are able to obtain intelligent agents as spies are certain for great achievements. If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear a hundred battles. If you know yourself and not the enemy, for every victory you will suffer a defeat. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you are a fool and will meet defeat in 1every battle" [ Chapter 13,”On Spies", The Art of War, translated by Lionel Giles; 13:006 in the Shonsi system].

This still remain valid today hence nations now consider this foreknowledge as means to their survival. Intelligence is not only required in wartime but very vital in peacetime. Peacetime intelligence is a very vital ingredient to the maintenance of national security, promotion of world peace and international security.

Defining Intelligence

Otherwise referred to as national security intelligence or simply intelligence can looked at as;

(a) Process which comprises the collection and analysis of information needed to secure national security as well as the institutions involved in this process. Or,

(b) Product (of the process). End product of processed information needed to take decision in protection of national security.

This second usage of the term is what is becoming more common in Ghana. However, the proper context, institutions, processes involved in producing intelligence and how citizens can contribute to the process is what has not been fully appreciated by many including law enforcement personnel, media, social and political analysts, commentators etc.

Before, I proceed to examine this subject of intelligence proper, i shall visit some of the misuse of the terms “National Security” and “Intelligence” in the Ghanaian media space. This will form the basis of this article and allow readers to appreciate the concept of “national security” and the invaluable role of intelligence, relevant state institutions charged with responsibility to provide intelligence and how citizens can contribute to this collective responsibility of securing the national interest (national security).

“National Security “as state institution

I know most people might be reading for the first time that the widely misleading reportage of “national security” as a state security agency by most journalists, political party commentators etc is not the case. It is common to read in the media of “arrests being carried out by national security”, “joint training exercise being under taken by national security and other security agencies” among other headlines and discussions portraying national security as a “monster" security agency. The other time I overheard a uniformed police officer in a “chop bar" struggling to school some non-security friends about “national security” He concluded by saying “among all the security agencies, national security is the most powerful, when they arrive they take over everything from we those on the ground, everybody fears them, in fact if you are there you are o.k. I also heard a respected top politician on television say the Bureau of National Investigation is a department under the Ghana Police Service. (Please see some examples of such headlines: ghanaweb-5/1/2018,,

It must be emphasized that there is no security organization in Ghana called “National Security”. Per article 85 of Ghana1992 Constitution, no agency, establishment or other organization concerned with national security shall established except as provided under the constitution. Having scanned through all laws relating to security and intelligence operations in Ghana, i have not come across any law be in the constitution or an act of parliament that establishing “national security” as a security agency.

I however, concede that this confusion in the minds of many including some journalists, politicians, security personnel among others is primarily as a result of the enforcement actions of the National Security Council Secretariat otherwise known as “blue gate” from the PNDC era to date which I believe after reading this article, readers will fully understand the processes and structures available and how citizens can to contribute to secure national security.


It is common hearing people say “they picked up intelligence” or they possess “intelligence”. In actual fact what they refer to as “intelligence” is actually information. As defined earlier, intelligence as a product is an end product of processed, analyzed information required for decision making. This is a professional activity undertaken by professional collectors of raw information and specialist analysts who sift through the information to sieve out the chaff and bring out the valuables. To do, this one requires special training in intelligence and not all persons engaged in security work is intelligence professional.

Some scholars however qualify raw information with intelligence value in its raw form as “intelligence information”.

This is to recognize the fact some information in its raw form is of intelligence value that can be used particularly for operational purposes without being subjected to professional intelligence analysis. Others contend that information that has not been analyzed remains information. It must however be noted that not all information produces intelligence when processed and analyzed.


Intelligence has many disciplines including economic intelligence, political intelligence, military intelligence, criminal intelligence among other specialized disciplines.

Economic Intelligence

Intelligence dealing with the country's economy, foreign economic trade and financial activities affecting Ghana’s national security. Intelligence on activities (fraud, illicit financial activities, corruption, climate change etc) that will affect adversely our economic production capacity in the different economic sectors; energy, manufacturing, industries etc constitute economic intelligence. This intelligence is also needed to take decisions that will enable the nation take advantage of competitive world opportunities for economic growth and development, promote economic well-being of citizens and ensure economic security.

Political Intelligence

Intelligence on political developments and policy changes that pose threats to peace and security is needed by all nations. Intelligence focus on intentions, political actions, present or future of foreign governments, organizations or persons both within and without that pose threats security of the nation so as to prevent subversion, coup d’états or undermine the independence and sovereignty of the nation.

Military Intelligence

This type of intelligence relates to that which deals with national defence involving the military or armed forces of Ghana. Information is collected on the plans, capability, intentions, size etc of other militaries while at the same preventing other nations from discovering our military capability, plans and secrets. The responsibility to protect Ghana's territories (land, sea and air space) is a function of the military hence the need for intelligence (military or defence intelligence) on any impending aggression on Ghana’s territory, installations or infrastructure of military significance.

Criminal Intelligence

This information is usually collected in support of law enforcement actions. Intelligence collected is used to detect, prevent or help in investigation and prosecution of crime. Technically called criminal intelligence, it is an aspect of intelligence that police or law enforcement agencies deal with. Criminal Intelligence is collected and disseminated to relevant law enforcement agencies that require it to perform their functions.

The Intelligence Process or Cycle

As a process: Collection, analysis and dissemination of information needed for decision making by policy makers and government officials technically called “consumers”. Information collected is taken through a process to arrive at the end product “Intelligence" which is then communicated to “consumers". This is referred to as the intelligence process, simplified “intelligence cycle”.

This cycle is illustrated using model adopted from Lowenthal (2006, pp 55),


This usually comes from policy makers (political authority, senior military or government officials responsible for taking critical decisions to safeguard national security. This is based on threat to the national interest. It also specifies the type of intelligence required, and by which agency.


Methods, means and sources of information. Here raw information is collected for the processing stage. A wide range of methods can be used; open (overt) or secret (covet). Human capability can be used (ie use of agents, informants etc) or technical means (ie electronic).

Processing & Exploitation

Collected information is processed. This involves organizing the information ie translations, decryption, interpretation, decoding, data reduction, segregation, aggregation etc.

Analysis &Production

At this stage processed information is collated, evaluated and analyzed to produce what is called finished intelligence. Specially trained subject matter analysts look out for reliability of sources, validity and relevance of the processed information relative to the threat and make comparisons with other sources, events, implications and assessments and then delivering sound results (intelligence) in the form of intelligence report needed for decision-making.

Dissemination & Consumption

Finished intelligence, not information is communicated to consumers (decision makers who requested the intelligence ie political authority, senior military or government officials) who need the intelligence to take decision. The intelligence is provided to only those who actually need it to take decisions (need-to-know basis and people with prior security clearance receive it).These decisions may call for new requirements and this will trigger the process again cycle.

So as it can be seen from above, the process is not just a simple one of having information. The process of actually going through this process to obtain the needed intelligence to safeguard national security is an intricate matter which the intelligence organization protect from unauthorized disclosures and attempts to know their methods, sources of information or human assets (espionage agents, officers) constitute offence in all nations. The scope of this article does not cover intelligence operations, methods, modus operandi.

Contemporary Definition of National Security in the 21stCentury

US National Security Act, 1947 (as amended through P.L 115-232, Enacted August 13, 2018), SEC 3[50 U.S.C 3003] defines intelligence as that which includes foreign intelligence and counterintelligence. It further defines;

Foreign intelligence as “information relating to the capabilities, intentions, or activities of foreign governments or elements thereof, foreign organizations or foreign persons, or international terrorists activities”.

