Interior Ministry absorbs intelligence agencies amid opposition

President John Mahama has given an order for intelligence agencies to be realigned under the Interior Ministry, a move that has not settled well with some Parliamentarians.

A communication from the President to Parliament said Mr Prosper Bani’s Ministry will, with immediate effect, take up oversight responsibility for all intelligence agencies in the country.

The Presidential directive, issued Thursday was addressed to the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho.

“I hereby assign ministerial responsibility for the intelligence agencies [to] the Minister of Interior with immediate effect,” the Speaker read out the order on the floor of the House Thursday.

This will imply that National Security Agency, the Economic and Organized Crimes Office (EOCO) and the Financial Intelligence Center (FIC) will now report to Mr Bani.

Until the directive, EOCO was under the Attorney General’s Department and the FIC, under the Ministry of Finance.

Member of Parliament for Sunyani East, Kwasi Ameyaw Kyeremeh, has warned the directive could compromise the independence of the agencies.

“If you look at the Security and Intelligence Act, the President has the power to name a minister to be in-charge of intelligence and security, so if the President is assigning the responsibility to the Minister of Interior, it means that the National Security Coordinator is answerable to the Minister of Interior,” he said.

Mr Kyeremeh said the directive is likely to muddy existing security protocols.

“It has the potential to create confusion in the system,” said the Sunyani East legislator.

He said he understands the new directive to mean that when any of the intelligence agencies prepares their budget estimates, the Interior Ministry must know and make an input.

“But for security budget, when [the intelligence agencies] are implementing it, they will be reporting to the President,” he said.

He will not read political meaning into the directive that is coming barely five months to the crucial November 7 polls — especially in the absence of a clearly defined reason — but like Mr Kyeremeh, many Ghanaians will be baffled by the Presidential order.