President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said that he does not see presidential guards moonlighting as an issue once they do not work for persons of a questionable character.
This was Jagdeo’s response to a question on the July 26 incident during which several presidential guards were arrested at Guyana Sandport Inc where they had gone to participate in the destruction of a conveyor system.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has since recommended that disciplinary charges be laid against the ten errant ranks who were arrested by police along with several civilians at the Coverden, East Bank Demerara facility.
Jagdeo told reporters at a press conference at the Office of the President that “I gather this is widespread practice… people say they do it on their own time, once they don’t do it with weapons that we issue”. He later said that this could also be problematic if “they work for people who are questionable characters because it could compromise our own security and it could be misinterpreted that somehow these people are protected by us because they are presidential guards”.
He later described the situation as “a delicate balance” adding that “frankly I don’t like it but everyone has a right to a second job if they want a second job in this country”. He confirmed to reporters that the ranks have been interdicted from duty.
Reference was made to the fact that according to the Police Act, moonlighting is not permitted but in response Jagdeo said “yes I guess but me frankly speaking I am more to people must be able to earn. I know the law and everything, if they want to earn honestly I don’t have a problem. If people do honest work then what is the problem with then trying to uplift themselves. It’s when they do it with questionable characters”.
Around 2 am, about 30 men, including the presidential guards armed with their guns, stormed the Lot 9 Coverden, East Bank Deme-rara facility. Members of the group reportedly assaulted two guards on duty. Police, later acting on a report, found several presidential guards manning the gates. The guards told the responding officers that they could leave, since they (the guards) were already handling the matter and had it under control.
Police, however, later arrested eight presidential guards and five civilians, while the others fled. Stabroek News was told that more presidential guards, who were recruited as enforcers, were involved in the incident. It is unclear whether any other presidential guard was implicated in the matter.
Co-owner of Guyana Sandport Inc. Rodrigo De Paula, who was among those arrested on site during the raid, later said the men were hired to “conduct a peaceful operation” to remove the conveyor system to prevent the illegal use of the wharf he had rented. He said he was clueless to the fact that they were presidential guards.
De Paula along with those arrested was released without charge after spending less than 72 hours in custody.
There is currently an ongoing court feud over ownership of the business.