Counterintelligence as “information gathered, and activities conducted, to protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted by or on behalf of foreign governments or elements thereof, foreign organizations, foreign persons or international terrorist activities”.

Kenya National Intelligence Service Act, No.28 ( 2012 as amended 2014) defines intelligence as; “information which has been collated, evaluated and analyzed and which is relevant to a government's decision making formulation and implementation of policy in relation to any internal or external threat or potential threat to national security as well as promotion of national security and national interests”.

Following from above, It can be seen that the need for intelligence from these perspectives is as result of some threat (real or perceived).

Ghana’s Security and Intelligence Services Act 1996 (ACT 526), Section 42, defines threats to the Security of Ghana as;

(a) Espionage or sabotage that is against Ghana or is detrimental to the interest of Ghana or activities directed towards or in support of such espionage or sabotage,

(b) Foreign influenced activities within or relating to Ghana that are detrimental to the interest of Ghana and are clandestine or deceptive or involve a threat to any person or,

(c) Activities within or relating to Ghana directed towards or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons, property for the purpose of achieving a political objective within Ghana or a foreign state.


In order to satisfy the need for intelligence, countries dedicate organizations for intelligence collection. These institutions have since evolved in the aftermath of World War II and gone through various transformations in response to changing or emerging security threats. Today, most nations have separate, dedicated agencies or departments for Foreign Intelligence, Domestic Intelligence and Military Intelligence and co-ordination, supervisory mechanisms and structures for ensuring accountability for management of national intelligence.

Country External (Foreign) Intelligence Internal (Domestic) Intelligence Military Intelligence
Ghana Research Department Bureau of National Investigation Department of Defence Intelligence of the Ghana Armed Forces
Nigeria National Intelligence Agency State Security Services Defence Intelligence Agency of the Nigeria Armed Forces
Kenya External Intelligence Division of the National Intelligence Agency 1. Internal Intelligence Division of the National Intelligence Agency, 2. Counterintelligence Division of the National Intelligence Agency Directorate of Defense Intelligence of Kenyan Defence Force
France General Directorate for External Security General Directorate for External Security Directorate of Military Intelligence
UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI 6) Security Service (MI 5) Directorate of Defence Intelligence
US Central Intelligence Agency Federal Bureau of Investigation Defence Intelligence Agency of the US Armed Forces

Aside these dedicated intelligence services which are the established national security intelligence agencies charged with responsibility to gather intelligence and supply to policy makers as well as support law enforcement agencies like the police, customs and immigration services, there exist also some specialized supporting intelligence services which focus on particular security threats such as drug trafficking, cyber crime, money laundering and financial crimes etc and they all feed into the national intelligence machinery.

Further to that, law enforcement or uniformed security organizations maintain intelligence units that gather intelligence to support them in execution of their primary mandates. Though not independent national intelligence agencies strictly speaking, they form part of what is referred to as “Intelligence Community” as they contribute to intelligence collection.

Even companies or corporate entities gather information on market trends, international market or to gain insight into the strategies, technology and production systems of competing firms (though this may amount to industrial espionage ie illegally gaining access to a company's classified information that may be disadvantageous to the company).

However, the established national security intelligence agencies have extensive mandate to gather information and intelligence on all activities that pose threat to the security of Ghana and also assist law enforcement agencies and the specialized supporting agencies in pursuance of the overall national security agenda.


This law was enacted in 1996 as the law governing operations of the intelligence agencies and to give effect to Article 83 of the Ghana 1992 Constitution by making provision legally, for operationalization of the national Security Council, intelligence agencies and attendant matters relating to security and intelligence administration in Ghana. Before the passage of this law, intelligence operations were already being undertaken and this date back to 1948 when the Special Branch (now BNI) was established, followed by the Research Department in 1958. Article 83 (1) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 10 of Act 526provides the legal basis for operations of RD and BNI under the forth Republic, having been the agencies responsible for External and Internal Intelligence respectively immediately before the coming into force of the Act. It further provides in Section 11, a governing council (National Security Council) to regulate or over see the activities of the Intelligence Agencies. Like the Armed Forces Council, Police Service Council, Prisons Service Council etc where critical decisions are taken regarding the effective and efficient performance of the functions of the Ghana Armed Forces, Police Service or Prisons Service respectively, decisions regarding not only the effective and efficient performance of the functions of the intelligence services (including funding, appointments and promotion of senior officers) etc but also all matters of national security including that concerning defence intelligence and the capability of the Armed Forces to defend the nation.

Section 12(1) spells out functions of the intelligence agencies as;

(a) Collect, analyze, retain and disseminate as appropriate information and intelligence respecting activities that may constitute threats to the security of the state and the governed of Ghana.

(b) Safeguard the economic well being of the state against threats poses by the acts or omissions of persons or organizations both inside and outside the country.

(c) Protect the state against threats of espionage, sabotage, terrorism, hijacking, piracy, drug trafficking and similar offences.

(d) Protect the state against the activities of persons, both nationals and non-nationals, intended to overthrow the government of Ghana through illegal political, military, industrial or other means or through any other unconstitutional method and,

(e)Perform such other functions as may be directed by the president or the National Security Council.

Internal security is one critical function of the internal intelligence agencies worldwide and the Special Branch and later BNI has discharged this function over the years. In recognition of this vital function, the law grants enforcement powers to the Bureau and its officers as has been granted to the police and other law enforcement agencies including specialized supporting intelligence/investigative agencies like NACOB and EOCO.(see Section 40, Act 526,Narcotics Drugs Control, Enforcement and Sanctions Law, 1990, PNDC Law 236, EOCO

Act, 2010, Act 804).This include powers of arrests, restriction, detention, investigations and assistance with prosecution of suspects in accordance with the criminal procedure code

1960 (Acts 29 & 30) and other criminal offences. These powers are however subject to the Constitution and international law. This explains why the Bureau sometimes becomes subject of public criticisms and legal suits for alleged human rights violations.

In its counterintelligence functions, the BNI undertakes intelligence operations aimed at denying Foreign Intelligence Services/FIS or agents of FIS, hostile international organizations, or persons engaged in;

(a) Espionage-illegally collecting information of security interest

(b) Terrorism-acts involving serious violence or threats of violence against persons intended to coerce or intimidate or influence governmental activity or action.

(c) Subversion-intended to undermine the morale or loyalty of citizens to create an atmosphere of disaffection and lower the faith of citizens in their nation or government or

(d) Sabotage-act or omission intended to cause physical damage to vital national installations ie oil installations, bulk ammunition depots, power stations, vital security and national assets in furtherance of the agenda of a foreign power, hostile organization or subversive organization,

The BNI undertakes investigations into these acts which sometimes lead to arrests, detention and prosecution and/or deportation of hostile agents or covet operatives or in the case of diplomats declare them “persona non-grata". This come with huge challenges, some diplomatic, particularly when the foreign threat combines foreign personnel with citizens of one's own country with attendant human rights concerns.

