I can't figure out whether last night's showdown at the Bureau of National Investigation was funny or whether it was plain pathetic. Either way it was pretty embarrassing for the NPP.
To those who haven’t been following the story, Ghana's new NDC government has repeatedly threatened to prosecute former officials suspected of corruption. They have done this so many times that the opposition NPP have called their bluff and told them to put up or shut the f*** up (not in so many words, but you know that it is African tradition to embellish...) Recently the BNI (Ghana's very own not-so-secret service) visited the home of former President Kufuor's Chief of Staff Kwadwo Mpiani (perhaps the second most powerful and more importantly involved man in the previous administration) only to find him away on a funeral tour. The BNI subsequently 'invited' Mpiani to visit them for a chat over some check-check (refer to my previous point on embellishment). Yesterday was the day it all went down.
Mpiani went in with a gaggle of lawyers at around 11 am. A crowd of NPP supporters started forming at the BNI's very tall gate. By nightfall, the crowd had grown to around 200 people and when - by nightfall - their man had not come out, I guess the terror started setting in.
You see, this was no ordinary crowd of supporters. It included reportedly over 20 former ministers, apparently there in solidarity with their mighty-has-fallen brother. When they could no longer contact him by mobile phone, they apparently assumed the worst and literally started rattling the gates demanding his release. The only thing missing was pitchforks, flames and perhaps Radio Gold. Their argument was that Brother Kwadwo had been 'invited' there and it is only after a citizen has been 'arrested' that he can be kept for questioning for up to 48 hours. To misquote Cinque in Amistad, "give him his free".
Let's go back to a similar incident when the NDC was in opposition and the BNI 'invited' the party's founding father, Uncle JJ . Back then, a few of the NDC’s big men also showed up in 'solidarity', accusing the NPP of irresponsibility, unneccessary secrecy and intimidation. Uh-huh. The then-ruling NPP bemusedly told their opponents to calm down... until last night when their own saggy behinds were on the line.
Mpiani emerged just before midnight. He did not look like a man who had been given an extensive anal probe or anything so invasive. His brothers-in-arms looked relieved. A little anyway. After all, the questioning continues today. I wish I could tell you that Mpiani’s supporters feel sheepish and embarrassed, but this is Ghana and that’s not how things play out here. There will be press conferences, counter-press conferences, conjecture, propaganda and childishness. It's all 'sini': the NPP probably felt they had a duty to the people to play their part well and they did.