…Jagdeo reluctant to have official return for questioning
Former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh—accused of illegally spending billions from the treasury during the 2015/2016 prorogation of Parliament by then President, Donald Ramotar—has lawyered up in face of the increasing interest directed his way by the Guyana Police Force’s Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU).
Singh has since secured the services of his former Cabinet colleague, then Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall—a position communicated yesterday by Nandlall to the SOCU Chief.
According to an official missive dispatched by the law offices of Mohabir A. Nandlall & Associates and addressed to SOCU head, Lieutenant Colonel (rtd) Sidney James, “although my client is out of the jurisdiction, he always was and remains accessible, ready, able and willing to provide all, or any information at his disposal which your Unit may require.”
Recent media reports suggested that the SOCU outfit may be looking for Dr Singh, the then Finance Minister and NICIL (National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited) Chairman.
The SOCU outfit was also reportedly in search of the then NICIL Executive Director Winston Brassington.
Former President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday expressed hesitancy in supporting having the two men—both of whom are out of the jurisdiction—return to Guyana to be at the disposal of SOCU, since, according to Jagdeo, the body has become a political outfit.
At the time, Jagdeo told media operatives at his Church Street Office, “the thing is, that these people can’t be there, put their whole lives on hold because SOCU one morning, every time the opposition criticizes the government, will get a call from (Attorney General) Basil Williams or (Public Security Minister Khemraj (Ramjattan) or (Public Health Minister) Volda Lawrence to go after Ashni Singh or Nandlall for that day.”
According to the opposition leader, “That is how the SOCU is operating, they getting calls, regular calls from government (Minister).”
He has in fact suggested that the Commissioner of Police has been sidelined from command of the unit that is supposed to be under his purview.
“You hear ministers talking about who will get lock up, ministers have no line responsibility over SOCU…It comes through the Commissioner (of Police).”
Jagdeo posited that the entire outfit is being used by the political directorate to pursue a witch-hunt.
“It’s a pure witch hunt, SOCU has been converted into a PNC (Peoples National Congress) outfit to go after PPP officials, not drug dealers, not money launderers, not anyone else but to go after PPP people.”
The Opposition Leader was adamant his PPP party will, “continue to oppose the witch hunt.”
Meanwhile Jagdeo also used the occasion to throw his support behind, the former NICIL Executive Director, Brassington by pointing the questionable audit that was conducted by pro coalition supporter, Former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran.
According to the Former President, the witch hunt is simply
persisting and that the two identified victims for the weekend were Brassington and Dr Singh.
He used the occasion to draw reference to a public missive by Brassington in light of the media reports, “where he (Brassington) pointed out that he had responded, paragraph by paragraph to Goolsarran’s audit, if we can call it an audit because it’s more like a propaganda document.”
The former president suggested that an impartial editor would juxtapose Brassington’s response along with the actual audit findings presented by Goolsarran, “and then you will see how deficient his audit was.”
Jagdeo observed that given the history of the audit and how it was handled in the public domain, “that would be the only fair thing to do.”
The Opposition Leader reminded that the audit report was first leaked to the media before it was even turned over to the NICIL staff to provide a formal response after which there was a public handing over ceremony to the Police.
“Why would you need to publicly hand over an audit report to the police if it was not done only for propaganda value,” Jagdeo questioned.
Any politicians who mismanaged, embezzled, or knowingly overspend wrecklessly from the national treasury must pay the consequences. This goes to MP's from all political parties. I also believe in the laws that say a person is innocent until proven guilty. This is not the wild, wild west where we go hunting and killing people on assumptions.
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