“Call the police” – Jagdeo challenges Benn on land documents

Commissioner of GL&SC Trevor Benn

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is challenging Commissioner of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) Trevor Benn to bring in the Police over recent revelations of documents that show massive giveaways of prime lands across the country.

Last week, Jagdeo made several disclosures at his weekly press conference by producing several maps to show allocations of prime lands to persons with connections to the Government.

The following day, however, Benn indicated that he will be calling in the Police to probe how those documents got into the hands of the Opposition Leader.

Jagdeo, picking up on the threat, told the media on Thursday that he welcomed the investigation but warned that the tables will turn.

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

“If the Police have to investigate anything, they should be investigating Trevor Benn and how many files he has taken of individuals personally, and the staff knows (about it). I will get some of the staff to go to Court to speak about it because they know what’s going on. They’re upset and many of them are resigning. I’m daring him to do this,” the Opposition Leader stated.

According to Jagdeo, Benn never sought to dispute the land giveaways but seemed to be more concerned about how the documents were released.

Furthermore, Jagdeo went on to dismiss claims by the GL&SC Head that he is in possession of thousands of acres of leased land. He pointed out that it is ridiculous that Benn would make such a claim, noting that since the CEO has access to all the information, then he should produce the evidence of this.

Responding to comments made following his revelations last week that it was a racist attack, the Opposition Leader explained that the is not about race but cronyism. He noted that President David Granger is constantly given a free pass in every corruption matter that his administration is involved and this recent issue is a clear indication of that.

GL&SC Commissioner, Trevor Benn

Jagdeo pointed out that four top officials within the Ministry of the Presidency, which falls under the preview of the Head of State, are beneficiaries of large-scale tracts of prime properties and as such, the President must answer to this.

According to the Opposition Leader, the racism issue was only raised in a failed attempt to cover up this large-scale corruption. In fact, he noted that over the years, the PPP has consistently been outspoken against acts of corruption by many “cronies” of the coalition Government who are of Indian descent but there were never any such racism accusations raised.

“So how come it was not about race at that time when we pointed out there were big cronies, of different races, who were benefiting from this Government… But suddenly because we mentioned four persons who are working close to the office of the President, and they are beneficiaries of land and because they are Afro-Guyanese, we become racist”.

Meanwhile, when asked about the lands that were leased by the PPP administration, the Opposition Leader admitted that indeed persons sympathetic to the PPP administration got lands but he noted so did persons from the then PNC-led opposition as well. He explained that apart from the fact that there was not a No-Confidence Motion lingering over the former regime, his party, during its tenure, managed to develop over 100,000 new house lots from scratch to distribute. The coalition Government, he noted on the other hand, has not developed a single land.

Furthermore, Jagdeo outlined too that while lands were given out by the PPP, never in the 23 years in office were any prime lands, such as proposed location for the deep-water harbour projects, handed out.