T&T police service commission head `not resigning’ over controversial remarks

(Trinidad Guardian) Chairman of the Police Service Commission Nizam Mohammed says he is not about to resign in the wake of public calls for him to do so. “I am not going anywhere…The work of the commission continues and I intend to carry on with my work,” he said. Mohammed broke his silence during an interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, 24-hours after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said his future would be determined by President George Maxwell Richards. Both Persad-Bissessar and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley met separately with President Richards on Tuesday in the wake of Mohammed controversial statement about an ethnic imbalance in the T&T Police Service.

Persad-Bissessar insisted that Mohammed was reckless and was seeking to divide the nation by his remarks. But Mohammed said he did not share that view. He suggested that his critics should ask the chairman of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament (JSC) if he was being reckless, adding that he would not have been allowed to be reckless at such a meeting. He said: “I was not reckless and irresponsible,” as was being claimed by the PM. Mohammed said he got a copy of Hansard (official record of what he said) and he cannot see how he was being reckless. He said he had not seen the newspaper reports of the meeting.

“I cannot see how people could conclude that I was reckless after reading my comments,” he added.
Mohammed said the controversy had not affected the operations of the commission “in the least.”
He said if yesterday was not a public holiday, the commission would have met, but the next meeting was likely to be set for next week. Mohammed said on Monday he met with Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs and ACP Fitzroy Fredericks. According to the former House Speaker, the meeting was “warm and cordial.” He said the matter was discussed and “they fully understood my concerns…The meeting was held without any malice to anyone.” Rowley, who had objected to Mohammed’s appointment, said he was confident that President Richards would act and revoke the Police Service Commission chairman’s appointment.

Controversy brews

Friday, March 25: Mohammed raises the issue of ethnic imbalance in the hierarchy of the Police Service at a meeting with the Joint Select Committee. Sunday March 26: ACP Fitzroy Fredericks condemns Mohammed for his comment, saying he should be removed as Police Service Commission chairman; Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs said he did not agree with Mohammed’s claim that the composition of the Police Service did not reflect the society.

Sunday March 27: Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj criticises Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for not taking immediate action to have Mohammed’s appointment revoked. Monday March 28: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar issues a statement describing Mohammed statement as reckless and divisive. She said it did not represent the view of her People’s Partnership Government. Tuesday March 29: President George Maxwell Richards meets separately with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.

Persad-Bissessar told reporters that Mohammed’s future was in the hands of President Richards, while Rowley said after the meeting that he was confident the President would revoke Mohammed’s appointment for his irresponsible behaviour in office. Wednesday March 30 (yesterday): Mohammed, in his first public comment on the controversy, said he was not about to resign. He said the work of the commission continues. He said he could not understand how people could claim that he was being reckless. He said he met with the Commissioner of Police and ACP Fitzroy Fredericks and “they fully understand.”

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