Analytical Perspective on Ghana’s Intelligence Management Practices September 28, 2021.
The increasing demand for valuable intelligence in support of law enforcement and conduct of national security and diplomacy requires adequate investments in building intelligence capability to counter threats to peace and security. While many countries continue to initiate reforms to position their security services in response to emerging threats, issue of intelligence management continue to pose challenge to national security managers.
In assessing this subject in relation to the employment of intelligence as security management tool in some notable violent incidents in the country, I have examined reports of the Ejura Shooting Committee and Ayawaso West Wuogon Shooting Commission reports.
It is worth noting that in both instances, the said operations that led to injuries and/or deaths and destruction of properties were said to have been intelligence-led, bringing to question the value or quality of intelligence available to security managers and the instruments used in dealing with the threats identified. Indeed, the Ayawaso Commission, like the Ejura Committee could not establish the existence of any intelligence as basis for operational deployments, and also lack of co-ordination among heads of security agencies and among field operatives.
The Ejura Committee makes interesting findings about lack of co-ordination of security activites among the various actors, police, military, and Regional Security Council (REGSEC), leading to the escalated violence that claimed lives and properties. Of critical importance are findings No. 21, 22 and 23 bothering on information of possible violence and how that information was handled to avert the occurrence. While the committee doubted such intelligence was available to the district security authorities, it also found that there was no co-ordination of security activities, leading to the shootings.
It is clear from the evidence of the security chiefs at the district and regionals levels ie District Police Commander, Deputy Regional Police Commander, Regional Security Liaison Officer and Regional Minister (Chairman of REGSEC), that there was no professional handling on information and/or intelligence if any at all was available. This finding is further re-enforced by media pronouncements of the regional minister of having personally ordered the deployment of the military to Ejura based on his own intelligence received from undisclosed sources in Ejura. The national security architecture as elaborated in Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, 2020 (Act 1030) makes REGSECs and DISECs part of the national security management structures. The Act makes these bodies responsible for pre-empting breaches to peace and security, and taking appropriate measures to safeguard security at the regional and district levels. Like the National Security Council, REGSECs and DISECs have representations from the various security agencies with the regional ministers and district chief executives as chairpersons. In same manner as the President has at his disposal intelligence and security advice from the National Security Council through the National Security Co-ordinator and inputs from members of the Council, same is expected of the regional minister and DCE.
It is instructive to note that the role played by the Bureau of National Intelligence (NIB) which is the primary domestic intelligence organization was lost on the committee as neither the District Officer NIB nor the Regional Commander NIB was invited to testify. These officers are key in terms of providing early warning information and intelligence to DISEC and REGSEC on developments that pose threats to peace and security of their areas of commands. It was therefore expected that NIB intelligence would have been fed to DISEC and REGSEC on planned violence by youth of the area to enable the needed action by the appropriate agency. It is therefore strange in the scheme of things that the Chairman of REGSEC claimed publicly in the media and in his evidence before the committee that he personally ordered the deployment of military and that he relied on ‘intelligence’ received from his own undisclosed sources in Ejura. This is condemnable and affront to established standards in security management, where it was expected that REGSEC will have provided him with advice based on professional intelligence analysis and security assessment by the appropriate security agency and inputs from professional representatives on REGSEC.
It is normal in practice that in operational circumstances quick decisions are taken to direct enforcement action, and the intelligence system should be well placed to handle such situations rather than the regional minister relying on unevaluated intelligence sources to take such critical decision as use of military in quelling civil disorder.
It is without doubt, based on the committee’s findings that REGSEC at that instance collapsed, leaving the regional minister to rely on his own non-professional intelligence assessment in intervening in the Ejura disturbances, further worsening the situation and this calls for grave concern.
