Ghana: ‘Bugging’ of minister’s office highlighted by media

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – The twists and turns in the story of the "bugging" of the office of the Minister of Lands and natural Resources dominated the media this week.

The story began with a statement by the Minister, Mr. John Peter Amewu, that a security sweep unveiled a secret recording device pinned to the back of the coat of arms in the office.

He said the device, which was said to be able to pick low volume sounds about 30 metres away, had a data storage and transmitting unit.

Accra-based Joy FM quoted Mr Amewu as saying that the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) had initiated investigation into how the device came to be placed there.

Mr Amewu said: “National Security has been to my office at least two times. The National Security through the Security Minister is on top of the issue and I think they will be able to get feedback on the development.”

He said he was not worried as “conversations that go on in that office are supposed to be for the consumption of the general public and for the interest of Ghanaians and so I am not so much worried what might have gone out”.

In a strange twist, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, former minister of Lands and Natural Resources under the past government, came out to claim the device saying it was planted around 2013 whilst he was fighting illegal mining.

His explanation was that he wanted to monitor people who were moving in and out of his office either in his presence or absence.

He said that the device, which was a gift, however, was not fully installed, and the anxiety about spying on the current Minister, who is at the forefront of fighting illegal small-scale mining, was unnecessary.

“That was my personal property… It was not working. The installation was not completed,” he said.

Alhaji Fuseini was sent to another ministry in a cabinet reshuffle two years before the new government was sworn into office.

The pro-government Daily Guide newspaper reported the story under the headline, “Minister’s Office Bugged With Video & Audio Gadgets.”

The newspaper quoted a security expert with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra, Dr. Kwasi Anning, as saying the “bugs” found in the minister’s office were the tip of the iceberg.

“I think if we were to sweep every government ministry ….we would see a lot of these ‘bugs,'” he said.

“I Feel Naked – Former Minister Laments Over Inusah Fuseini Bug,” was the headline of another story by Joy FM on its website, which quoted Nii Osah Mills, who took over from Alhaji Fuseini after a cabinet reshuffle, as expressing dismay following revelations that all his days in office were under the watch of a secret camera.

“I feel naked,” said Mills, who became the minister from 2014-2017, adding that he felt his security was compromised.

“…such a device was in my office throughout and I would spend time in the office sometimes the whole day, sometimes closing 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock,” Nii Mills said. He said he found no comfort in the claim by Alhaji Fuseini that the device was defective.

“I don’t think it was fair that a former colleague would plant a device and not inform me whether it is working or not, that is not the question.”

In a story under the headline “Inusah Fuseini apologises for not notifying successors of recording device,” the state-owned Graphic reported that Alhaji Fuseini had apologised to his successors for failing to inform them about the installation of the device after he left his post.

The Graphic said he owned up as being the brain behind the installation of the device and said: “I apologise to my successors; it was never intended to spy on them. Nobody was spied on in the office after l had left there.

“The device was not activated and that is why, when the security agencies went to sweep the office the first time, they did not receive any signal that a device had been planted there.”

Alhaji Fuseini said he was prepared to cooperate with investigations into the matter.

He explained that he took the decision after the National Security had informed him to be careful about his personal security, adding that there was no ill-motive behind it.

Meanwhile, Accra-based radio station Starr FM in a story under the headline, “Interrogate Inusah Over Spying Device – Dr. Aning” quoted Dr Anning as urging the security agencies to invite Alhaji Fuseini over the spying equipment.

Dr. Anning said the issue was sensitive and must be clarified immediately.

“I think a nice invitation by the respective security agencies will be fine. So the agencies involved in the issue must invite him through the right channel since he is a member of parliament so we can clarify this as quickly as possible,” he said.
-0- PANA MA 15July2017

15 july 2017 05:41:49

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