By Iddi Muhayu-Deen
When we say the John Mahama NDC administration was the most clueless and incompetent in the history of Ghana, some of you don’t get it. Ok, let me see if I can make you get it, using the infamous ‘GITMOGATE’ and their handling of same. Now watch this;
His Interior Minister as well as Foreign Affairs Minister, both of whom were members of the National Security Council, claimed to be UNAWARE of this deal. Parliament, which is the representative of the people, was also NOT kept in the know. Perhaps, Mahama was the only person who knew everything about this deal he negotiated. It was shrouded in secrecy before the Ghanaian people, in whom the sovereignty of this country per Article 1(1) of the 1992 Constitution, resides.
In fact, but for the Fox Magazine, a newspaper in the United States that initially broke the story, these terror suspects would have been living in Ghana for as long as they wish without anybody knowing. It was only when the Fox Magazine exposed President Mahama with this publication that his government felt the need to inform Ghanaians about the presence of these suspected terrorists in Ghana, by which time, the guys had already spent about a month in the country and were being catered for with our taxes.
President Mahama wouldn’t also tell us how much dollars was paid to him for doing America this great favour even though the BBC reports that the US government often compensates countries that agree to take such risks. As a matter of fact, the last ex-gitmo detainee that was resettled in the UK by name, Shaker Aamer came with a compensation package amounting to US$ 1 million.
It is instructive to note that the US Senate, at some point, passed a law REJECTING the resettling of any ex-Guantanamo detainee on US soil because such detainees were deemed to be extraordinary dangerous people, as in the words of the former US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld. That is why the US pays so much compensation to countries that accept these ex-detainees and suspected terrorists.
So, if the almighty US, with all their unparallel security sophistication, fear to accommodate these ex-detainees from the notorious Guantanamo Bay, why would John Mahama think that a poor and helpless country like Ghana could accommodate them? A country [Ghana] with a very porous security architecture where for instance, on December 25, 2012, a Nigerian terrorist connected to Al-Qaeda, by name, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutalib made a smooth passage through our one and only international airport [Kotoka] with some dangerous explosives (bombs) to the United States, where he was apprehended.
Fast forward to 2017, the Supreme Court of Ghana slams President Mahama and declares his action in accepting the Gitmo 2 without regard to the due process of law, as UNCONSTITUTIONAL and gives this current government, one of two options. To either take them back to the US or get Parliament to ratify the agreement. But the first option was not enforceable because in the agreement that was signed, the guys could not be taken back to the US. Also, seeing that the two years asylum granted them by the Mahama government had almost elapsed, the only option available to this government was to ratify the agreement, which was done.
Meanwhile, the NDCs knew very well that, in the agreement they signed, there was NO EXIT PLAN for the Gitmo 2 to exit the country upon expiration of the two years. How pathetic! It is only an incompetent government that cannot think beyond two years and conduct its affairs accordingly. The agreement, as noted, also specifically states that, taking them [the Gitmo 2] back to America after the two years was a NO option.
This meant that in the event no other country is willing to accept them, Ghana would necessarily have to keep them willy-nilly. As if we haven’t seen enough absurdity and incompetence from the NDC, it has also now emerged that they had actually given the detainees REFUGEE STATUS to allow them to stay in Ghana permanently until they themselves decide otherwise. How can you be this wicked to your country?
This again happened at the blindside of everybody including the people’s representatives [Parliament]. And interestingly, this shocking revelation comes at a time this government had made substantial progress in its negotiations to send them to Morocco. In fact, they conferred the refugee status on these detainees six clear months before the expiration of their period of asylum.
Yet, all along, the NDC made us believe that this government could have deported these people back to the US or any other country. How hypocritical! For the avoidance of doubt, the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, of which Ghana is a State Party, clearly states that refugees CANNOT be compelled to leave their host country without their consent except where they clearly breach the provisions of the Convention.
And please do not be deceived into thinking that these ex-gitmo detainees (Ben Atef and Mohammed Salih) are not dangerous people. They were in fact arrested on the BATTLEFIELD, where they were being trained by almighty Osama Bin Laden [arguably, the world’s greatest terrorist of all times]. One of them was said to be his personal driver and bodyguard. You can’t tell me that these guys do not pose any terror risk to our country.
If they were not suspected terrorists, why were they caged in Guantanamo for over 14 years together with the world’s most dangerous people? How can we be sure that their extremist ideology hasn’t been badly influenced by the long detention? The truth of the matter is that these gitmo guys still pose a major security threat. Their fundamentalist ideology at the time they were arrested by the US government has further been accentuated by the over 14 years of incarceration in Guantanamo.
Also, there are records to show that several ex-gitmo detainees went back to terrorism after they had been set free by the US government and were resettled in other countries. Here, mention can be made of former detainees like Abdulai Mehsud, Mullah Shahzada, Maulvi Abdul Gafar, Mohammed Ismail, Abdul Rahman Noor, Mohammed Nayim Farouq and several others.
The fact that these gitmo 2 have lived in Ghana for two years and we haven’t had any terrorist attack doesn’t suggest that they have reformed. Two years can certainly not be enough for such conclusion to be drawn. In fact, in the year 2012, one Al-Kossi, an ex-gitmo detainee who was resettled in Sudan went back to terrorism two years after he was resettled.
He is now said to be a chief terror in Yemen [the very country these gitmo 2 hail from] and a danger to the world. It is even possible that there is a direct nexus between the presence of these gitmo guys and the recent arrest that has been made of some suspected ISIS agents in Accra who were carrying bombs (grenades) and other explosives. That’s how John Mahama chose to jeopardize the security of this country by accepting these gitmo guys in the first place for whatever reasons.
You and I can only be curious in wanting to know what would have happened if President Mahama had not accepted the request made by the US government to host these ex-gitmo detainees thereby putting the whole country at risk of terror attack. In 2007, when President Kufour rejected America’s request to establish a US military camp (AFRICOM) in Ghana following the concerns raised by many Ghanaians, did the country lose anything? The difference between the two political leaders and their respective governments is what we call, COMPETENCE and the lack of it.
In the meantime, I’m confident the current NPP government would handle this delicate issue with the needed finesse and diligence. My fellow countrymen and women, when you go to say a prayer, pray that Ghana never gets a leader like John Mahama again.