Outgoing Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud yesterday defended the decision he made in January to grant himself a gun dealership licence saying that he was following the precedent that his predecessors left behind.
“If you look historically you would see that over the last 25 years all the commissioners maybe with the exception of one granted themselves firearms licences so it is not anything new and you know we live in a society today where one set of circumstances is good for one person but not good for the other”, he told reporters while insisting that he had committed no wrong.
He was forced to revoke the approval by Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan who yesterday refused to speak to media operatives and later told a journalist to “haul yah ass”.
The State-owned Guyana Chronicle reported on the issue in yesterday’s edition, the same day of Persaud’s passing out parade. Persaud who served the Guyana Police Force for just over 34 years has been embroiled in controversy during the last few months. His conduct in the probe of an alleged plot to assassinate President David Granger came up at a Commission of Inquiry which concluded that his ability to continue to hold the post had become “untenable” and recommended that he should be made to resign under terms considered appropriate by the President, or if he failed to do so, be removed for misbehaviour.
Monday is Persaud’s last day in office.
According to the Guyana Chronicle report, Persaud in January applied to himself and granted approval for his business, Professional Outdoor Supplies, to be granted permission as a registered firearms dealer as well as being licensed to carry various calibre of weapons. The newspaper quoted from correspondence Persaud wrote to himself, the final one dated January 29, 2018 in which Persaud wrote that the application for the licence had been approved and that he had to make contact with the Assistant Commis-sioner Law Enforcement at the Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters, in connection with its issuance.
When quizzed about the matter after the passing out parade had ended, Persaud told reporters that given what has happened he will no longer be pursuing the gun dealership business which was to be his post-retirement job.
“Regarding the firearm dealership licence, in the 1980s there was a commissioner who granted himself (a) dealership licence so there is precedence. However I was discouraged to go along that line of business and so I wouldn’t pursue that”, he said.
Asked he doesn’t see anything wrong with what he has done he said “no there is precedent for it. It happened with all the commissioners. Something is wrong with this commissioner that …they tell the public that this is wrong?”…
Persaud admitted that he was instructed to revoke the licence but he did not say by whom. Reports are that the instruction was given by Ramjattan more than a week ago.
According to the outgoing commissioner, he applied for the dealership licence, close to his date of retirement, “because the business will only start when I retire, that would be during May”. Persaud said he did not find his actions unethical as there was a precedent and that he cannot own a business and be on the job.
“I said that is a business I can’t do business on the job so it will only be operationalized after I retire”, he stressed.
Ask how he feels about the revocation of the licence, he said “nothing. I am neutral. It doesn’t matter. It was one line of business I was contemplating and that wouldn’t happen any longer but I have a lot of experience, I have a lot of credibility. I am very confident in my next phase of life’. He declined to say what the next phase would entail.
The matter would not become one for the courts, as according to Persaud, he is comfortable for the time being and that the issue is not significant enough to be challenged. He could not say if he will reapply for such a licence.
“I don’t know that. I don’t think I will pursue that any longer. I have a lot of options”, he said.
Ramjattan, when approached declined to speak with the media. “No press conference please. I’m not dealing with any comments this afternoon”, he said.
When told that reporters were seeking a comment only on the revocation of the gun dealership licence, he responded “no no please no absolutely not. You seem not to have a time nor place apparently”.
Asked by a journalist why he was dodging the issue, he responded “I am not dodging no issue…Did I not talk to you and you got it on Demerarawaves”. When told that he also cursed on the call, he responded “yes there are times when I could use expletives….I am not going to …”
Asked if the applications came to his desk or through the firearm licensing process, he responded “man you could haul yah ass”.
Meanwhile, Ramjattan’s predecessor Clement Rohee in a social media post expressed his opposition to what Persaud had done.
“As regards issuing himself a license to be a firearm dealer that should have gone through the Firearm Licensing Approval Board located at the MOPS (Ministry of Public Security) for the Board’s as well as his subject Minister’s consideration. Just as it was done when I served in that capacity. In fact, his application for a private firearm license should have also gone through the Board as well in the interest of transparency and accountability. Better yet he should have had a word with the President and his subject minister on his intentions”, Rohee wrote.
According to Rohee, the question that he needs to be asked is how his predecessors got their own private gun licences. “Who knows whether he is just following precedent? If that is so why wasn’t the whole rather his story alone told?
Rohee noted that many innocent officers fell victim to the “cut throat, sneak dagger backstabbing” characteristic of the police force.
“Someone with political motives and who is bent on sending Persaud off under a cloud leaked the information exclusively to the Government owned Chronicle newspaper Note his letter of application is dated January 29, 2018 but was calculatedly released on the eve of his farewell parade no doubt with the aim of embarrassing and denigrating him”, he stressed.