Opposition leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo believes that his party has been vindicated when it predicted that the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into an alleged assassination plot against President David Granger, would be a witch-hunt headed by the coalition affiliated Paul Slowe, who also had an axe to grind.
Jagdeo made his views known on Tuesday when he addressed members of the local press corps at his party’s Freedom House Headquarters.
According to the Opposition leader, the party had warned of the sinister motives behind the establishment of that CoI at a time when the country was facing its largest crisis ever with regards the prison system. He was at the time referring to the fire which completely gutted the Georgetown Prison—a situation compounded by the escaped prisoners some of whom are still on the run including Royden Williams, charged in relation to the Bartica massacre.
Jagdeo told reporters, “we see the motive being revealed…we warned of it, It had to do with destroying the career path of many existing officers.”
The Opposition leader pointed to the reports in the State media with regards the recommendations that had emanated from that report that was somehow mysteriously leaked from the State to the State owned and controlled Guyana Chronicle.
Jagdeo in pointing to the motives behind the COI and the purported leaks to the State owned media said it was all a ploy to besmirch existing officers in the Police Force in order to replace them “with people who APNU believe are sympathetic to the PNC.”
The opposition leader said “we pointed out that, that might be the ulterior motive and today they just confirmed…the government has confirmed that that is so,” as he pointed to the three days of running coverage in the Guyana Chronicle which has lambasted the most senior ranks of the Guyana Police Force, Commissioner Seelall Persaud, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum and David Ramnarine among others.
Jagdeo used the opportunity to also trade barbs with the Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, saying “despite the crocodile tears (being) shed by Ramjattan, how he is so concerned about the leak, imagine a Vice President of this country can’t tell you how the leak took place…they could have easily said to Chronicle don’t carry this because it’s going to destroy the career of officers.”
Turning his attention to the COI Chairman, a former Assistant Commissioner of Police, Paul Slowe, the Opposition leader drew reference to a weekly column penned by veteran Journalist and Editor-in-Chief, Adam Harris, who in an article on Sunday noted that “Paul Slowe had an axe to grind with the PPP Government and Paul Slow is acting on the basis of a vendetta.”
Jagdeo told reporters assembled at Freedom House that had President Granger been serious about an investigation into the alleged plot against him, “he should not have appointed a Paul Slowe to head it, because Paul Slow has bad blood with many people in there, he is an aggrieved party as Adam Harris himself on Sunday (last) pointed out.”
Jagdeo posited that Slowe had in fact served on the coalition’s campaign team in the last general Elections held in May 2015.
“He was put there to do a hatchet job on the leadership of the police force, destroying professionalism,” Jagdeo said.
“This is pure witch-hunt at its best and if we sit quietly and allow this to happen professionalism in the police force will be destroyed,” said Jagdeo as he drew reference to the silence of the many non-governmental organizations “that used to be so vigilant about professionalism in the Police Force.”
The Paul Slowe chaired Commission of Inquiry was ordered by President Granger after an East Bank Demerara man, Andriff Gillard reported to the Police that his friend and neighbour Nizam Khan offered him $7M to assassinate the President.
The state newspaper, under the direct responsibility of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, has since reported that the report recommends that substantive Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud, should be forced to resign or be removed if he refused.
That report was recently handed over the President and is yet to be deliberated on by the Cabinet Council of Ministers but has already found its way into the public domain through articles published by the Guyana Chronicle lambasting the leadership of the Guyana Police Force.
Among the recommendations in that report, as reported by the State media, “The Commission recommends that Commissioner Seelall Persaud should be made to resign his position as Commissioner of Police for the Guyana Police Force, under such terms and conditions that His Excellency considers appropriate. Failing which, proceedings should be initiated in accordance with Article 225 on the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana to have him removed from office for misbehaviour.”
According to the excerpts of the leaked COI report, the Commission also found that Commissioner Persaud acted improperly when he instructed Inspector Prem Narine to send Nizam Khan on bail on the night of March 29.
It was also recommended that Persaud be investigated for perjury in relation to his statement where he said that he was not aware of the allegations until after 16:00hrs on March 29. On the contrary, Assistant Commissioner Clifton Hicken told the CoI that he reported the incident to Persaud at round 10:00hrs on same day.
Assistant Police Commissioner David Ramnarine was acting as Police Commissioner when the allegation was leveled and told the CoI that he felt a proper investigation was not conducted. The report has since recommended that sanctions be imposed against him for his failure to ensure that a proper investigation conducted.
In relation to Crime Chief, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum, Slowe recommends that he be replaced for poor leadership and questioned his role in the success in solving crimes under his watch.
“… Blanhum should be replaced as crime chief and reassigned in order to gain command experience,” the report instructed.
Additionally, Slowe further recommended that Blanhum’s Deputy, Senior Superintendent Rishi Dass, be disciplined for neglect of duty for failing to ensure that the correct date of the allegation made by Andriff Gillard.
“The Commission recommends that he should be replaced as the Deputy Crime Chief. His efficacy in the CID also comes into question, and therefore, he should be removed from that department,” the leaked report said.