We are in bad times and the signs, according to my crystal ball, point to gloomy days ahead. With people like Larry Gbevlo-Lartey and his BNI at the helm of affairs, as far as the national security outfit is concerned, we are doomed. The country is about to revisit the crazy days of the revolution when human life and dignity were treated with disdain. It looks as if the Mills/Mahama regime has given Gbevlo-Lartey the license to torture and kill. Nobody in this country is safe anymore as the former boss of the dreaded 64 Battalion continues to flex his muscles and lies through his teeth. I shudder to look back and recount what happened to the good people of this country when Rawlings and the Gbevlos of this world took up arms and treated Ghanaians as subhuman beings. Those were the days when we witnessed the horrifying spectacle of sadism offered to the public gaze. I surely remember the bazaar exhibition of ‘soldier power’, the drilling and shaving of suspects with broken bottles and acts of terrorism often explained away in the name of ‘revolutionary justice’. We are back at square one.
My fear would have been allayed if the National Security Coordinator, in the person of Mr. Gbevlo-Lartey, had apologized to the good people of this country in general and lady Gifty Lawson in particular, following the brutality meted out to the poor girl by operatives of the BNI when she was going about her lawful duty to earn a living. Listen to the man who should have been on retirement defending the brutalities: “The BNI is a creature of the law and they will go ahead and do their job as prescribed by law and we are not going to take any indiscipline from any member of the public. It doesn’t matter who he is preventing the BNI from doing their job”. Oh no, Mr. Gbevlo-Lartey, that is not the issue. The BNI operatives rather took the law into their own hands when they manhandled the unarmed lady who was taking pictures at the court premises, which is allowed, anyway. The creatures called BNI were undisciplined and they are those who need to be whipped into line.
If we are to escape the danger of gradually drifting into the wish-to-be-forgotten days of ‘soldier power’, it is necessary to apply the sanctions whenever necessary, instead of leaving things to the temperament of individual BNI operatives who may ultimately do more harm than good through misguided zeal. Are those seven BNI operatives men at all? If it took seven well-armed BNI operatives to arrest an unarmed lady photojournalist, then I wonder what they can do when faced with armed robbers. Indeed, if a BNI operative can threaten to shoot a poor girl like Gifty, then I wonder what such a man will do if he comes face to face with this irrepressible earth Angel Gabriel, the zongo boy who fears no police. But come to think of this, don’t you believe that some seized cocaine might have found its way to the offices of the BNI where these operatives laid their hands on to become ‘high’ like those who manhandled the girl? It is highly possible because what they did was unthinkable. Shame!
If Mr. Gbevlo-Lartey and his cohorts think journalists in this country can be cowed into quietude, then they have to think again. What they did to Gifty has opened a can of worms which will be difficult to close. In fact, what they did has put more ink in our fountain pens and we will show them that the pen is mightier than the sword. In my own small way I will continue to use this column to exhort Ghanaians to rise in protest against this government’s violation of our fundamental human rights.
I will unrepentantly use intemperate language to describe any bully who may treat Ghanaians so shabbily like they did Gifty. And as sure as the sun will shine tomorrow, I will continue this path with strong will. If President Mills who calls himself “Asomdwiehene” fails to whip his men into line and they continue to provoke confrontation, we will call their bluff at the risk of our lives. In fact, we will never hesitate to use the most offensive language to describe their foolishness.
The ‘Gifty case’ will forever remain in our minds till Election Day. We are aware the NDC would try all means to bully Ghanaians in the run-up to the elections but they will never have their way as everybody is now wide awake. What Mr. Lartey and his overzealous scatterbrains should understand is that this time around, the good people of Ghana will not be so docile again for a few undisciplined BNI operatives to step on our rights. Yes of course, they have the guns but we have the will to survive. The time has come for us to remake the BNI. The outfit is loaded with inexperienced NDC supporters who know nothing about security. Can you imagine a situation where operatives of the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) in the US or the MOSSAD of Israel grabbing an unarmed girl and subjecting her to severe beatings and putting their hands inside her panties in search of a suspected hidden camera, simply because she was seen taking pictures of a victim of human rights abuse? These libidinous BNI operatives should bow down their heads in shame. I can bet with my last Kufuor gollar that if they had the chance they would have raped the poor girl.
Accept my sympathy Gifty. Be strong and remember that this is a price you have paid to expose a bunch of criminals parading as BNI operatives. All Ghanaians should see the treatment meted out to Gifty as a national concern. People should stand up to be counted else these goons could repeat the show. Threatening to shoot somebody while directing the gun at the person’s head is enough scare to make one contract a heart attack. It was the vulture who said that when man points a gun at you and even fails to pull the trigger, you lose more than ten years of your life. I can imagine the nightmares that these Daily Guide reporters, who went through the ordeal, are having. For me, Gifty is a symbol of resistance. The day before she was manhandled, family members of the DSP maltreated her at the same place. The girl was so bold that she went again to cover the story despite the risk she faced. This is a sign of a brave journalist. One can compare her to Christina Amanpour of CNN fame.
And if Gbevlo-Lartey and his boys think they have an axe to grind with Gina Blay’s DAILY GUIDE, then they better gird up their loins because the battle will be hotter and they may not even get time to go for supper. The absurdity of the whole drama is that at the end of the day, DAILY GUIDE was able to publish the picture of DSP Gifty Mawuenyega Tehoda on the front page of the paper. Who won the war? Who say man no dey? You don’t screw with DAILY GUIDE, you know! I must admit that there are some fine guys in the BNI who are doing their job with dignity. When a few party boys who were drafted into the system recently began fooling around, I sincerely pitied the good guys out there. The behaviour of the few undisciplined goons in the Gifty saga should be condemned by all peace loving Ghanaians. Today it is Gifty. Who knows, they may one day extend their fists of fury to the noses of our chiefs and men of God.
When then Chairman Rawlings disbanded the Special Branch and replaced it with the Bureau of National Investigation, he did so with good intention but sadly the current crop is destroying the good intention.
Operatives of the BNI who are supposed to be secret agents are making a mess of the institution. The perfect anonymity of a secret agent is totally lost as they continue to expose themselves in the course of their duties. Some of them quickly introduce themselves to even strangers as BNI operatives. Do you think any operative of the KGB will even mention his real name to anyone, not to talk of introducing himself as an operative of that outfit? A secret agent is supposed to be colourless, so ordinary a man you could not pick him out of a crowd. Indeed a secret agent operates in a world where he is the man who is a mystery to all but himself. Not so with Gbevlo-Lartey’s BNI who do not hesitate to pull a pistol at the slightest provocation and put their hands inside the panties of girls to retrieve cameras. What a gargantuan mess! (Apologies to Martin Amidu)
From Eric Bawah