Let’s not beat about the bush here. I think the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) is desperately claiming credit it doesn’t deserve. It’s all to do with Isreali businessman who was (allegedly) kidnapped by some Nigerian fraudsters.
The Israeli man, named as Dror Weinstein came to Accra to transact some business. According to the story in the ‘Daily Graphic’, Mr. Weinstein had been deceived into thinking that the late finance minister, Kwadjo Baah-Wiredu hid some loot somewhere. He was supposedly approached by a certain lady named as Felicia Baah-Wiredu to come over to Ghana to help the late minister’s family retrieve the hidden booty. For those who know, this is a clear case of 419 fraud. For innocent but greedy people like Mr. Weinstein it’s an opportunity to earn where they have not worked.
Mr. Weinstein fell for the scam, made the long journey to Accra only to be kidnapped by the people who had made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. The kidnappers initially demanded, according to the BNI, a ransom of $500,000 dollars from Mr. Weinstein’s family but they were kind enough to reduce it to $300,000.
The news of the kidnapping must have come as a shock to many Ghanaians, who are not very familiar with the crime of kidnapping. The last time there was any such crime was in June, when – yet again – a bunch of Nigerians reportedly kidnapped a school girl in the Dansoman suburb of Accra. The Ghana News Agency, which originally reported Mr. Weinstein’s kidnapping, said a special “taskforce was working around the clock to free the businessman.”
Then lo and behold, a few days later we were told by the ‘Daily Graphic’ that “Personnel of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) last Wednesday night rescued the Israeli businessman who had been held captive by gunmen in Accra since October 19.”
A day before the publication, however, the BBC and AFP (the French News Agency) had reported that the man had escaped. They didn’t mention any operation by Ghanaian security operatives to free him. The AFP, for example, quoted Israeili public radio as saying that the man simply escaped from his captors, boarded a taxi to a hotel and called up his family in Israel.
So now, I am left with two versions of the same story… and I’m tempted to believe the foreign media’s account. Since the BNI has been known to conduct opinion polls – perhaps, the only intelligence agency in the world which doubles as a polling agency – I would suggest that they hit the streets to sample public views on whether Ghanaians believe their stories or those of the Israeli media.
You see the ‘Graphic’ story just doesn’t add up for me.
For starters, the headline screams “BNI rescues captive” there is no indication of a grand operation to snatch Mr. Dror from his captors.
“Dr Amoo-Ghartey [National Security co-ordinator] said the BNI did everything possible to track the kidnappers and after a lot of efforts, the BNI arrested three of them and used them as a bait to negotiate the release of Dror,” the Graphic reports. “He said Dror was dropped around the Atomic Police Station where he was made to take a taxi to the Golden Tulip Hotel in Accra to be received by officials of the BNI.”
That doesn’t sound like a rescue operation, does it? Why will Mr. Weinstein be “made” to take a taxi from the Atomic Police station and make the long journey to Golden Tulip Hotel? Couldn’t the officials of the BNI have received him anywhere nearer to the Atomic Police Station?
Since the story didn’t add up so much, tongues started wagging. In response, the national security co-ordinator put out a statement that Israel “had expressed gratitude to the Ghanaian security services for the prompt and professional manner in which they rescued an Israeli businessman kidnapped in Accra a few days ago in Accra.”
Great! Our intelligence agency has scored high marks with the Israeli government. Let’s break bread in celebration!
But wait a minute. Wouldn’t it be a better pat on the back for Dr Amo and his men if Ghanaians were also given a reason to congratulate the BNI for some job well done?
I have no doubt in my mind that if the BNI went out of its way to bring a few notable criminals to justice. For example, they can use whatever little intelligence they have to bring all those bastards who have been causing trouble in Bawku and Yendi to justice. How about tracing the 77 parcels of cocaine? I know those missing (kidnapped) parcels don’t have any relatives to call and there is no ransom on their heads. But many Ghanaians are yearning to know how those parcels just vanished into thin air – just like that!
We also want to know who killed the deputy managing director of the Ghana Commercial Bank in Tema. The BNI can use its professionalism (which the Israelis so commend) to bring his murderers to justice. And whiles they are at it, we also need to know who killed the Ya Na.
When any of these is done, we will give the BNI and its ‘intelligence’ staff the credit they deserve and they wouldn’t have any reason to claim the ones they don’t deserve.