Pressure is beginning to mount on the government to arrest and prosecute former Minister of Lands and Forestry, Inusah Fuseini.
Alhaji Fuseini, who was also a Minister of Roads under President Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration, made a shocking confession on Tuesday when he admitted the installation of the secret audiovisual recording gadgets at a hidden place in the office of the current Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu.
He claimed he planted the gadgets when he was a minister in that office before he was sent to the Roads Ministry.
Curiously, he left the gadgets in his former office, claiming that it was not working.
His admission got his successor, Nii Osah Mills – who served under President Mahama – boiling with rage because he said he had realized that for the two-and-a-half years he occupied the office, he was ‘naked.’
Nii Osah Mills, a lawyer who was once President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), clearly was not happy when he got to know that Fuseini, the MP for Tamale Central, had ‘spied’ on him for two years.
The issue is taking a new twist with a call to prosecute the NDC MP, who is also a lawyer.
A member of the Council of State and veteran lawyer, Sam Okudzeto, has joined the call and said it was illegal for the former minister to plant the secret recorder in the office when he was no longer the minister.
Mr. Okudzeto said that in other jurisdictions the former minister would be facing the full rigours of the law.
“It is not allowed anywhere in the world. In fact, he should be prosecuted for doing that,” the former GBA President told Class FM in Accra.
He said Fuseini should have removed the gadgets when his tenure of office ended at the ministry.
Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has also said the former minister should not be left off the hook.
Ms. Owusu-Ekuful, NPP MP for Ablekuma West, urged the National Security to conduct investigations and institute ‘punishment’ where necessary.
“It’s against the law… even if you take a picture and you are not given the permission to publish it, you can be sued, and so to fix a secret camera in an office which is not your personal property, you have to take it off when leaving the office. You have to take it to your house which is your personal property, since he claimed it was a gift for him.
“It was not right; maybe he might have forgotten but for all these years, he should have remembered at a point . . . It must be investigated, even though he has apologized because it might be intentional or unintentional,” she said on UTV yesterday.
According to him, in spite of the former minister’s apology, “There should be some form of caution or punishment to deter others from repeating it. He must not be left off the hook just because he apologized.”
Already, the Executive Director of the Data Protection Commission, Teki Akuetteh Falconer, has said the former minister’s action might have ‘breached’ the Data Protection Law.
Making references to the Data Protection Law passed in 2012 on Joy FM, the executive director said there is a breach of privacy and the law if one is recorded without his or her consent.
Quoting Section 19 of the law, Ms. Falconer pointed out two conditions under which a person may be put under surveillance.
“The law states, ‘Personal data may only be processed if the purpose for which it is to be processed, is necessary, relevant and not excessive,’ and added that ‘The person to be monitored needs to grant consent.”
She said it is a criminal offence to breach a person’s privacy and added that the law also provides the option for an aggrieved person to sue for the invasion of privacy or lodge a complaint with the Data Protection Commission for investigation.
Mr Falconer explained that the purpose of the information is important in determining the breach of the law. Even where the purpose is determined, another question to consider is if there are other less intrusive means to monitor a target.
The discovery of the gadgets by the National Security set tongues wagging; and immediately the incident occurred, fingers were being pointed at those operating in the illegal mining sector because the current minister – Mr. Amewu – is waging a relentless war on the illegal mining activities popularly called galamsey.
Just as the government was directing the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to investigate the incident, Inusah Fuseini popped up, claiming ownership of the gadgets and said he hid them there in 2013 for his personal protection because he was then leading a clampdown on galamsey.
“It is true that I was installing it in 2013; but we never got around to completing the installation and so that is why when the national security did the swoop in the office, they didn’t pick any signal because it’s not working,” he said.
He claimed that the devices never worked because “somebody was doing it (for me) but I didn’t have time,” adding, “While doing it he needed me in the office but I didn’t have time so he couldn’t complete it.”
However, a security expert with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre (KAIPTC), Dr. Kwasi Aning, has called on the security agencies in the country to invite and interrogate Fuseini over the spying equipment.
Dr. Aning, who earlier said the ‘bugs’ found in the lands minister’s office was the tip of the iceberg, noted that the words of Insuah Fuseini are a security threat and that the issue is 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.
On Monday, news broke that operatives of the National Security had found gadgets secretly planted in a plaque bearing the Coat of Arms of Ghana, which had been hanged at a corner in the office of the minister.
The devices are said to be very powerful, with an inbuilt camera, storage unit and another device believed to be a transmitter.
According to sources, the ‘highly’ sensitive device can pick a whisper about 35 feet away, had been neatly put in a black metal box and uses batteries.