Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud is to resume his duties today after spending approximately six months on leave, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan yesterday confirmed to Stabroek News.
Stabroek News was told that Persaud will serve up until his retirement, which is around May 1, 2018.
After spending four months on accumulated vacation leave, Persaud was scheduled to return in November. However, he was served with a directive to proceed on indefinite “special leave” in the public interest.
Ramjattan had explained to this newspaper that the letter informed Persaud to use up the remainder of his annualised leave before proceeding on pre-retirement leave.
Persaud had 42 days of annual leave and 14 days of pre-retirement leave, making it a total of 56 days. Prior to the letter, Persaud had proceeded on his accumulated annual leave in July.
“I am advised to inform you that in the public interest, and to allow for continuing initiatives and innovations being pursued by the Guyana Police Force’s temporary administration to be completed before your resumption of duty, it is the considered opinion of the Administration that you should be and you are hereby directed to proceed on special leave with effect from November 24, 2017 until further notice,” Ramjattan wrote in the letter to Persaud, which was dated November 23, 2017.
While Persaud was on leave, the force was being manned by Deputy Commissioner David Ramnarine. During the course of last week, Assistant Commissioner and Crime Chief, Paul Williams oversaw the force after Ramnarine left the jurisdiction on official duties.
Questions were raised by members of the public about Persaud’s fate in the force since the findings of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into an alleged assassination plot against the president recommended his removal from office.
The CoI concluded that Persaud’s ability to continue to hold the post had become “untenable” and recommended that he should be made to resign under terms considered appropriate by President David Granger, or if he failed to do so, be removed for misbehaviour.
The recommendation was made on the grounds that Persaud had interfered in the probe of the alleged assassination plot while he was on vacation leave and influenced the conduct of the investigations; acted improperly by instructing that the brother of the suspect be sent on bail, thereby bypassing the chain of command; failing to recuse himself from the matter although there was a conflict of interest; and failing to review the file on the matter.
It was also recommended that Persaud be investigated for perjury, as he had told the CoI that he first knew about the allegation after 4 pm on March 29, although Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifton Hicken, who was then ‘A’ Division Commander, claimed to have told him around 10 that morning.
The CoI, conducted by retired Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe, was set up to investigate the allegation made by complainant Andriff Gillard, who claimed that he was offered $7 million by businessman Nizam Khan to kill President Granger and the force’s handling of the probe.
Although the inquiry found that the allegations made by Gillard were “unsubstantiated,” and as a result “tenuous,” it was also concluded that the efforts made on the part of the police force were unsatisfactory.
It was recommended that the officers that played a key role in the investigation of the alleged plot be reassigned, possibly to positions outside of the police force based on their conduct. These officers included now deputy commander of ‘A’ Division and former crime chief Wendell Blanhum, Hicken and acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine, who the report stated “lack the professionalism to lead the Guyana Police Force.”
Government is yet to publicly state how it plans to deal with the recommendations which were submitted on August 31.