SOCU taking orders from Ministers- Jagdeo

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…says Commissioner of Police out of the loop
…Govt developing a pattern of attack

It seems as though there is a nexus connecting the Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, SC, and the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) while the Police Commissioner is being left out of the loop.

This is according to Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Monday afternoon, during a press conference held shortly after the release of Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall from the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) after he was brought in for questioning in relation to missing Commonwealth Law Books at the Legal Affairs Ministry.

(L) Former AG Anil Nandlall, Opposition Leader Dr Bharat Jagdeo and PPP Parliamentarian Priya Manickchand

“We have established a nexus between Ramjattan, Basil Williams and SOCU, it seems as though the Commissioner of Police- under whose authority SOCU was established to go after organised crime- is out of the loop now [and] that the line of communication is not to the Commissioner of Police but to the Ministers,” he told media operatives.

Jagdeo posited that the action to have Nandlall questioned with regards to a matter that was long resolved is a vindictive act by Government with the intention of intimidating the former Attorney General.

“Any right thinking Guyanese [would be able to know that] this action today on the part of SOCU was designed to intimidate Anil Nandall, to get him to back off from his justified criticism of this government. He’s a prolific writer and he has consistently exposed this Attorney General we have.”

The Former President further lambasted SOCU, highlighting his belief that the Unit was not acting in accordance to the reason they were established, but instead are going after PPP officials.

“Apart from the fact that SOCU now seems to be operating under directions of some Ministers of Government, we have established already that SOCU is not going to go after money launders or big organised crime but it’s a Unit that will go after members of the PPP” Jagdeo posited.

Moreover, Jagdeo stated that “they say they have over 300 cases at SOCU to be investigated [yet] This case is the case that becomes the priority of SOCU and as Nandlall pointed out, they probably don’t even have a mandate to investigate this issue. These law books, from what I gather now, could be purchased for GYD$400,000 or US$2000 and that becomes the big act of corruption that this government is pursuing when they had claimed that PPP members stole over $305B.”

The Opposition Leader lamented on the patterns that he has been seeing by the incumbent Administration.

“A pattern is developing. Ramjattan threatened to have[former] Ministers and others arrested… this is before the investigation concluded on the Pradoville issue and before it had gone to the DPP for advice, but [weeks later] SOCU, true to the public pronouncements of Ramjattan went ahead and made arrests.”

“Now after Nandlall had exposed Basil Williams’, as he pointed out, disgraceful behaviour where he [Williams] threatened to kill a judge- this is an Attorney General who should be in the lockup-…, he then gives an explanation that a child would not find credible and part of his explanation was to say Nandall is a thief and [he’ll] lock him [Nandlall] up for the law books and if Ramotar feels he has immunity I can lock him up too.”

“Suddenly we see now, a couple weeks later, true to the pattern that SOCU has been following, Nandlall has been called in for questioning on the law books, a matter that had been in the public domain for over 2 years” Jagdeo posited.

The Opposition Leader said that his party members will not succumb to the acts of intimidation by the Government Ministers and will continue to expose them “wherever and whenever.”

Shameful attempt to muzzle

Former Minister, Priya Manickchand also stood in solidarity with Jagdeo’s declarations that SOCU’s actions were simply to scare PPP members, especially Nandlall, against speaking out about Government’s failures.

Manickchand was one the attorneys-at-law with Nandlall at the time of his questioning at SOCU on Monday.

“What happened today is a disgraceful and shameful attempt to muzzle PPP’s shadow Minister of Legal Affairs [and] Attorney General. It’s not going to work, as you see we’re not muzzled, we’re sitting right here, letting you know what happened,” she told media operatives.

She sought to criticise the Government, highlighting that in their two years in power, they have developed a habit of attempting to target and muzzle those who they cannot control.

“Two years into the Government’s tenure, we don’t even need to say this anymore, we invite you to pay attention to the way they’re managing the country. Every time they get into trouble, which is practically every day, they’re unable to get the economy moving, they are receiving criticisms after criticisms from just about every group that exists…they use legitimate arms of the state that should really be used to better the lives and situation of Guyana to target and muzzle political opponents.”

The Former Minister charged that no one should continue to take this administration seriously until they deal with the many corruptions on their plates.

“I invite you to take them seriously when they deal with the scholarships that they have given away to their Ministers and friends and families… when they take the drug bond scandal seriously and ask SOCU and SARU to investigate those… when they address the 600 and something million dollars we spent on drug purchases which have not reached this country or its citizens as yet without going through our procedures laid down by law” Manickchand declared.

“They are not serious. What they want to do is shut us up,” she said.

Nandlall during the briefing reiterated his contention that that the books were part of his service during his tenure as the Attorney General, an assertion that was corroborated by former President Donald Ramotar.

He noted that an audit had be launched into the matter but it was absolved by the Auditor General in the presence of the Attorney General.

Nandlall has previously explained that when he was appointed Attorney General, he requested as part of his contract of service for the Government of Guyana to stand the expense for his subscriptions for the Commonwealth Law Books. He had subscribed to Lexis Nexis, the publishers of the Law reports.

He said the issue of the “missing books” was raised months later, after he had begun criticising Williams’s work. “He said to me in the National Assembly one day that unless I stopped my public criticism of him, he would make this allegation about missing law books, and I said to him, ‘Go ahead’.”

Nandlall subsequently sued Williams for $125 million in compensation for the “considerable distress, anxiety and public humiliation” he reportedly faced by the utterances from Williams in relation to the missing law books.

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