Executive Power being used to subvert rule of law – the struggle of three rice farmers continues

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Following is the full text of a statement issued earlier this evening by former Attorney General under the PPP/C administration, Anil Nandlall:

The struggle of Phillip Alexander Johnson, Rupert Blackman and Rawle Fitzgerald Miller, three (3) small scale rice farmers intensify against a Government that is using its mighty executive powers to confiscate state lands lawfully leased to these farmers by the previous Administration.  This case reflects the tragedy of hundreds of persons right across the length and breadth of this country whose propriety interests are being trampled upon and expropriated by those in charge of the state machinery. That the constitution, the self declared supreme law of this land, accords the most entrenched protection to private proprietary interests does not deter this Government’s multiple conquest to seize property. Court rulings are ignored, subverted and rendered impotent by those wielding executive power as they persecute this authoritarian and unconstitutional agenda of seizure of private property.

Anil Nandlall
Anil Nandlall

These farmers read a Notice published in the Kaieteur News newspapers that their fifty (50) year old lease of state lands at the rear of Seafield Village, West Coast Berbice, were cancelled with immediate effect by the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary Development Authority (MM/ADA).  They challenged this purported revocation of their leases in the High Court. I appeared for them.  The Attorney General appeared for the MM/ADA. After a full hearing, the Court quashed the alleged revocation of these leases on many grounds, including, that the MM/ADA has no authority to cancel a lease granted by an Executive President. The effect of this decision is that the said leases were never revoked and are therefore, valid and binding.  The decision of the Court was not appealed.

The rice farmers thought that this was the end of the matter. They were wrong. They have now been informed by Mr. Aubrey Charles, the Manager of MMADA that the President has now revoked their leases. No reason was offered to them for this alleged revocation; neither were they afforded any hearing whatsoever.  I wrote to Mr. Charles requesting a copy of this latest revocation.  He has refused to give me or the farmers a copy.  So the President is using executive power in disregard  of court rulings, natural justice and in violation of the constitutional protection accorded to property, to expropriate private property.  I am told that these lands will be given to supporters of the APNU.

Unfortunately for this government, I will not relent. I will challenge this new revocation as well and am prepared to take it as far as it goes. Let us see how far they are prepared to go in their quest to seize private properties.

 

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