Opinions Sun, 5 Jun 2011

Fallout from the Seizure of “Atta Mortuary Man”

: How Secure is our Country?

Our national security organisation, like all the others the world-over are set up to coordinate the activities of the various security agencies of the country to assure the citizenry of the nation’s security at all times. Principal amongst a host of its responsibilities is to ensure that the territorial integrity of Ghana is not breached by forces from within or without. By neutralising both domestic and foreign forces that may pose a threat to the security of the nation, the sovereignty of the country is then protected. The tools for the National Security to achieve that end are the police, military, navy, customs etc. It is also the responsibility of the National Security to ensure that these agencies function efficiently at all times and are positioned to deliver on their constitutional responsibilities. It goes to without saying therefore that a dysfunctional National Security will have a snowballing effect on the performances of all other affiliated agencies.

It is therefore true to say that, when a National Security loses its focus and malfunctions, ordinary citizen bears the brunt of the ensuing chaos and confusion. What is unfolding before the eyes of Ghanaians is the unholy union of BNI and the National Security and the resultant terror the 2 institutions have been putting the ordinary Ghanaian through. Over the past two years, we have observed the National Security Coordinator, Gbevlo Lartey leading his team to seize cars and pull down buildings in Accra. We have also gone throw the experience of a radio DJ popularly called High Priest snatched from the studios of a local radio station for passing a disparaging remark about President Mills. The ludicrous seizure of dogs by some personnel from the National Security in the house of the editor of “Gye Nyame Concord” was even more incongruous with the perimeters within which they operate. This is the same National Security and BNI who invited Herbert Mensah over the alleged sixty million dollar campaign tape but rather cowardly chickened out of inviting former President Rawlings but instead meekly asked journalists to interview the latter. The litany of absurdities the National Securities have been involved in recent time is endless but the recent seizure of “Atta Mortuary Man”, a movie censored by the appropriate body and which was due to be premiered on Monday, 30th of May was even more pathetic. So far, attempts by some ministers including Baba Jamal and a few others to explain away the saga have made it even murkier. I personally don’t know if the seizure was due to the innocuous captioning of the movie as “Atta Mortuary Man”. I quite remember clearly that when former President Rawlings told his story about his friend called “Atta Mortuary Man” the NDC vehemently denied the story was about President Mills; so why this panic reaction from the National Security? With the seizure of the movie though, the National Security have inadvertently confirmed that Rawlings was after all being satirical about President Mills as most media houses then proclaimed. If the “Atta Mortuary Man” comment posed a threat to the security of the state, why then was Rawlings not invited by the National Security? Has the National Security only just realised that the comment posed a security threat to nation after the producer has captioned his movie as such?

So much about the “asomdwee hene” postulations of the President; but is it really true? Sometimes, the behaviour of the BNI and National Security make you wonder if we are not living in a constitutional dictatorship as pertains in Zimbabwe. Whenever one makes a comment about the president they either get an “invitation” from the BNI to be interrogated or you will have operatives of the National Security swooping on them. The two agencies are making themselves nuisance and the earlier the President whip them into position the better. They are getting involved in so many silly issues so much so that someone could record a meeting at the castle right under their big noses and yet they wouldn’t see that. When Rawlings made his infamous “Ataa Ayi” comment against President Kuffuor some few years back, a film procedure came out with a movie captioned “Ataa Ayi” but the National Security then did not blink and that movie went quickly into oblivion. I don’t even know if people know today that such a film existed. That’s how you treat issues like that. In other democracies, sitting presidents are satirised everyday either in cartoons, articles and many other ways. Why can’t our National Security tolerate it in Ghana? Or is the President riled and getting the jitters already? The pathetic excuse that the producer has some questions to answer on taxes is even “whimsical and capricious”; to borrow the phrase of the Minority Leader. If indeed the producer has questions to answer about tax payments, why wouldn’t the Inland Revenue deal with it other than the National Security? Even still, do the relevant bodies have to wait until the producer decides to come out with another movie before National Security swoop to arrest him? Now though until the movie is destroyed by the National Security, it is going to sell like hot cake due to the publicity they have unwittingly given it.

On a more serious note, with the way the national security apparatus is getting involved with dogs and now movies and taxes, can Ghanaians rest assured that the country is safe and secure from both domestic and foreign interference? I’m even more concerned that somebody was able to record a meeting at the castle, the seat of government and before the blood-shot eyes of the ubiquitous National Security and yet they couldn’t even see it. How secure are our borders if the National Security is now so much involved in censoring movies and advising producers on how to caption their movies? These and many other pertinent questions need answering and Nunoo Mensah and Gbevlo Lartey better get ready. As things stand now, some of us aren’t that sure of Ghana’s security.

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi