– tears down Cheddi Jagan Research Centre sign board
The circumstances surrounding the occupation and use of “Red House” took a premature
turn yesterday when staff members of the Ministry of the Presidency attempted to establish possession of the building before the final date of its occupation by the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Incorporated (CJRCI).
On Thursday evening a statement from the Ministry was released saying that President David Granger had ordered the revocation of the lease which allowed the company to occupy the lot 65, 66 and 67 High Street Kingston property. The company was given until the end of today to vacate the property.
However, according to People’s Progressive Party Civic Member, Indra Chandarpal, during an ad hoc press briefing at the location, she left the building around: 1400hrs and on her return met two men blocking her entrance at the gate.
“When I came and tried to get in, they said ‘no you can’t go in; so I said you can’t stop me,’ so I pushed my way and I got in but my vehicle was left outside. Then when I came to see what was going on inside, I saw the staff (CJRCI staff), they were busy, and they were unaware of what was happening.”
Chandarpal said that the men told her that they were there to take over the building. She then informed them that based on information disseminated Thursday evening; the company had until midnight tonight to vacate the premises.
After informing the men about the arrangement concerning the revocation of the lease they told Chandarpal that they were acting on instructions. She said that when the men were asked from whom they received the order, she saw “Ministry of the Presidency” printed on their shirts. In addition, Chandarpal said she recognised some of the men from the Ministry.
“They said they were carrying out instructions; that they got instructions that nobody must come in and nothing must leave. So I started to quarrel with them and asked how is it nothing can leave, this place has all the things that belong to the Jagan family and research centre. It doesn’t belong to the state. The building is state owned yes but nothing inside belongs to the state.”
According to Chandarpal, the men told her that Minister of State Joseph Harmon told them not to allow anyone to leave the building nor remove any of its contents.
She said that following the exchange of words, the men proceeded to padlock the building and then used a garbage bin to reach and remove the sign board on the western side of the building which read “The Cheddi Jagan Research Centre”.
According to PPP/C member and Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall, he and former Minister of Education Priya Manickchand who is also an attorney, filed legal proceedings in the Civil Jurisdiction of the High Court challenging the alleged revocation of the lease.
“We sought certain conservatory orders or injunctions restraining the Attorney-General and every other officer of the state and or government from evicting, ejecting or in any way interfering with the peaceful and quiet occupation and possession of this building and this premises by the Cheddi Jagan Research Institute.”
Nandlall said that his team also filed an order restraining all officers of the state from interfering with or removing any artifacts, material, property or archival matter stored in the building.
The matter was heard before Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards. Nandlall said that the Chief Justice told the court that she prefers to hear the Attorney-General Basil Williams as well on the matter since the application was made Ex-Parte, in his absence.
He said that the hearing resumed at 15:00hrs yesterday and the AG made an appearance. According to Nandlall, Williams said two significant things which stood out.
“One, he said that the lease was cancelled several days ago, a while now, that is what he said, a while now; and that the property has been taken possession of several days now and therefore the court would be acting in vain in dealing with possession, because according to him, possession has already gone.”
Nandlall said he dispelled Williams’s statement on possession by informing the court that up to yesterday morning Mr. Hydar Ally who swore to the affidavits on behalf of the institute, accessed the building and removed documents to be used during the said court hearing.
He added that Williams’s statement contradicts the statement issued by the Ministry of the Presidency whereby the President instructed Minister Harmon to take steps to remove the occupants of the building by December 31, 2016.
According to former President Bharrat Jagdeo, the act to take possession of the building was done to validate Williams’s statement in court.
He said, “This is a heinous and reprehensible act on the part of this government. They have so many things to deal with in this country than to come and do what they did here today, to forcibly eject the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre from this building.
“To do this to Cheddi Jagan and his legacy is the height of indecency and callousness. This government will long be judged for this act it committed today.”
The matter is expected to be heard again in court on February 20, 2017.
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