‘Hit the road Jack’ – Nigel Hughes tells Jagdeo
November 10, 2011 | By KNews | Filed Under News
The song “Hit the road Jack” was made famous by the great American singer, Ray Charles, five decades ago.
Yesterday attorney Nigel Hughes found it to be the appropriate response to President Bharrat Jagdeo who has called him a racist.
Jagdeo, on Tuesday, used a campaign rally at Whim on the Corentyne Coast to call Hughes a racist. Yesterday, the attorney shot back.
“I believe His Excellency is familiar with the rest of the song,” Hughes said, referring to “Hit the road Jack.”
Jagdeo’s statement was in reference to revelations in the libel case he himself has brought against Kaieteur News columnist Freddie Kissoon, and the newspaper’s Publisher and Editor-in-Chief.
Jagdeo is suing for $10 million, claiming that a column by Kissoon suggests that he is a racist and that “by extension, the State and Government of Guyana, practice racism as an ideology, dogma, philosophy and policy.”
In this case, Jagdeo is the one who has called someone a racist, said Hughes, but as he is the President, he cannot be sued since he enjoys immunity from prosecution under the laws of Guyana.
The attorney noted, yesterday, that the cloak of immunity that the President now enjoys is rapidly deteriorating. He is to leave office after the November 28 general elections.
“You have a racist in Nigel Hughes…(who said in the court matter) that any Indian who accesses a high position in this country does so only because of their race…a racist!” Hughes quoted Jagdeo as saying at the Whim rally.
The attorney said that the statement against him was slanderous and was an unfounded allegation.
“No doubt with the pressure of his rapidly approaching involuntary retirement His Excellency’s recollection of the conduct of the case of B. Jagdeo V Citizen Kissoon must have been clouded by the rigors of the campaign,” Hughes stated.
He recalled that the libel case was filed on the advice of Jagdeo’s counsel “who used his considerable legal talent to secure an early hearing of the matter perilously close to the upcoming election.”
Hughes stated that the only witness called to the stand thus far is Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, who as a witness was the only person required to speak under oath.
“In the adversarial system, the defendant’s attorney is merely permitted to ask questions, the accuracy, integrity or otherwise of the responses is purely a matter of witness’ testimony,” Hughes stated.
No doubt, in reading the press reports of the responses provided by Head of the Presidential secretariat, Jagdeo assumed that the disclosures made by his witness could only be described as racist, Hughes surmised, adding “perhaps an accurate assessment of the policies which the witness was candid enough to reveal.”
“One can forgive His Excellency for coming to the conclusion that the answers given by his witness were racist but to attribute the responses of his own witness to Defence Counsel who merely asked the questions, is disturbing, unless of course His Excellency assumed that the commonality of heritage between the witness and Defence Counsel meant that they shared the same position on the issue of race,” Hughes quipped.
Hughes’ statement came two weeks after he was forced to make another statement in defense of comments made against him by the President at a Lusignan campaign rally.
“I (Jagdeo) appoint Senior Counsel…He will never be a Senior Counsel once I am President and I don’t know whether Donald Ramotar will ever give him because he is a drug dealers’ lawyer,” Jagdeo stated.
In response then, Hughes said that the fact that the current administration found it impossible to identify a single person of African descent qualified to “represent this country of ours at the level of Ambassador at any international posting is probably the most salient statement on the practice of racism in politics in contemporary Guyana.”
Hughes added that Jagdeo’s statement confirmed a long held belief in the profession that the conferral of the status of senior counsel by this present regime, is a political act.
Regarding his defence practice, Hughes said that the oath of lawyers obliges them to represent clients without fear or favour.
“…And I have had the privilege of representing an array of clients including Mrs Varshnie Jagdeo (the President’s ex-wife) over the course of my professional life. The categorization or classification of my clients has not been a concern of mine as I am not retained as a priest but as an Attorney at Law.”