The Minister-designate of the Interior, Mr Prosper Douglas Kweku Bani, was Thursday taken through 204 minutes of grilling, during which he pledged to engage with the legislature on the provision of security for the members.
Responding to a concern raised by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA), Dr Stephen Nana Ato Arthur, on the spate of individual killings in recent times, he said: “I share the same worries with you but what I will say is that we need to work together. Let me share an observation I have made for MPs to know that even as I sit here I am concerned about their security.”
“I have driven into this house or this compound several times. On no occasion has anyone stopped my vehicle, checked my vehicle and asked me where I am going to. I think that if given the opportunity to serve, one of the first actions I would take is to work with leadership to secure Parliament House.”
He also indicated that although the police size had increased to about 32,000, the ideal police size should be 40,000. “We need to focus on prevention to ensure that the risk to our citizens is reduced to the minimum. We need to work together to ensure there is speed in resolving unresolved murders,” he stressed.
As if to say that security was of paramount interest to Ghanaians, members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament took turns to question the President’s nominee and the immediate past Chief of Staff, Mr Bani, on a wide range of issues including the state of the country’s prisons, the handicap of the Ghana National Fire Service and the murder of the Member of Parliament for Abuakwa North, Mr Joseph Boakye Danquah-Adu, last Monday.
Other issues raised during the vetting were the Fulani herdsmen menace, the use of the VVIP lounge area of the Kotoka International Airport by Naa Ayerley to smuggle out 12.5kg worth of narcotics, ethnocentric comments on the airwaves and how they could endanger the peace, the acceptance of ex-detainees from Guantanamo, the proliferation of small arms and the activities of a Muslim cleric in Ghana who had been banned by some countries among many other issues.
In his response to the issue of narcotics, Mr Bani declined to comment and said the issue had gone through the judicial process and the necessary steps had been taken to tighten security at the VVIP where it was alleged Naa Ayerley passed.
He also stated that investigations were still ongoing and added, however, that the fight against narcotic drugs needed to be heightened.
Answering a question on the acceptance of the ex-Guantanamo detainees by the Ghana government, the Interior Minister designate said they were not a security threat to Ghanaians and added that the risk involved might be reduced to very low levels.
He, however, assured that he would seek to work with the IGP and his deputies on the issue when given the nod
Touching on the proliferation of small arms which could compromise the election this year, Mr Bani said although it was scary that there were about 2.3 million illicit weapons in people’s hands, there were consistent efforts by the security services to reduce small arms and generally control them.
He stated that one of the ways to deal with the issue was to tighten up security at borders, using the resources that had been provided for marking of security weapons and the ones owned by individuals. He said he would work with stakeholders on locally produced weapons which were also a worry, so that the threat to citizens would reduce.
On the strategies he would adopt to stem the tide on political vigilantism, Mr Bani said the police were working on it and were in consultations with political parties. “My sense is that we must respect the law. If they are security groups then they must register and pay taxes,” he said.
He also said he would ensure that the Ghana Fire Service was adequately resourced with hydraulic platforms so that they would be able to deal with fires in high-rise buildings in the country.
Eastern Regional Minister designate
When she took her turn, the Eastern Regional Minister designate, Ms Mavis Ama Frimpong, answered questions on illegal mining, the prevalence of HIV and AIDS and tourism in the region.
She said the major challenge in the region was illegal mining referred to as ‘galamsey’.
“The law on mining has some loopholes - operators arrested during swoops and those behind are let off the hook. Arrested culprits are fined just GH¢200 and released and their equipment released to them,” she lamented.
She told the committee that the AIDS prevalence in the region had reduced from 7.9 per cent in 2006 to 3.7 per cent in 2014, which meant that the region was no longer in an epidemic stage.