Legal action stalls removal of Cheddi Jagan Research Centre from Red House; Ministry of the Presidency workers rip down sign

Legal action stalls removal of Cheddi Jagan Research Centre from Red House; Ministry of the Presidency workers rip down sign

 
Ministry of the Presidency workers fetching away the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre's sign after pulling it down from the front of the building.

Ministry of the Presidency workers fetching away the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre’s sign after pulling it down from the front of the building.

Workers of the Ministry of the Presidency on Friday began stripping Red House of its identity as the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre, even as the High Court has blocked any government representative from entering or removing any item from the building.

Using a hammer, the workers clawed off the wooden sign stating Cheddi Jagan Research Centre from Red House, High Street, Kingston, Georgetown.  Red House is the former residence of then Premier and People’s Progressive Party (PPP) founder-leader, Dr. Cheddi Jagan.

Those moves followed an announcement by the Ministry of the Presidency that the lease has been revoked because it was allegedly improperly granted and that the Centre must remove from Red House by December 31, 2016.

DUMPED: The Cheddi Jagan Research Centre’s sign dumped at the southern side of the building by Ministry of the Presidency workers.

PPP Central Committee member, Indra Chandrapal said workers were inside the building packing up Jagan’s works and artifacts to vacate the premises in light of the announcement and pending legal action filed by former Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall.

She said the workers padlocked the gate and said they went to take over the building. “They said they got instructions that nobody must come in and nothing must leave,” she recounted to reporters.

Nandlall said the PPP has moved to the court to challenge the revocation of the lease and secured an order restraining the Attorney General, Basil Williams and every other officer of the State or government from evicting or any way interfering with the peaceful and quite occupation and possession of the building and removing any item whatsoever from the building.

After President David Granger announced the revocation of the lease of Red House to the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre, center volunteers and officials have begun packing up books and other material written by the PPP’s late Founder-Leader, Dr. Cheddi Jagan.

Nandlall said Williams argued that the court would be acting in vain because the lease was cancelled several days ago and the State has taken possession of the building over the same period. submissions Nandlall said he rejected before the Judge. “We did not get an order in relation to possession and I believe that is unnecessary because we have never departed from possession so we are maintaining possession of this building and we have an order protecting its content and we believe  that is sufficient to protect the status quo.” Nandlall said.

The matter comes up again on February 20, 2017 to allow the Attorney General to file an answer within 14 days and time for Nandlall to respond.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said the Ministry of the Presidency workers entered the compound and pulled down the Cheddi Jagan Research Institute to demonstrate that the State has already taken possession. “Obviously having misled the court by claiming that they were in possession, they had to show up here this afternoon to take possession by force and that is what they sought to do,” Jagdeo said.

A report was made to the police who turned up and interviewed workers of the Ministry of the Presidency who retreated to the opposite side of High Street while the small truck remained parked just outside Red House.

The Ministry of the Presidency said the National Trust would be relocated from the Valerie Rodway Building immediately south-east of State House to Red House.

The Ministry of the Presidency eventually hopes to create a super-complex by annexing the Valerie Rodway Building and the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology to State House.

The removal of the museum has since been shelved following an outcry by experts and staff , and Amerindian village leaders

Original Post

Red House outrage

 

– Govt flouts court order, rips down sign

…Jagdeo, PPP condemn actions

BY: DEVINA SAMAROO

Workers of the Ministry of the Presidency hammered down the hallmark sign of the Red House even though a court order has blocked officers of the State from entering or removing any artefacts from the premises/building.
A major commotion erupted outside of Red House, Kingston, on Friday afternoon as the workmen stripped the building of its identity and barred the gates to the premises even though Government had given the occupants up to today to vacate the property.

Efforts being made to restore the sign
Efforts being made to restore the sign

Members of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) rushed to the scene to defend the legacy of former President Dr Cheddi Jagan, where a standoff between the Government workers ensued. Police were also summoned to the scene.
The workmen attempted to transport the wooden sign bearing the words “Cheddi Jagan Research Centre” but fierce opposition from the PPP members and stewards of the Red House prevented them from completing the task they were ordered to do by the Government.
The men eventually drove off in a canter and the PPP members worked together with others on the scene to re-hoist the sign onto the building.