The arrest and deportation of three/3 ex-South African police officers in March, 2016by the BNI for alleged illegal training activities which in the view of the BNI endangered national security is a classic example. ( recall events of 1985, following discovery by the CIA that one of its staff- an operations support staff (clerk), Ms.Sharon Scarange, working in the CIA Station Office, Accra inside the US Embassy had leaked sensitive information on US intelligence operations in Ghana including identities of their Ghanaian agents some of who were senior security/government officials of the Ghana government to Michael Soussoudis, her Ghanaian lover. As a result of this she was arrested and put before trial alongside Soussoudis who was lured into US, arrested and charged for spying against the US. A spy exchange programme was negotiated between the two countries for the exchange of 8 alleged spies who were also facing trial in Ghana. Michael Soussoudis was subsequently convicted of espionage but in line with the diplomatic arrangements; he was given 24 hours to leave US. Ghana government also stripped 8 of the “spies “of their Ghanaian nationality and escorted them out of Ghanaian territory.

It was also reported that some US embassy officials (CIA Officers)expelled by the Ghana government around that time was linked to this incident.(Please see Washington Post, July19,

1985, report by Caryle Murphy, New York Times, July 13, report by Stephen Engelberg, Declassified US CIA files CIA-RDP90-0096R0005004650042-9).

The Intelligence Act makes provision for legal remedies in respect of human rights violations. (see Sections 21-31) and further to that the intelligence agencies operations are subject ton the constitution of Ghana. This explains why there was huge public outcry over government's moves to introduce a bill in parliament to strengthen the intelligence agencies’ surveillance activities in response growing incidents of terrorism and violent extremism in the sub- region(, 30/6/2016, Ghana Bar Association Statement dated 11/3/2016). This bill, known as Interception of Telecommunications and Postal Packets Bill received wide criticisms from cross section of the public particularly human rights activities and was subsequently suspended.(, 30/6/2016, Ghana Bar Association Statement dated 11/3/2016).

In furtherance of the National Security Council’s efforts to ensure high standards of efficiency of the intelligence agencies and internal discipline of officers, the BNI Regulations, 2015 ( L.I 2227) was passed by parliament to enhance personnel discipline, deepen intelligence sector accountability and ensure conformity to the rule of law and protection of human rights. The regulation provides for procedure for recruitments, appointments and promotion of officers, retirements, disciplinary procedures, conditions of service among other related matters.(Also seeghanaweb-5/1/2016).



Established National Intelligence Agencies

1. Research Department (External Intelligence Agency)

2. Bureau of National Investigation (Internal Intelligence Agency)

Semi-autonomous Departments

3. Department of Defence Intelligence of the Ghana Armed Forces

Specialized Supporting Intelligence/Law Enforcement Agencies

4. Narcotics Control Board/NACOB (Drug Intelligence Agency)

5. Economic and Organized Crime Office/EOCO (Economic Intelligence)

6. Financial Intelligence Centre/FIC (Financial Intelligence, Monitoring money laundering and terrorist financing)

Investigation Departments

7. Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service.

The members of the Intelligence community can thus be listed as;

Research Department, Ministry of National Security.

Bureau of National Investigation, Ministry of National Security.

Department of Defence Intelligence of the Ghana Armed Force

Narcotics Control Board, Ministry of Interior.

Economic and Organized Crime Office, Ministry of Justice

Financial Intelligence Centre, Ministry of Finance.

Criminal Investigation Department of Ghana Police Service, Ministry of Interior.

Functions of each of the members of the intelligence community as well as other national

security agencies is illustrated below in terms of what constitute their primarily function as well as secondary function(s)in our quest maintain national security. Basically security agencies are established for law enforcement & internal security, intelligence and defence.

For the purpose of this article, the functions of agencies are categorized as follows and presented below;

External Intelligence-Collection of foreign intelligence (outside Ghana) other than military intelligence.

Internal Intelligence-Collection of domestic intelligence (within Ghana) other than military intelligence.

Military Intelligence-Collection of intelligence of military nature (within and without)

Law Enforcement & Internal Security-Maintenance of law and public order, ensue compliance with criminal laws and regulations relating to national security, preservation of social order, public morality and safety.

Border Security & Defence-Security operations aimed at securing and protecting the country's borders (territorial land, water and air against any incursions, enforcement of migration and customs laws.

Criminal Justice-security operations involving the administration of justice and justice delivery including criminal investigations, criminal prosecution, enforcement of court judgments, custody, detentions and correctional services.

Primary function-Functions for which the legal basis for existence of the agency is provided in law. It refers to a set of functions that form the core of the agencies responsibilities in accordance with the law establishing it.

Secondary function-Subsidiary functions which also have legal basis but are functions that form the core other agency's core mandate. Simply put functions it undertakes to help in the execution of its primary function (core mandate).

Agency External Intelligence Internal Intelligence Military Intelligence Internal Security & Law enforcement Border Security & Defence Criminal Justice
RD Primary Secondary Secondary N/A N/A N/A
BNI NIL Primary Secondary Secondary Secondary Secondary
DDI, GAF N/A N/A Primary Secondary Primary N/A
NACOB N/A Secondary N/A Secondary Secondary Primary
EOCO N/A Secondary N/A Secondary Primary
FIC N/A Secondary N/A Primary
CID, POLICE N/A Secondary N/A Primary Secondary Primary
GIS N/A N/A N/A Secondary Primary N/A
GRA- CD N/A N/A N/A Secondary Primary N/A
PRISON N/A N/A N/A Secondary N/A Primary
GNFS N/A N/A N/A Primary N/A

RD: Research Department, DDI: Department of Defense Intelligence , GAF: Ghana Armed Forces

FIC: Financial Intelligence Centre, CID: Criminal Investigation Department, GIS: Ghana Immigration GRA-CD: Ghana Revenue Authority-Customs Division, GNFS: Ghana National Fire Service, N/A: Not Applicable.

Research Department, Ministry of National Security.

The Research Department was established in 1958 by Ghana's first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in recognition of the need to have intelligence in advancement of Ghana's foreign policy and for assessment of international events that have effects on Ghana’s national interest in terms of Ghana's participation in international co-operation, international trade and regional integration.

The department, an independent civilian external intelligence organization operating under the structures of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through Ghana's missions abroad, is an important organ of the National Security Council under the direct administration and control of the Ministry of National Security with responsibility for provision of timely external intelligence to government for policy formulation. Headquartered in Ghana, the Department is responsible for provision of information and intelligence on a wide range of threats to national security including political, economic, and industrial. It advices government on emerging threats to external security including threats posed by Foreign Intelligence Services, hostile international organizations, persons engaged in espionage, sabotage and terrorism. Intelligence provided by it helps foreign, defence and national security policy formulation and the conduct of foreign diplomacy.

It has jurisdiction outside Ghana and does not exercise enforcement powers or internal security functions. It however works in close collaboration with the Bureau of National Investigation (Internal Intelligence) and Department of Defence Intelligence of the Ghana Armed Forces in intelligence sharing to safeguard national security. The Director Research Department reports directly to the National Security Co-ordinator. Former Directors Research Department includes Mr. Ben Forjoe, Ambassador Alex Danquah, Mr. Yaw Osei, Mr. D.K Mensah and Ambassador Rasheed Seidu Inusah. Current Director is Mr. Peter Nyarko Opata.

Bureau of National Investigation, Ministry of National Security

Formally called Special Branch, a secret police department of the Ghana Police Service was Ghana's only intelligence organization responsible for counterintelligence and internal security. It was established in 1948 as “Special Branch” by the British colonial administration following the February 1948 riots in Accra which led to the shooting of some ex-service men who had embarked on a protest march. The colonial administration saw its establishment as a means to keep itself abreast of happenings in the colony and means to obtaining advanced intelligence on political activities as the struggle for political independence gained momentum. With its origin from the police service, it was initially composed of professional police investigators and officers transferred from mainstream police to the branch for intelligence work until later when direct recruitment of professionals were being carried out as the demands of intelligence work became more sophisticated and need for varied expertise became imperative (see Bentum Quantson, Ghana: National Security-Chapters from the Intelligence Sector and also Bentum Quantson, Security in the Hand of God).

