Enmore/Hope NDC computers seized by SARU still not returned – NDC Chairman

Enmore/Hope Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) Chairman Mark Mahase says that the computers which were seized by the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU) would’ve been put to use by now, if they had been returned.

Mahase spoke to Stabroek News last week and confirmed that the computers have not been returned to the NDC and he is unsure of what is happening to them.

“Me can’t imagine is what happening. Them computers it nothing thief or anything. The computers come through legal means through the NDC, and at the time they weren’t being used, but we had plans to put them into use but they carry it away. We would’ve had them being used by now,” Mahase said.

On April 6, 2017, a press release from the People’s Progressive Party had stated that around 2pm on the same day, a group of men who identified themselves as officials from SARU, entered the NDC’s office in the company of Deochan Singh, an APNU+AFC councillor and removed several desktop computers and eight backup power-packs “without the permission of the NDC or the Community Resource Centre.”

The equipment had been donated to the NDC by the Caribbean Development Bank-funded Basic Needs Trust Fund to order to develop a Computer Resource Centre for the community.

However, CEO of SARU, Aubrey Heath-Retemyer, had explained that they had received a message from someone at the NDC stating 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 had said, while pointing out that the equipment was taken back to the E-Governance headquarters where they planned to figure out a course of action for what to do with the equipment.

Subsequently, after the seizure, the NDC sued the top officials of SARU and the Attorney General for over $5 million in damages.

The NDC were seeking damages in excess of $1 million for trespass committed on April 6, 2017, at the NDC’s Office, and in excess of $1 million for the unlawful seizure and confiscation of the computer systems with backup power packs, all the property of the NDC.

Further, the NDC were seeking damages in excess of $1 million for the conversion of a quantity of desktop systems and power packs, and aggravated and exemplary damages were also being sought in excess of $1 million.

The NDC was also hoping for an order directing the defendants – SARU Head, Dr Clive Thomas and Heath-Retemyer – to return the computer systems along with the power packs to the NDC, or to pay the NDC for the value thereof.

However, several months after, the action filed against the state was thrown out by High Court Judge Priya Sewnarine-Beharry. She dismissed the action, noting that the applicant had failed to comply with case management conference orders which she would’ve set to be followed.

On September 21, the court set out its timetable, which specified the time by which certain documents were to be submitted to the court.

At an October 30 hearing, the court noted that there were no reasons/circumstances set out in the affidavit why it would have been impractical for it to enforce the timelines earlier agreed to by the parties.

The case management document shows that the respondent (the state) also failed to serve on the claimants certain documents in accordance with the timetable.

The court dismissed the case in accordance with part 25:04 (3) of the Civil Procedure Rules.

It provides, “If a party fails to comply with a timetable, the case management judge may, on his or her own initiative or on an application by any other party, (a) stay the party’s proceeding; (b) dismiss the party’s proceeding or strike out the party’s Defence; (c) award costs against a party; or (d) make such other order as is just.”

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