The E-Governance Unit of the Ministry of the Presidency, accompanied by officers from the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU), yesterday seized 15 complete desktop computers from the Enmore Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), triggering condemnation from the opposition PPP.
It is unclear on what grounds the Unit seized the equipment and whether there had been any prior dialogue with the NDC. No statement was issued by the government on this yesterday and the E-Governance Unit could not be contacted.
A press release from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) said that around 2 PM, a group of men who identified themselves as officials from SARU, entered the East Coast Demerara NDC’s office in the company of Deochan Singh, an APNU+AFC councilor and removed the desktop computers and eight backup power-packs “without the permission of the NDC or the Community Resource Centre”. Singh could not be contacted for comment.
“These equipment are owned by the Community Resource Centre, a non-governmental organization, established by the residents of Enmore that uses these equipment to hold classes for young people in the community,” the statement said, while pointing out that the classes are held in the upper flat of the NDC building.
However, according to the CEO of SARU, Aubrey Heath-Retemyer, they received a message from someone from the NDC informing them that there was a plan to remove the equipment from the NDC.
“So when we got the information we told E-Governance and we escorted them to uplift the computers because there was nobody there who had real responsibility or could account for them,” Heath-Retemyer told Stabroek News last night, while pointing out that the equipment was all taken back to the E-Governance headquarters where they will figure out what’s the next course of action and what will be done with the equipment.
He stressed that the SARU officials only went to the NDC to accompany the E-Governance personnel. “The previous government evidently gave it to the community but nobody seemed to have had responsibility for them. There are several buildings that the PPP have issued computers (to) that are left unattended. When you give those things someone ought to sign for them and be responsible,” he added.
Heath-Retemyer also added that it wasn’t the first time that SARU officials were working together with E-Governance to retrieve equipment as they would’ve done so several times before.
“From time to time we get information that computers are left unattended in buildings and we retrieve them through E-Governance and they would’ve reissued them to whoever is prepared to sign for them and can use them,” he said.
The PPP release also said that when the acting chairman of the NDC attempted to intervene he was assaulted and a report of the incident was made to the Enmore Police Outpost.
“The PPP views this incident as another flagrant abuse of authority and another extreme authoritarian initiative of this Government, again using SARU, as a weapon against innocent citizens and their private property. Currently, SARU has absolutely no law enforcement powers”, the statement said.
The PPP charged that these abuses are taking place in broad daylight without the SARA (State Assets Recovery Agency) Bill being enacted. “One can only imagine the illegal rampages which will take place when this Bill assumes the force of law,” the statement said, while adding that the party was calling on the Commissioner of Police to launch a full investigation into the matter.
“The Enmore NDC and the Community Resource Centre has also been advised to launch civil proceedings against the State claiming monetary compensation for trespass, constitutional violations and deprivation of private property,” it said.