Its directors were mostly police commissioners who reported to the Inspector General of Police just like the Commissioner/CID as they were then referred to. At some points in the history of the organization, the Special Branch was put directly under the Office of the President while in other times it was reverted back to the police command. This was often due to regime changes characterized by dismissal of personnel or movement of officers back to mainstream traditional uniform policing or to CID and vice-versa, most affected being Directors and senior officers. (Please see Bentum Quantson, Ghana: National Security-The Dilemma. pp 171-174, Bentum Quantson, Ghana: Peace and Stability-Chapters from the Intelligence Sector. pp 159and Bentum Quantson-Security in the Hand of God. pp 329-336).

Later in 1982, it was separated from the police and re-organized into an autonomous civilian paramilitary Internal Intelligence Agency responsible for counterintelligence and Internal security with Mr. Kofi Bentum Quantson as first Director BNI.

It continued to maintain its internal security and law enforcement function same as it did as special branch. For this reason, it undertakes investigations into various activities inimical to national security including criminal investigations, economic and financial crime investigations etc. Its officers have the same rights, powers and privileges as those of police officers and other security agencies vested with enforcement powers (see Sec 40, Security and Intelligence Agencies Act 1996 (Act 526).

However, with changing trend in crime and threats to global peace and security, and the need to have separate specialized agencies that will focus on particular security threats, the BNI has shed some of its responsibilities to supporting law enforcement agencies which deals with criminal intelligence like NACOB (drug law enforcement and drug intelligence) and EOCO formally Serious Fraud Office which deals with economic and organized crimes intelligence and investigations. (see Narcotics Drugs Control, Enforcement & Sanctions Act, 1990, PNDC law 236, Economic and Organized Crime Office Act, 2010, Act 804).

It nonetheless still performs these functions as secondary functions in support of the specialized supporting members of the intelligence community and may on request by the President or National Security Council take over investigations into any threat that require the special attention of the Bureau. Its core functions include but not limited to; counter-sabotage, counter- espionage, counter-terrorism, counter-subversion, counter-narcotics, security surveillance, criminal investigations of national security dimension, border and internal security.

In its counterintelligence efforts, it maintains high level of vigilance on the internal activities of organizations or persons, nationals or non-nationals such as radical groups, political groupings and movements whose activities have the potential to undermine the country's political stability or undermine national security generally.

It also through its various protective security mechanisms including vetting/security clearance of public officials (senior government officials, military, police, and other high profile personalities) whose appointments involve handling of classified material, preserve and protects public records and classified materials from unauthorized disclosures .BNI officers nationwide observe and report on security breaches that create vulnerabilities at vital national installations and facilities for security measures to be taken to safeguard the integrity of these vital installations.

As an internal intelligence agency, it works in direct collaboration with the Research Department, the Department of Defence Intelligence of the Ghana Armed Forces and other members of the intelligence community in pursuit of the national security agenda. The Bureau which is a critical organ of the National Security Council is headed by the Director who reports directly to the National Security Co-ordinator and has jurisdiction throughout Ghana.

Former Directors Special Branch include J.W.K Harlley, Mr. Ben Forjoe, Mr. J.H Owusu Sekyere, Mr. C. K Mawuenyega, Mr. Anthony Deku, Prof. G.K.A Ofosu Armah, Mr. Kofi Bentum Quantson. Former Directors BNI include Mr. K.B Quantson, Mr. P. T Nafuri, Mr.Yaw Donkor, Mr. Jones Afari, Mr. J.B Amofa, Mr. Ellis Owusu Fordjour, Mr. Joshua Kyeremeh and Mr. William Akwasi Appiah. Current Director is Ambassador/Mr. Rasheed Seidu Inusah, formerly Director of the Research Department.

Department of Defence Intelligence of Ghana Armed Forces, MOD

Formally Military Intelligence Unit (not to be confused with military police), the department under the Ghana Armed Forces is a semi-autonomous Intelligence Agency dedicated to the provision of intelligence relevant to the protection and defence of the territorial integrity of Ghana ( sea, land, air).

This includes information on the intentions, plans, military strength and capability of other armed forces while also preserving and protecting military secrets from unauthorized disclosures. It comprises Army Intelligence, Naval Intelligence and Air Intelligence. They gather military intelligence both within and without and maintain high level vigilance on the country's borders. Army intelligence is provided on armed militant activities, insurgency or illegal military activities of other armies, movements of troops, weapons etc to enable the Ghana Army (infantry and other land forces) to tackle the threat with military force.

Air intelligence is provided on activities in Ghana's territorial air space; illegal military activities including flight activities, movements of military aircrafts, air surveillance activities etc to enable Ghana Air Force employ military force to protect Ghana's territorial air space and improve aviation safety and air transport.

Naval intelligence is provided on threats to Ghana's maritime boundaries to enable the Ghana Navy employ military force to protect Ghana's maritime boundaries, improve marine transport safety, international trade and fight piracy. With production of oil in commercial quantities, there has been increased intelligence activity to protect our oil installations and production.

In doing so the Department of Defence Intelligence works in direct collaboration with the Research Department and the BNI in intelligence sharing to achieve this critical national security and defence objective. It is an important organ of the National Security Council and is headed by a Director who reports directly to the Chief of Defence Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces but also answerable to the National Security Co-ordinator who is head of the intelligence community and co-ordinator of activities of the various security agencies on behalf of the National Security Council which is the highest decision making body in terms of Ghana's national security.

Former Directors include Brigadier General M.M Hassan, Lieutenant General Joshua Hamidu, Colonel Winifred Annor Odjija.


NACOB, EOCO, FIC and CID of Ghana Police Service plus investigation units of the other uniformed security agencies all undertake intelligence collection usually criminal intelligence or what is often referred to as “police intelligence” to support their operations. Technically, it is criminal intelligence as it is required by all agencies in the fight against criminal activities in line with their primary mandates.

Though most of its officers are criminal investigators and crime specialists (forensic scientists, counter-fraud and financial crime analysts etc) and not professional intelligence officers operating under the code and ethics of professional intelligence practice (except those of NACOB),they posses training in basic intelligence gathering but usually rely on the established national security intelligence agencies who are responsible for collection, processing and analysis of security intelligence.


National Security and Intelligence matters are usually handled at the highest governmental level, and co-ordinated as to consolidate the different efforts of the various elements of the intelligence community and to maximize its benefits. The concept of National Security Councils is generally becoming accepted norm in the management of National Security and Intelligence even though some countries have different mechanisms and structures for intelligence co-ordination. But basically, there is a converging point where decisions about threat (current or future), the intelligence required and decisions regarding what policy measure/direction to take, given the intelligence at hand.

