The Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the alleged plot to assassinate President David Granger is a waste of taxpayer dollars and may be part of a wider plan to demoralise senior policemen and sully their careers, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo charged on Friday.
“It (the inquiry) has implications for who takes over the force in the future…Reputations will be destroyed here”, he told reporters during a press conference at his Church Street office.
Jagdeo, a former President, described the alleged assignation plot as a “trivial” matter and said that inquiring into how the police handled it could have been done differently. He expressed his disagreement with Commissioner of the CoI, Paul Slowe being allowed to question senior officers of the force.
Earlier this month Slowe, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police was sworn in to lead the inquiry into an alleged assassination plot and the police force’s handling of the investigation.
Businessman, Andriff Gillard told police on March 29, that he was hired to kill the president and he subsequently expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which investigators handled his report. He was the first person to take the stand when the inquiry began two weeks ago and since then it has been revealed that Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud who was on leave at the time ordered the release of the main suspect and his brother the very day the allegation was made. It was subsequently said that the early release of the suspect compromised the probe. Persaud is slated to take the stand sometime this week. Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum, Acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine, reporter Travis Chase and several senior investigators have already appeared.
Jagdeo said that the inquiry is being held at a time when the country is facing the most serious threat to law and order in its history; the destruction of the Camp Street Prison and the escape of several prisoners.
“…government has seen it fit at this point in time when you have a number of prisoners who have escaped, when the safety and security of the prisons are in question, to launch a Commission of Inquiry into a plot to assassinate the President”, he said.
Jagdeo while describing Slowe as a “relatively junior policeman” at the time of his retirement said that a simple instruction to the Commissioner of Police to conduct a proper investigation could have resolved the matter.
“Now if the concern was that there was not an adequate investigation into the matter and that it was not treated seriously, all the president had to do was to get the Head of the Presidential Secretariat to call in the people to the office and say we are not satisfied that serious attention has been given to this matter”, he said, adding that a thorough investigation followed by the delivery of a comprehensive report was all that would be needed in the circumstances.
“That would have had the matter addressed comprehensively, seriously, allayed all the fears and we would not have had to spend millions of dollars on it”, he stressed.
Jagdeo insisted that this inquiry will destroy the morale of policemen who are the very ones who have to search for the escaped prisoners.
“What they are doing in this public process is going to destroy the entire morale of the police force, the same people who will now have to go out and apprehend these prisoners”, he said before expressing the view that it can lead to ranks being suppressed by those in authority from executing their duties.
“And so it is a charade. It is not necessary at this time. It will destroy the morale of the police force (and) we have bigger fish to fry at this point in time and I hope it will come to an end shortly”, he said.
“Why this charade if it is not to humiliate the people or is it a more sinister plan to affect their further promotion?” he asked.