Injunction
President David Granger’s order to revoke the lease for the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre was on Friday afternoon successfully challenged by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall on behalf of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Incorporated (CJRCI) – the organisation with oversight of the activities of Red House.
The court documents seen by Guyana Times ordered all items, property and artefacts stored at Red House not to be interfered with or removed until further ordered. The ruling was handed down by Chief Justice (AG) Yonette Cummings-Edwards and the matter will be heard again on February 20, 2017.
Attorney General Basil Williams and Commissioner of Lands and Surveys Doorga Persaud, listed as defendants, were granted leave to file an Affidavit in Answer within 21 days. The CJRCI, the applicant, will then have to file an Affidavit in Reply within 14 days.

Revocation
Granger on Thursday announced that the Red House lease will be revoked, based on advice from his Attorney General that the agreement is invalid.
Williams had argued that lease held by the CJRCI is invalid on several grounds, including that there is no evidence that the President of the day had sanctioned it.
Questioned on this detail, former President Bharrat Jagdeo during a news conference on Friday contended that the Attorney General’s assertion is nothing but “nonsense” and that he “does not know what he’s talking about.”

The Red House sign that was ripped down by Government officers
The Red House sign that was ripped down by Government officers

Jagdeo highlighted that in all his years as Head of State, he never once signed a lease agreement between the Government of Guyana and the lessee.
Nonetheless, Granger ordered that the occupants of Red House vacate the premises by today as he has plans to house the Guyana National Trust, its staff, stores and equipment in that building – which is the former home of Dr Cheddi Jagan and is associated with his life’s work and legacy.

Negotiations
The Research Centre was established in 1999 to promote research into and publish materials on the life, work and ideas of Dr Jagan.
The prime land on which Red House sits was leased to the CJRCI for 999 years for $12,000 per year.
The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change coalition Administration was initially adverse to the small fee being charged and had started engaging the directors of the Research Centre on the possibility of transforming the Red House into a hub for all former Presidents.
The Management Committee, which included former President Donald Ramotar, strongly objected to this move, and told the Government to find independent sites for the establishment of similar research centres for the other Guyanese leaders.
Particularly, Ramotar posited that former Presidents Desmond Hoyte and Forbes Burnham never shared the same ideology and philosophy of Dr Jagan and therefore, it would be a total dishonour for Red House to be converted into a depository for all past Presidents.
According to the documents, the CJRCI Management Committee had proposed to pay a higher lease but Government never responded to the offer.
The documents explained that the AG undertook to convey the proposals to his principals and provide feedback but this never materialised.
It outlined that the next official word from Government regarding the issue was the announcement in the media that the lease will be revoked.

Acting in vain
But reports indicate that Government had already revoked the lease agreement several days ago.
Attorney Nandlall said the AG told the Court on Friday afternoon that the lease was “revoked several days ago” and that Government had already taken possession of Red House; therefore, the Court will be acting in vain.

Nonetheless, among the reliefs sought in the proceedings are a declaration that the lease to CJRCI is valid, binding and in force; and a declaration that the revocation or threatened revocation of the said lease is unlawful, illegal, contrary to and in breach of CJRCI’s fundamental right not to be deprived of its property that is, its 999 years lease hold-interests as guaranteed by article 142 of the Constitution; damages for breach of contract and breach of constitutional rights.
CJCRI is seeking in excess of $1 million for breach of Government’s lease agreement.

Crass and vulgar
Meanwhile, the move by the APNU/AFC Government has been described as the most crass and vulgar act of the authoritarian Administration.
These developments have sparked immense public outrage, with countless Guyanese condemning the Government for its unjustifiable attack on the legacy of Dr Jagan – who significantly contributed to the struggle for a free, independent and democratic Guyana.
The Opposition Leader, who was on site when the standoff with Government officers occurred, expressed that these attacks against Dr Jagan and his legacy is the height of indecency and callousness of the Government.
“This is heinous, reprehensible act on the part of this Government. They have so many things to deal with in this country than to come and do what they did here today (Friday) to forcibly eject the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre from this building,” Jagdeo said

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