Country Supervisory Authority Democratic Accountability
Ghana President, National Security Council, Minister for National Security, National Security Co-ordinator Parliament Select Committee on Defence and Interior, Financial Audit-Auditor General Complaints Tribunal
Nigeria National Security Council, National Intelligence Service Council, Cabinet Secretary for Intelligence Parliament, Intelligence Services Complaints Board,
Kenya National Security Council, National Security Co-ordinator Senate, House of Representatives
US President, National Security Council, Director National Intelligence, Secretary of Defence, Secretary of State Select Committee on Intelligence of Senate, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives, Inspector General responsible for investigating conduct of agencies, officers

The National Security Council, established by Article 83 (1) of the 1992 Constitution as the highest decision making body in terms of the overall management and administration of national security has membership as;

President who shall be chairman and in his absence vice-president

Vice President

Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Defence, Interior, Finance and any other ministers as the president may determine

Chief of Defence Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces and two other members of the armed forces

Inspector General of Police, Commissioner/CID (now Director-General/CID) and one other member of the police service


Director External Intelligence(Research Department)

Director Internal Intelligence (Bureau of National Investigation)

Director Military Intelligence (Department of Defence Intelligence, GAF).

Commissioner, Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (GRA-Customs Division)

Three other members appointed by the President.

Article 84 states the functions of the National Security Council as;

(a) Consider and take appropriate measures to safeguard the internal and external security of Ghana.

(b) Ensure the collection of information relating to the security of Ghana and the integration of the domestic, foreign and security policies relating to it so as to enable the security services and other departments and agencies of state co-operate more effectively in matters relating to national security.

(c) Assessing and appraising the objectives, commitment and risks of Ghana in relation to the actual and potential military power in the interest of national security.

(d) Taking appropriate measures regarding the consideration of policies on matters of common interest to the departments and agencies concerned with national security.

To carry out this function, it requires intelligence to inform its decision. There exist a secretariat, professionally administered to service the council and to co-ordinate security and intelligence activities that will ensure the execution of this critical constitutional mandate of the National Security Council.

Ministry of National Security

The ministry of National Security created by Executive Instrument (2017), exists to initiate and formulate policies, co-ordinate and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the performance of the security and Intelligence sector and also to report to parliament in respect of the intelligence agencies.(Please see 2018 Budget, Ministry of National Security, PBB 2018).The ministry also exists to ensure accountability of the intelligence agencies to the people.(Please see vetting of ministerial nominee for national security, parliament appointments committee,

In the past, the interior minister, a member of the National Security Council is assigned the responsibility of political representation of the intelligence services in parliament, in particular to report annually to parliament on the activities of the Intelligence services. This arrangement which is backed by section 17(2) of the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act 1996 (Act 526)enjoins the President to assign ministerial responsibility to such minister as he deems appropriate who shall report annually to parliament on the activities of the intelligence services.

Under this arrangement, the Minister plays a political role by appearing before parliament in respect of the intelligence agencies (RD and BNI) while the intelligence services through the National Security Co-ordinator report directly to the president.

The minister is however abreast with details (not professional operational details) of activities of the intelligence services since all intelligence related matters are considered at National Security Council of which he is a member.

This has however, not been the situation in all cases since the enactment of the law as in some cases there's appointed a substantive minister for national security as the case is now. While some have been of the view that the initial precedent where a member of the National Security Council, the interior minister, is given that role of reporting to parliament on behalf of the intelligence agencies be continued, others are of the view that a substantive minister for national security is desirable. It is further argued that in the wake of increasing demand for accountability of the intelligence services, the need for better co-ordination of the other ministries and agencies concerned with national security and also the formulation of national security policies a substantive minister for national security is desirable.

Others have also questioned the basis for assigning External Intelligence as well as Military Intelligence responsibility to the interior (see arguments advanced in respect of this arrangement is that, taking into consideration the broad nature of the interior ministry and the need to pay special attention to security and Intelligence co-ordination, it is only appropriate to appoint a substantive minister or to elevate the National Security Co- ordinator to cabinet status and to make it possible for him to appear before parliament in respect of the intelligence agencies like in the case Director National Intelligence of the United States of America.

In either case, it stands to reason that the demand by citizens for more accountability from government is growing and the executive has no option than to ensure they are accountable to the people from whom all powers emanate. What has become a matter of media reportage is the reporting relationship of the National Security Co-ordinator (reports directly to the president)vis- à-vis the minister for national security with concerns over excessive bureaucratization of intelligence and efficient intelligence service delivery if there is no proper synchronization.(See Herald newspaper, 5/2/2018, 7/2/2018, 4/4/2018).

In the last instance where a substantive minister for national security was appointed, that official, Mr. Francis Poku, a former career police officer and senior intelligence officer of then Special Branch (now BNI) was also the substantive national security co-ordinator.

There has also been concerns about constitutionality of the appointment of regional security co- ordinator ( and also the appointment of political party members as frontline “ national security operatives “In my view, the issue is not about legality of appointment of officers designated as “regional security co-ordinator” since those officers form part of the staff of the office of National Security Co-ordinator whose appointments are pursuant to section 20 (1) just that they operate at the regional level. What is of concern is about the role these officers play at the regional levels and how they fit into the national security framework and also the appointment of so many frontline operatives who undertake physical security operations that should normally be performed by the military and police. Indeed there have been concerns about the engagement by successive governments of security operatives perceived to be “political regime operatives” and their subsequent dismissals when there is change of government.

For instance in 2009, it was reported that some 88 security operatives appointed in 2001 were dismissed and also 525 operatives dismissed in 2017 (See 17/3/2016, andghanaweb-22/2/17,).

In the era of emerging threats to global peace and security, it is increasingly becoming evident that having operated the national intelligence law since its enactment, there is the need for security sector reforms to conform to international best practices and to position the security agencies to cope with demands of current trends in national security management.

The National Security Council Secretariat/National Security Co-ordinator

Intelligence co-ordination is an important aspect of national security management which as evolved over time. In Nigeria, the National Security Agencies Act, 1986 (No.19) provides for the appointment of Co-ordinator for National Security while in Kenya, the Cabinet Secretary for Intelligence who is the Chairman of the Intelligence Service Council exercises this function. In the US, this function used to be exercised by the Director Central Intelligence who is the Director/Central Intelligence Agency with additional responsibility for co-ordinating the various elements of the intelligence community. With the passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act in 2004, this function is now exercised by a newly established office of Director National Intelligence who is the principal advisor to the president, national Security Council and senior military commanders/government officials dealing with US national security. The DNI is cabinet level official who appears before senate and congress on intelligence and national security matters.

In Ghana, this function has been exercised under different portfolios since independence including national security advisor, commissioner for foreign affairs etc (please see Bentum Quantson (2006) Ghana: National Security -The Dilemma. Pp 169).The Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, 1996 (Act 526), first ever law regulating activities of intelligence and national security provides for a National Security Co-ordinator responsible intelligence and national security co-ordination. The National Security Council secretariat (NSCS) is the Office of the National Security Co-ordinator and the center of national intelligence. It is the co- ordination centre for security and intelligence and the organ on which the machinery of national security runs. It collates, evaluates and disseminates intelligence received from the intelligence services to the president and National Security Council for policy making.(see 2018

Budget, Ministry of National Security PBB, 2018,

The National Security Co-ordinator appointed under section 18 of Act526, is the professional administrator and professional head of the intelligence community, serving as principal advisor to the president, National Security Council, and senior government officials involved in national security management. Section 19 of Act 526 spells out his functions as;

(a) co-ordinate on a day- to-day basis the activities of the national, regional and district councils and the activities of the Intelligence agencies,

(b)collate and evaluate the intelligence reports relating to national security and ensure dissemination of the information within the government as appropriate,

(c) determine in consultation with the Director of the Intelligence Agencies the manpower level requirements of the Intelligence Agencies.

