Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan yesterday sought to dispel suspicions of a move to get rid of Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum, whom he called a “serious pillar” of the Guyana Police Force, while praising his performance.
Blanhum, who heads the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), is presently on 90 days of accumulated leave and is expected to return to office in December.
Blanhum’s leave closely followed President David Granger’s declaration that the recently-concluded Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the alleged assassination plot against him had exposed serious deficiencies and weaknesses in the Guyana Police Force.
Granger had also declared that he thought it was “unacceptable” to come to conclusions about the alleged plot before the completion of the investigation. “I think it is completely unacceptable for any public official to deem the allegation or the intention of the plot to assassinate the president of any country as being inherently incredible …that a person who [was] appointed to conduct an investigation, before completing the investigation to come to such conclusions,” he said, in an apparent reference to Blanhum’s testimony before the CoI, in which he had called the allegations of the assassination plot “inherently incredible.”
Blanhum was responding to the question of how he viewed the allegations made by Andriff Gillard, who claimed he was offered $7 million by his neighbour, Nizam Khan, to carry out the assassination. “I would say with the greatest amount of respect, it is my humble opinion that the allegation made by Gillard against Khan is inherently incredible,” Blanhum had stated.
Due to the proximity of the president’s criticism and Blanhum proceeding on leave, speculation arose that he had been sent on leave because of the findings of the inquiry. However, Ramjattan was keen to dispel this notion yesterday.
“I notice a lot of people are saying that we are trying to get rid of Blanhum. Blanhum is a serious pillar in this police force… understand that and he has done a fantastic job in the opinion of the government, in the opinion of the minister,” Ramjattan told a press conference at the Alliance For Change (AFC) headquarters yesterday. He explained that prior to 2015, Blanhum had accumulated in excess of 100 days of leave and requested earlier in the year, since May or June, to proceed on some of that leave.
The minister further explained that while the request was approved, Blanhum was unable to proceed on leave because of situations that required his presence. “All that is complete and he’s now on leave,” he added, while noting that he needs Blanhum back at the helm of the CID for the Christmas season, when there is usually a spike in crime.