By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, January 14, 2016
The Attorney General (AG) and Minister for Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, is reportedly angry with Joy FM over a comment the station’s ‘Morning Show’ host, Kojo Yankson, made yesterday.
The comment centred on Ghana’s acceptance of two suspected terrorists from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba on the orders of the United States government.
She has requested for the audio tape recording of the programme to enable her ‘advise’ herself over the statement that she was apparently not aware of the law that necessitated the sending of the detainees whom the Foreign Minister, Hannah Tetteh called ‘Al-Qaeda foot soldiers,’ to Ghana.
Ghana’s anti-terrorism law bars entry of suspected terrorists into the country.
“My attention has been drawn to an untrue statement made by the host of the Joy FM ‘Super Morning show,’ Kojo Yankson, on the resettlement in Ghana of two detainees of the US government from the Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay,” she stated in a letter to the station which was copied to the Minister of Communications and the National Media Commission (NMC).
DAILY GUIDE learnt that after President John Mahama’s news conference at the Flagstaff House on Tuesday following his third anniversary in office, the Joy FM host approached the AG and wanted to know from her how the deal was concluded, especially the applicable law, but the AG is said to have told him that she was not part of the negotiating team and rather it was the Foreign Ministry.
Based on the information, the following morning, Mr Yankson allegedly said on air that the AG was not even part of the negotiations to import the suspected terrorists and that might have incensed Ms Appiah-Opong to request for the audio recordings of the show as she was said to have called for retraction and apology.
The arrival of Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby – both citizens of Yemen – who had been in US detention over a decade – has sparked heated debate in the country with powerful groups asking the Mahama-led NDC government to return them to the US without delay since they are a national security threat.
Almost everybody in the country has been incensed by the government’s decision to host the suspected terrorists, except appointees and some sympathizers of the NDC government.
While the Christian Council and others are demanding to know why the government took the unilateral decision, the Catholic Bishops Conference say the government’s action was putting the people of Ghana in danger, describing the presence of the detainees as ‘time bomb’ tickling to explode.
President Mahama at the news conference, urged Ghanaians, especially Christians who are against the decision, “to show compassion” towards the two terrorists whilst justifying his government’s decision to import them.
In an emotional appeal especially to those who have heavily criticized the move, President Mahama said “I do not think that we should feel ashamed to have done it. We must also look at the side of compassion; I’m a Christian and in the Bible, it teaches us to be compassionate to prisoners; that is even persons who have been convicted,” and questioned the faith of those who have raised issues with the government’s action.
Curiously, President Mahama has said that the two detainees were put in the ‘lowest risk category’ by the US before they were flown to Ghana, which means that they are not ‘harmful’ as many are claiming.
However, he indicated that the two detainees are being monitored 24/7 by the Ghanaian security agencies which puts in doubt the claim that the men are not harmful.
It is emerging that one of the President’s big men that played a very important role in bringing the terrorists to Ghana is Lt General Joseph Henry Smith, a former Chief of Defence Staff, former Defense Minister and currently, Ghana’s Ambassador to the US.
Unconfirmed reports say he was the lead negotiator in the whole deal with the Americans. General Smith has been flown to Accra to be part of government’s team to douse the raging fire.
The NDC government appears to have breached Ghana’s anti-terrorism laws by accepting the Guantanamo inmates.
Under the current Anti-Terrorism Act (Act 762), anybody suspected to have engaged in terrorism or terrorists-related activities is not supposed to enter Ghana.
Section 35(1) of Act 762 states: “The director of immigration or an officer authorised by the director shall not grant an endorsement or authority to permit a person to enter this country if there is reasonable ground to suspect that the person is, will or has been involved in the commission of a terrorist act.”