(d) assist the relevant Intelligence Agency to gather defense intelligence both internal and external and use it to detect and prevent threats to the security of the state; and

(e) perform such other functions relating to the functions specified in the section as the president or the Council may direct.

He also co-ordinates activities of the security agencies so that intelligence can be effectively and efficiently utilized in a timely manner. The occupant of this office is a person with extensive intelligence background and knowledge in intelligence operations. Due to the professional nature of the role, past officers who have occupied this critical office include former civilian intelligence professionals as well as former military officers with intelligence background.

Notable among them include Mr. Ben Forjoe, Naval Captain Baffour Asaase Gyimah, Colonel Jeff Asmah, Mr. Kofi Bentum Quantson, Mr. Francis Poku, Dr. Sam Amo, Lieutenant Colonel Gbevlo Lartey and Mr. Yaw Donkor. The current National Security Co-ordinator is Mr. Joshuah Kyeremeh, a former Director BNI.The National Security Council Secretariat, also known as “blue gate” is not a security agency as wrongly perceived.

It is however staffed with competent personnel with varied expertise, some on secondment from the established national security intelligence and other security agencies such RD, BNI, Department of Defence Intelligence of the Ghana Armed Forces, Police and also analysts or subject matter specialists who are appointed pursuant to section 20 of Act 526.This form the human resource base for the office of the Co-ordinator. Perhaps these perceptions are because of the notoriety it has gained for heavy handedness including arrests, investigations and physical security operations its personnel carry out. Indeed, it is seen more as an operational organ rather than a national intelligence centre since it is deeply involved in enforcement actions.

However, I also agree with many that high level co-ordination of all security agencies is very vital for harmony and provides the common platform for joint and co-ordinated action in areas of national need hence the operational functions it undertakes. It must however not be seen to be duplicating the functions of the established intelligence and security agencies but focus on its primary mandate of co-ordinating and disseminating the needed security intelligence to the agencies to act on.(Please see functions of the secretariat ,Budget 2018,Ministry of National Security, PBB 2018).


This position has also become part of our system particularly in this fourth republic and this official is appointed by the president without recourse to parliament or laid legal procedure unlike in the case of the National Security Co-ordinator whose appointment is subject to the approval of the public services commission. It is however a powerful position in that the advisor serves as senior presidential advisor on security matters operating in the office of the president. Former National Security Advisors include Lieutenant General Joshua Hamidu (rtd), Brigadier General Joseph Nunoo Mensah (rtd), Mr. William Akwasi Aboah, Baba Kamara. Current National Security Advisor is Brigadier General Emmanuel Okyere (rtd).


An important feature of the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act is the provision for management of security at the regional and district levels. This is in recognition of the fact that when proper structures are put in place, certain security concerns at the regional and district levels can be addressed without national level intervention. It is also the case that the various regions have their distinct local threats such that [unlike] in the Western region where there are security concerns about illegal mining activities, the northern region is battling with mainly chieftaincy disputes. These localized threats if not adequately managed can transform into internal security threats for the nation hence the need to tackle them at the local levels. Take the case of the inter-ethnic war in 1994-1995 between Kokombas and Dagombas which later escalated to include Nanumbas and Gonjas. The war engulfed entire Dagbon, Kokomba communities, Gonja and Nanumba areas (N/R Inter-NGO Consortium, Third Progress, 1995). This particular war presented enormous internal security and potential external security challenge to the country for four reasons;

(a) loss of lives estimated at 2000, destruction of estimated 441 villages and displacement of several thousands of people

(b) adversely affected food security since these areas are noted for food production (cereals, tubers, livestock etc).

(c) high expenditure incurred by the state on security operations

(d) heavy deployment and concentration of military and police, resources etc which tended to affect the capability of the military in defending the nation externally in terms in terms available manpower. Aside this, the decentralized security arrangement structures, breaks bureaucratic barriers to management of security in that the regional and district administrations are able to deal swiftly with any matter of security concern.


Section 5 of Act 526 established REGSECs and DISECs as regional and district security management bodies respectively. Membership of REGSECs and DISECs include the regional and district commanders of security agencies respectively with their respective political heads- regional minister and district chief executive as chairpersons (see sections 6(1) and 8(1).The REGSECs operate under the direction of the National Security Council/NSC and are

charged to provide early warning signal to the NSC of the existence or likelihood of security

threats to the region or country as well carry out assignments directed by the NSC while the DISECs report to REGSECs and provide early warning signal to REGSEC about the security situation in the district. (See sections 7 and 9).


The US CIA considers intelligence as ‘knowledge and foreknowledge of the world around us-the prelude to presidential decision and action’ (Central Intelligence Agency.1991. Fact book on Intelligence).The challenge of actually gathering, assessing, analyzing and delivering sound results (intelligence) in a timely manner needed for decision making is a difficult task and an intricate matter for which I will not delve into the operational strategies employed to achieve this objective. The intelligence agencies particularly the BNI continue to be subject of public criticisms for alleged inability to provide timely intelligence needed for pre-emptive measures to deal with some recorded security challenges in the country and also for alleged violations of human rights, with some calling for its disbandment. Indeed, it is a truism that law enforcement sometimes proceeds against human rights unjustifiably but the subject of intelligence failure needs further examination. I recall a debate organized by Joy Fm station on the proposition for disbandment of the BNI in the wake of some security challenges, human rights violations etc.. ( is worth noting that the said debate though not a national referendum, provided government and in particular the BNI, the opportunity for public assessment of its activities for which useful lessons can be learnt. It is however re-assuring that the conclusion at the end of the debate was for the continuation in existence of the BNI.

The subject of “intelligence failure" therefore needs careful examination and should be measured against policy making since these two are fundamental in securing national security. Often times, in the public domain, we hear of intelligence failure and hardly hear of policy failure. If national security is managed well credit goes to political leaders and government of the day but if national security breaches occur it is blamed on “intelligence failure" and the intelligence services are lambasted. National security is a function of intelligence and policy.

Consider the following national security relationships;

National Security= Intelligence + Policy.

Clearly, to achieve national security (dependent variable), you need to get your independent variables (intelligence and policy) correct. Intelligence is produced by the intelligence services while policy is produced by policy makers (political leadership and top government officials).

Sound Intelligence + Poor Policy = National Insecurity

Poor Intelligence + Poor Policy = National Bomb

No Intelligence + No Policy = National Disaster

The intelligence agencies advice government on emerging threats to the internal and external security of Ghana by providing early warning signals so that appropriate pre-emptive measures are taken to address the threat. The decision or policy option is that of government and therefore if for one reason or the other the unfortunate happens, the way forward is not basterdization and disbandment of agencies. Of course citizens have the absolute right to be concerned about the effectiveness of state institutions established and maintained by the state to protect them and to demand for more protection if their safety and well-being is threatened.

While doing this, our criticisms must be towards improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the services these institutions render. Should the intelligence services publish list of all potential conflicts, armed robberies, subversion, sabotage, etc that intelligence provided by it was efficiently employed to foil?. Or should the intelligence services publish list of international transactions, agreements or co- operation that intelligence provided by it has helped in guiding government in securing maximum benefits? We must in fact appreciate that not everything about security comes to the public domain. Indeed the caution by then Director Awelinga (see that the nation will be plunged into chaos within one month should the BNI be scrapped in my view is even an understatement.

The results of BNI's vigilance and high alertness is the relative peace, security and stability that Ghana prides itself with, it is the result of the freedom and democratic environment that allows us to write, publish or even sit on TV/radio to express our views including criticizing and calling for its disbandment.

