Counsel for former Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) Roxanne Myers, whose name has come up several times in witness testimonies at the 2020 elections Commission of Inquiry (CoI), is seeking to cross-examine said witnesses.
Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes of Hughes, Fields and Stoby, confirmed in an interview with this publication that he wrote to the CoI.
Hughes is representing Myers at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts on various electoral fraud related charges.
“I wrote enquiring whether I would be allowed to cross-examine the witnesses, on behalf of one of my clients,” Hughes said, adding that the letter was sent on Monday and he has so far not received a response. While this publication was unable to reach CoI Secretary Javed Shadick, he was quoted in sections of the media indicating that the commission will soon respond.
Meanwhile, Hughes was asked if Myers herself would be taking the stand during the CoI’s public hearings. The commission has been vocal in calling for persons who have been implicated in testimony to come forward and testify. According to Hughes, he is unaware of any such plan and was moreover doubtful that Myers would be testifying.
The CoI was last held on November 10. The CoI took a break following the testimonies of several witnesses and is expected to resume its work from November 28 and continue until the middle of December.
The November 10 hearing, heard testimony from Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Chief Executive Officer Sase Singh, who was a scrutineer during that period and Information Technology (IT) Manager Aneal Giddings.
Singh told the commission that he was a supernumerary agent for the PPP/C and on March 4, 2020, after former Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo took ill and had to be escorted from the Region Four Command Centre at the Ashmins Building by medical officials, the then Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield provided two new Deputy Returning Officers (DROs) to continue the verification process.
However, Singh recalled that there was a “fundamental difference” with the process after the two GECOM officials were using pre-prepared spreadsheets and not the SoPs, as was done prior, to verify the votes. He said that Lowenfield had explained that this new method would add efficiency to the process.
He disclosed that he had no idea what was on the spreadsheets, how they were prepared, by whom, using which data and when. Despite objections by the agents from the various political parties, Singh said the GECOM officials continued using the spreadsheets to reconcile their figures with that of the SoPs in possession of the party agents and observers present.
Copies of these SoPs are given to agents of political parties and accredited observers at the polling station after votes are counted. The stakeholders then use their copies to verify figures being used by the Returning Officers to ascertain the votes from each district.
During this verification process, however, stakeholders continuously observed discrepancies between the figures being called out from the spreadsheets and those contained in 17 out of 21 SoPs verified. According to Singh, this led to loud outbursts and objections by the party agents, resulting in CEO Lowenfield intervening.
He noted that while Lowenfield did not enquire from the DROs where the figures on the spreadsheets were derived from, he did conduct an exercise with a sample of three SoPs from the 21 and reverted to the original procedure during which the discrepancies with the spreadsheet numbers were confirmed.
Giddings recalled that on March 5, 2020, at about 10:45h, he and his staff in the Tabulation Centre, which is separate from the area where the District Four votes were being reconciled, were informed that there was a bomb threat to the building and that they should evacuate.
The Manager said they immediately complied with the exception of his deputy, who remained to back-up the data they had compiled thus far on a flash drive after which he also left.
Other persons who testified on previous days include Assistant Police Commissioner and former Divisional Commander for Region Four, Edgar Thomas; Chief Elections Officer Vishnu Persaud and Ronald Stewart, who was in charge of security for GECOM during that fateful period.