Attorney General Anil Nandlal has maintained that there is nothing illegal about the Guyana Police Force’s detention of Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, and urged persons in A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) to be responsible and stop fanning the flames of civil disobedience.
Nandlall made this statement on Sunday, on the heels of protests at Belladrum, West Coast Berbice, which saw APNU/AFC supporters braving the risk of COVID-19 to light tires and protest for Mingo’s release. But according to Nandlall, Mingo has at all times been in the lawful custody of the police.
“Mr Mingo was held pursuant to an investigation being conducted by the police into allegations of fraud committed at GECOM, from March 2 and the events thereafter. The whole world saw that. It was transmitted on national television,” Nandlall explained.
“The international and local community demand that a probe be held and this matter be investigated fully. The State’s apparatus was activated and the police, being the investigative arm of the State, commenced their investigation.”
The Attorney General reminded that when Mingo was arrested, his attorney-at-law, Darren Wade, challenged his detention by filing habeas corpus proceedings, that is proceedings seeking to free Mingo on the basis that his detention was unlawful. However, Wade was eventually forced to withdraw his case on the advice of acting Chief Justice Rishi Persaud.
“The application for habeas corpus was premature and misconceived. The lawyer recognised that and they withdrew from the proceedings. Then there was an application for an extension of time of that 72 hours. And that was granted to a period of 24 hours. That 24 hours expired yesterday, but before the expiration of that 24 hours, four new charges were filed against Mingo by the police,” Nandlall explained.
Nandlall recalled that another habeas corpus challenge was filed by Mingo’s lawyer, heard by the constitutional court and dismissed. The AG pointed out that when the court heard the new challenge, it was made clear that Mingo was being kept in custody in relation to the new charges. Nandlall, therefore, slammed incoming Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon for encouraging the protests by his claims that Mingo is being unlawfully detained.
“There was nothing unlawful and there is nothing unlawful with the police keeping him in custody until he is taken to a Magistrate tomorrow (today), where those charges will be read and where he will be put before the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court,” he said.
“Mr Harmon is a lawyer. One would expect he would know these basic elementary principles of law. So, Mr Harmon’s contention that Mr Mingo is being unlawfully detained is completely preposterous and must be rejected out of hand.”
In a subsequent statement, Nandlall questioned the lengths Harmon and APNU/AFC was going to interfere in the delivery of justice. The AG pointed out that both GECOM and the Guyana Police Force were independent agencies, which should be allowed to function free from the intimidatory tactics of APNU/AFC.
“That Mr Mingo’s lawyers happen to be two APNU candidates and that known APNU candidates and activists are mobilizing persons to block the road at Belladrum – all lend to the thickening of the conspiracy,” Nandlall also said in his statement.
According to Nandlall, the assertions of APNU/AFC that Mingo’s constitutional rights are being violated expose the fact that they “have no real cards left in the pack to play.”
Nandlall asserted that APNU/AFC’s agitation is inspired by a fear of Mingo giving up the intellectual authors of the attempts to defraud the country.
Mingo and several other election officials were taken into custody over the past week as Police investigate allegations of electoral fraud. He is accused of attempting to alter the results of the election in favour of the APNU/AFC coalition by using concocted figures during the tabulation of votes for Region Four – the country’s largest voting district.