Public perception continue to reign high about alleged “inefficiency” of the Intelligence services because of recorded security problems in the country but indeed for every recorded incident there are so many of them thwarted by the intelligence system details of which are often kept away from public view and knowledge in order not to compromise the sources or professional operational techniques employed. Method, source, agent and informant protection is the hallmark of every efficient intelligence organization.

Despite this, public opinion will judge the system not by their unannounced successes but by their well reported “intelligence failures" and these “failures” have been in plenty not only in Ghana but in other countries like US, UK, France, Israel just to mention a few despite their far better organizational, financial resources and technical and technological capabilities. Examples of these “intelligence failures” including September, 2001 bombing of the US world trade center that claimed over 5000 lives, September, 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya that killed 67 people including our own Professor Kofi Awoonor, former Chairman of the Council of State, March, 2016 Grand-Bassam shooting incidence in Ivory Coast which claimed 22 lives and sabotage activities by Haram insurgency in Nigeria among others.

As a matter of fact, following the September 2001 terrorist attack upon the US and the subsequent discussions on the development including congressional debates, the Commission of enquiry constituted to investigate the incidence did not recommend disbandment of the FBI and CIA who are responsible for Domestic and Foreign Intelligence respectively. The Commission established that the FBI and CIA failed to share intelligence about the impending attack and therefore recommended legal and institutional reforms that will ensure high level co-ordination of the intelligence community.

Former Director BNI and former National Security Co-ordinator, Mr. Kofi Bentum Quantson, in his book; Ghana: Peace and Stability-Chapters from the Intelligence Sector, laments how intelligence about the impending overthrow of the Kwame Nkrumah government was handled and eventually the coup occurred. Also, in his book; Ghana: National Security-The Dilemma, he recounts how a well-prepared intelligence report warning the K.A Busia government about subversive activities of some senior military officers, in particular Col. I.K Acheampong was treated shabbily. The intelligence expert catalogued a number of reasons why well-reasoned intelligence produced by the intelligence services is not treated with the seriousness it deserves notable among them extreme political partisanship and tribalism which according to him overrode the national interest in the appreciation of intelligence (Bentum Quantson (2003), Ghana: National Security- The Dilemma. Pp 50-57).

According to the security expert, the coup of 1966 occurred because intelligence from the Special Branch did not reach the president because at the time, the Director Special Branch reported to the IGP and therefore intelligence about movements of dissident troops was suppressed by the IGP who was one of the key plotters of the coup (See Bentum Quantson (2016) Security in the Hand of God. pp 82,108, Bentum Quantson (2006).Ghana: National Security-The Dilemma. Pp 66-67).

Richard Betts in his article “Analysis, War, and Decision: Why Intelligence Failures are Inevitable” (pp 61-64)argues that “failures in intelligence are not only inevitable but even natural because the failure is primarily as a result of politics and psychology rather than analysis and organization”. Betts places intelligence failures squarely on the shoulders of decision makers, noting that “the most crucial mistakes have seldom been made by collectors of raw information, occasionally by professionals who produce finished analyses but most often by decision makers who consume the products of intelligence services” and categorized such failures into three/3-

(a) Failure in perspective- inability to measure ratio of intelligence success to failure which is as a result of ignorance of the whole picture where; we lose sight of the many daily successes and instead focus on the lone failure,

(b) Pathologies in communication- due to gaps in the procedures of transmitting intelligence analysis to policy makers as well as the struggle to convince policy makers of the importance of that particular intelligence at hand

(c) Paradox of perception-most crucial and most difficult to address which is that preconceived notions held by either analysts or policy makers impede them from accurately assessing a situation.

He contends that “even if the intelligence process can be perfected, the consumption of intelligence will never be perfected due to psychological limitations and influencing political factors”. The relationship between intelligence analysis and policy making is further explored in an article by Stephen Marrin, “The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks: A failure of Policy Not Strategic Intelligence Analysis” (pp 182-183). Marrin seeks to debunk the assumption that intelligence analysis influences decision making and serves as the foundation for policy making. He argues, “The reason decision makers frequently ignore intelligence analysis is because intelligence analysis is never the sole foundation for decisions, but rather duplicates the analysis and assessment conducted by the decision-makers themselves who are usually well aware of both the details and strategic importance of the issues under consideration”


The national intelligence agencies have done very well under the fourth Republic to maintain peace, security and stability of Ghana. No organization is static and intelligence services around the world keep adjusting in response to new threats to national security and Ghana's intelligence services cannot be left out. The national intelligence agencies themselves, alone, however strong and capable may not be able to deal with all the security challenges of the nation, some transnational in nature; hence the need for networking of the entire national security system and government agencies concerned with national security so as to counter threats to the security of the State.

The emerging security challenges globally particularly terrorism, drug trafficking, cybercrime, money laundering and climate change require a revamped national security intelligence apparatus with re-enforced co-operation mechanisms both domestically and internationally. The intelligence agencies and by extension all national security agencies must be supported to pursue this agenda of protecting and defending the sovereignty and integrity of our beloved country.

The politicization of such sensitive institutions as the intelligence services defeats the purpose of their establishment and has the tendency to render them impotent, incapable of protecting the nation and therefore all citizens must support the agencies to execute their constitutional mandates independently.

We must as patriotic citizens accept criminal conduct of persons as it is and not that of political persecution, witch hunting or political vendetta as we see these days when actions are being taken by the intelligence or security agencies against persons or group of persons whose activities pose threat to national security .It is questionable that when in opposition, members of political parties make allegations of witch hunting, victimization and harassment by intelligence services particularly the BNI and that these agencies are being manipulated by the government of the day to serve their political interests. Does it mean when in power that is what the intelligence services are used for? For political activities rather than protecting the nation and its citizens? They basterdize these agencies and draw them into unhealthy politics and when they come into power the table turns.

The mandate of the intelligence services is to protect national security. Let us be minded that the nation’s democracy stand to suffer a serious setback should the security system, particularly the intelligence sector on which the entire machinery of national security runs be drawn into unhealthy, unproductive, selfish and parochial political agenda. It is re-assuring the statement by then Director Awelinga in 2016 that the Bureau is not under political influence ( His Excellency, President Akuffo Addo, in 2012, prior to ascending to the high Office of President and Commander in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces raised serious concerns about the politicization of the security agencies and expressed his commitment to improving the professionalism of the security agencies.(see

15/11/2012). Also, the New Patriotic Party in 2016, outlining its plans for the security sector themed “Creating Prosperity and Equal Opportunity for All: Resourcing and Motivating Our Security Services for Secure, Safe Communities", indicated its commitment to review and restructure recruitment in the security services to stamp out fraud and cronyism.( See

This clearly demonstrates that there is real or perceived political interference in the recruitment processes and operations of the security agencies and therefore commendable, the high commitment expressed by this government to address the canker. It is therefore incumbent on all well-meaning patriotic and loyal citizens to support President Akuffo Addo and government of the day in achieving this critical objective of depoliticizing and professionalizing the security agencies for enhanced national security, protection and defence of the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Ghana.

The intelligence services must continue to discharge their lawful duties unimpeded, and uninfluenced and also strive to maintain high level of institutional credibility and professional integrity by continuing to recruit, train, retrain and retain highly committed, patriotic and loyal officers and men who will put the national interest first, carry out their functions devoid of political considerations and help consolidate the gains made so far.

