November 15, 2021
RE-DESIGNATE NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE BUREAU AS BUREAU OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
The Institute for Intelligence and Strategic Security has taken keen note of news publication regarding alleged compromise of security information as a result of change in nomenclature of the erstwhile Bureau of National Investigation and accordingly calls for reversal of the old acronym, BNI.
1. News report by Day Break newspaper indicates as a result of the redesignation of the nation’s internal intelligence agency as National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) which bears same acronym with National Investment Bank (NIB), the public is yet to come to terms with the new name, and that official documents meant for the intelligence agency are mistakenly sent to the National Investment Bank.
2. IISS particularly observes that the confusion is avoidable since the redesignation of the BNI to NIB adds no value. It notes that the recently enacted Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, 2020 (Act 1030) only sort to change the word ‘Investigation’ to ‘Intelligence’ whereby the new name will have been Bureau of National Intelligence, maintaining the old acronym BNI.
3. It is also worthy of note that, the IISS raised concerns during the consideration of the bill to repeal Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, 1996 (Act 526) and replace it with Act 1030, in which the bill sort to remove the word ‘Investigation’ in the nomenclature of the Intelligence Agency.
4. For instance in the memorandum accompanying the bill, the justification for the replacement of ‘Investigation’ with ‘Intelligence’ was to portray the agency as one concerned with intelligence related activities, which in the assessment of the Institute was a misplaced priority since public perception and/or appreciation of the functions of the Bureau as an intelligence agency lie in the proper conduct and exercise of the mandate of the agency and its personnel.
5. The renowned Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of US, analogous to Bureau of National Investigation is a key agency of the US intelligence community responsible for domestic intelligence. By virtue of its name, the critical mandate of the FBI as US main internal intelligence agency has not been lost on the agency.
6. Following the September 11th terrorist attack upon the US and the subsequent setting up of a Commission of Enquiry (9/11 Commission), the Commission did not recommend name change but recommended structural and institutional reforms strengthen the FBI and the US intelligence community to adequately counter threats to US national security.
7. The Government’s initiative through the Ministry of National Security to review Act 526 which had been without amendment since 1996 was also in line with restructuring the Ghanaian intelligence community to meet demands of contemporary threats to internal and external security of Ghana.
8. The Institute however continues to state its clear position that the justification for change in name of the Bureau of National Investigation to National Intelligence Bureau is a highly misplaced priority, in that the Ghanaian public are much appreciative of the work of the Bureau as an intelligence agency and can clearly distinguish between the Bureau and Police as an investigating agency.
9. Granted that, the purpose of the new name was to portray the Bureau as an intelligence agency rather than an investigation body, the replacement of the word ‘Investigation’ with ‘Intelligence’ is sufficient and nomenclature should have remained BNI (Bureau of National Intelligence) rather than National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), a situation that has become a subject of confusion with serious implications for integrity of security information belonging to the Bureau.
10. IISS further re-iterates its earlier position that, in the face of new and emerging threats to national security, such as terrorism and violent extremism, political vigilantism, transnational organized crimes and climate change, the focus of any reforms should be investment in improvement of the intelligence capability of the nation.
11. The Bureau and other elements of the intelligence community such as the Research Department, Department of Defence Intelligence of Ghana Armed Forces, Financial Intelligence Centre, Narcotics Control Commission and the Police Intelligence Directorate should be adequately equipped with modern communication, surveillance and intelligence gathering equipment and logistics for the effective and efficient discharge of their collective constitutional mandate of protecting and defending the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Ghana.
12. There is also the need to strengthen recruitment systems and procedures to ensure only qualified, dedicated and loyal citizens are recruited into the Bureau and other intelligence agencies.