A further demonstration of weak intelligence and security co-ordination is the undefined role of government appointed Regional Security Liaison Officer (Regional Security Co-ordinator) whose position within the national security management structure is still vague. While the National Security Co-ordinator who is head of the security and intelligence community, has control over the NIB and other national intelligence agencies such as the Research Department (foreign intelligence agency) and National Signals Bureau (communication and signal intelligence agency) to whom these agencies submit intelligence reports, the Regional Security Co-ordinator in practice has no such power over the Regional Commander NIB. This makes the Regional Security Co-ordinator bereft of actual intelligence reports except briefings provided by Regional Commander NIB at REGSEC sittings. In his evidence before the committee, the Regional Security Co-ordinator detailed his functions as collecting and transmitting intelligence to National Security Council Secretariat through sources he cultivates in the districts. It is evident from these revelations that there is duplication of collection functions at the regional level such that the Regional Commander NIB, Regional Security Co-ordinator and Regional Minister independently collect and disseminate intelligence. The disjointed relationship between the Regional Security Co-ordinator and regional minister is an anomaly that needs to be rectified. In addition to this, is the fact that the Regional Security Co-ordinator does not have power over the Regional Commander NIB unlike at the National Security Co-ordinator to whom the Director-General NIB and those of other national intelligence services report, hence relies on his own means to conduct parallel intelligence activities in the various districts where NIB has trained operatives.
It is important to emphasize that intelligence activity must be professionally carried out and appropriately co-ordinated to achieve its objective and this must be in line with established national standards and framework for national intelligence and security management. While the National Co-ordinator has extensive intelligence gathering powers and can employ all possible means to obtain intelligence from any part of the country and beyond, the role of the Regional Security Co-ordinator must be properly defined in relation to his relevance to REGSEC. The recommendation by the Regional Security Co-ordinator for establishment of Situation Rooms at REGSECs and DISECs is a step in the right direction. This Situation Rooms, a replica of the National Security Council Secretariat where intelligence reports from the national intelligence services are transmitted to, will ensure professional analysis (particularly operational intelligence) of all information from the districts to be assessed and appropriate action sanctioned by REGSEC. This situation room should be controlled by the Regional Security Co-ordinator who will be responsible for collating intelligence information for consideration by REGSEC. While the Regional Security Co-ordinator may maintain some network of sources and agents, the District and Regional Commands of NIB must remain the lead agency in providing early warning advice to REGSEC and all action emanating from such reports must be sanctioned by REGSEC as legally constituted and not by solely by the regional minister in his capacity as Chairman of REGSEC.
Another major issue of concern that has lingered over the years and continually to manifest is the poor criminal intelligence capability of the police. The police at the moment has no properly dedicated criminal intelligence outfit serving its criminal intelligence requirements, thereby denying it of the required capability to accurately pre-empt and disrupt potential breaches of peace and public order. Even though the NIB as the main provider of internal intelligence feeds the police with intelligence, there is the need to establish and maintain an effective and efficient criminal intelligence network within the police to direct its operations.
The current Police Intelligence Directorate at the Police Headquarters must be restructured and equipped with modern intelligence gathering tools and trained operatives and analysts. The existing practice where personnel of the Criminal Investigation Department serve as both investigators and intelligence officers must be abolished. CID officers who operate from police stations and facilities accessible to the public, and perform investigation duties that exposes them to the public cannot be effective intelligence officers, as this practice compromises their operational cover and protection of identities of intelligence operatives.
It is refreshing that the National Security Strategy of the Government of Ghana recognizes the need to build the criminal intelligence capability of the police and other law enforcement agencies such as the prisons service, as intelligence-led policing is the ultimate to effectively combat crime in the 21st century. The Ministry of National Security, working in conjunction with the Ministry of Interior must as a matter of urgency initiate action to ensure the establishment of a Criminal Intelligence Branch of the Police, with its Director-General separate from the Director-General CID. All intelligence activities should be transferred to this new CIB and its officers operating under cover and not engaged in criminal investigations that expose their identities.
The Ayawaso and Ejura shooting incidents remain some of the many cases that continue to demonstrate the lack of proper co-ordination of intelligence capability of the security machinery. Even though Act 1030 sought to rectify some of these challenges much is yet to be done in terms of co-ordination mechanisms, particularly at the regional and district levels as well as role of military in internal security operations.
This requires development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for REGSECs and DISECs so as to be able to effectively evaluate actions of security administrators against established standards in order to improve the management and administration of national security in Ghana.
Institute for Intelligence and Strategic Security
The writer is also the President of the Ghana Chapter of International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts and Research Fellow at Aman Center for Democracy, Security and Counterterrorism