Former Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson will serve as the first director of the National Crime Intelligence Agency (NCIA), Minister of National Security Marvin Dames announced yesterday.
“I am pleased to report, Mr. Speaker, that the prime minister has approved former Commissioner of Police Mr. Anthony Ferguson to be this agency’s first director,” Dames said during his contribution to the 2021/2022 budget debate.
“And so, congratulations to Mr. Ferguson … a man with the highest degree of integrity and respect, both locally and internationally.”
Dames yesterday highlighted the NCIA’s role in The Bahamas’ national security.
“NCIA … is the primary agency responsible for gathering, analyzing, coordinating, disseminating, and reflecting the complex overlapping of both domestic and international security issues,” he said.
“NCIA also seeks to establish channels of communication with overseas intelligence agencies for the promotion and exchange of information to advance the safety of our nation.
“And so, Mr. Speaker, as a government, we understand the importance of such an agency to any country’s national security.
“And we are taking a very methodical approach to ensure that this agency develops into an agency that all Bahamians can be proud of.”
Functions of the NCIA include the gathering, coordination and analysis of intelligence and providing the National Security Council with information relating to security matters or criminal activities.
The director of the NCIA answers to the minister responsible, which has raised concern for civic groups and the opposition who questioned whether this provision subjects the agency to potential abuse.
Section nine of the act empowers the minister to give written instructions to the director, who “shall, as soon as practicable after giving a direction in writing to the director, cause a copy of the direction to be given to the prime minister and the review committee”.
The review committee is the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, a seven-member committee of House and Senate members charged with review and oversight of the NCIA and investigating complaints made against the agency.
The prime minister selects five of the members and the leader of opposition appoints two – a provision that prompted concern about the likelihood of the committee holding the NCIA accountable for its actions.