An improved efficient and effective national intelligence network with modern efficient and effective methods and strategies needed for intelligence collection will enable the intelligence services execute their constitutional mandate of protecting and defending the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Ghana. By so doing, there will be enhanced public confidence, trust and support for the intelligence agencies.

Political administrators who are the final consumers of intelligence must treat matters of intelligence relating to national security appropriately so as to meet the collective will and aspirations of the people for whom they serve. The security of the State must not under any circumstance be allowed to be compromised by any person or group of persons be it politicians, media civil society groups, political party affiliates or pressure groups to satisfy their parochial and selfish political desires.


National Security Education Policy

(i) Government should consider a national security education policy to sensitize the citizenry at all levels on matters pertaining to national security and development since in my view an uneducated population itself can constitute threat to the peace and stability of the nation. There should be conscious efforts to sensitize the citizenry about peace, security and development and how they can contribute to the process. I am also proposing the establishment of an Institute for National Security Education in collaboration with the public universities to complement efforts of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in expanding access to security education in Ghana. Affordable short courses, certificates, diploma and higher programmes should be offered in peace studies, national security and development, public safety and security to persons at all levels so as to improve security literacy in Ghana.

(ii) There is also the urgent need to consider incorporating into the educational curricula from the kindergarten level to tertiary level, patriotism, loyalty and anti-corruption studies since these values are gradually eroding in the moral fabric of the youth who are future leaders of this country.

National Security and Basic Intelligence Training for the Uniformed Security Agencies

(i) This is an area I believe if taken seriously will help improve the nation's intelligence capability. In developed jurisdictions like US, UK, France etc, personnel of the military, police and paramilitary services have training in basic intelligence gathering and this makes them alert at all times and at all places but same cannot be said about most of our uniformed personnel, particularly at the lower levels who mostly interact with the public and can help significantly in our intelligence collection efforts. It is ironic that the police often call on the public to volunteer information or to assist in its criminal intelligence process when most of its personnel are not properly trained to handle the little information provided by the public. It is not uncommon to hear some members of the security agencies discuss sensitive security matters at public places without any regard for secrecy of information, source, method and informant identity protection.

The national Security Council should consider incorporating national security and basic intelligence training into the training curricula of the police, prisons, immigration etc so as to help improve the security consciousness of personnel, enhance intelligence collection and protection of classified security information.

Increased Criminal Intelligence

(i) The nation needs to step up its efforts in the fight against cybercrime, economic, financial, robbery, assassinations, murder crimes and also the fight against corruption. The recent reports of financial crimes, fraud has serious national security implications. The findings by the Political Science Department, University of Ghana that puts corruption perception of the public at about 90% is a matter of grave concern also. The government’s establishment of the Office of Special Prosecutor is in recognition of the national security implications of the canker.

(ii)The office together with existing anti-corruption agencies such as the auditor general etc must be adequately resourced, strengthened and supported to execute their mandate.

(iii) In the wake of increasing rate of crimes in the country; murder, assassinations, robbery, cybercrimes, fraud etc there is the need to dedicate special departments in the Police Criminal Investigation Department and EOCO to focus on gathering criminal intelligence. Its personnel should receive adequate training in intelligence gathering and should move away from the usual policing and investigations carried out by investigators which exposes their identities and cover. They should infiltrate criminal gangs and gather vital criminal intelligence for enforcement actions. The current trend where it appears CID personnel only receive complaints and then move in to investigate is not proactive policing.

At the end what sense does it make for example to successfully prosecute murder cases when lives lost cannot be replaced. In view of the fact that the BNI is preoccupied with crimes of national security dimensions and more particularly since the police ordinarily deals with these crimes, the Police Professional Standards and Intelligence Bureau (PIPS) should be transformed into an effective criminal intelligence unit with highly skilled, educated and trained personnel operating as criminal intelligence operatives and not investigators. A different unit should deal with professional standards or personnel conduct. EOCO should also train and deploy personnel to intelligence officers to collect intelligence to enable it execute its mandate effectively rather than focusing on complaints investigations.

Review of Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, 1996 (Act 526).

In the proposed review of the law, it is recommended as follows:

(i) Provision be made for the appointment of a regional representative of the national security co- ordinator that's “regional security liaison officer “or “regional security co-ordinator “position as is already been used should be formalized. The law should spell out his functions and like the national security co-ordinator, should be a person with extensive experience and should serve executive assistant to the regional minister as well as secretary to REGSEC responsible for compiling, collating and co-ordinating activities of REGSEC and DISECs on behalf of the Regional minister and the REGSEC. He must however not be given any authority over the regional intelligence directors or security agencies.

(ii) The revised act should consider making provision for representation of military intelligence on REGSEC. Intelligence activity at the regional level needs to be intensified especially around the borders. The recent intrusion by Togolese soldiers on Ghanaian territory around the Jasikan area raises serious concerns about border security.

(iii) The NSCS must be developed into highly specialized professional centre for national intelligence for both operational and strategic planning in response to emerging security threats rather than an operational organ of government. Comprehensive guidelines for appointment of officers to the secretariat should be spelt out. The situation where frontline operatives, mostly political party affiliates are recruited directly and subsequently dismissed when there is change of government must be discouraged. If this practice continues, we will be building gradually, a corps of trained political regime security operatives which in my view poses security risk for Ghana if they are not properly controlled. In 2009, it was reported that 100“political operatives” recruited by then government were agitated over non-placement for duties after undergoing training in security operations (ghanaweb-9/12/2014).

Eighty-eight /88 security operatives were reportedly dismissed in 2009 and 525 dismissed in 2017 for perceived political reasons (ghanaweb-22/2/2017,,citifmonline-17/3/2016).

Mr. Bentum Quantson notes in Ghana: Peace and Stability-Chapters from the Intelligence Sector.pp50 that such practices where personnel are dismissal for political reasons can create “fertile base for recruitment of politically displaced persons for subversive purpose". In our current situation, it does appear that such “security operatives” have the basic understanding that they will lose their jobs when the government that employed them loses power and so there is usually no qualms about that. However, let’s lose guard. Personnel of the established agencies have the capability of carrying out any physical security function required by the NSCS like VVIP protection among others. The NSCS should employ only highly skilled specialists and professionals in security and intelligence or other areas of need and should not be seen exercising directly, investigative/enforcement powers as has been the norm for some time now. There should be joint operations centre where security agencies supply men for joint operations.

(iv) Finally, in view of the increasing national security threat posed by financial and economic crimes, the Economic and Organized Crime Office and the Financial Intelligence Centre should be re-structured into professional economic intelligence and financial intelligence organizations respectively and moved to the Ministry of National Security.

The restructured Economic and Financial Intelligence agencies should operate as professional intelligence services modeled around the Bureau of National Investigation operations and placed directly under the National Security Co-ordinator. This will ensure that intelligence on these threats is brought to the attention of the National Security Council and government timely for appropriate action.

Parliamentary Oversight

The parliamentary select committee on Defense and Interior should be re-designated “Select Committee on Security and Intelligence” and strengthened to provide the necessary democratic oversight over the security sector. Members of the committee must be carefully selected, vetted and given the necessary training so as to enable it effectively play this oversight role. They must be able to live above partisanship and put the national interest first. rules of confidentiality must be its hallmark so as to gain the trust of the intelligence agencies who most often as a result of mistrust are not willing to divulge sensitive information to parliament. Together, let us help build a better and prosperous Ghana.

The writer is an Observer on National Security Affairs and Student of Security and Intelligence. Email:[email protected]


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