It is amazing how people across the political divide see issues and how fast they apportion blame. Last week I shared a microphone for an interview with former Attorney General Anil Nandlall. It was intended to be a conversion on the law and politics.
It turned out to be more of a political campaign with the perceived ills of the government taking centre stage. And indeed, that is what politicians should be doing at this time; getting their issues across. It is about making their respective political parties look good.
One issue came across rather forcefully and it centered on the Guyana Police Force. For starters, there was the Crum-Ewing issue. Courtney Crum-Ewing was shot dead in Diamond in 2015 while he was out campaigning against the then government.
He had staged a one-man picketing exercise for days outside the office of the then Attorney General. In the end, the then Attorney General Anil Nandlall was fingered in the killing.
Rajput Narine, the ex-bodyguard of Nandlall was also taken into custody and questioned but was released without being charged. The former Attorney General in his statement said he hired Rajput Narine as his bodyguard on March 15 which was five days after the Crum-Ewing murder.
He said just after Crum-Ewing’s execution he travelled to the U.S for a political meeting and it was there that he met the brother of Rajput Narine and the man recommended that he hired Rajput as a personal bodyguard.
At the time, Rajput Narine was in the employ of the Guyana Revenue Authority. Nandlall said he hired the man without carrying out any background checks and without seeking other recommendations. He said the fact that the man was a licensed firearm holder, meant he must have been of good character and that was enough for him.
“I assumed that he was a person of good character because that is why he had a firearm license and that’s the ground on which one gets a firearm licensed,” Nandlall said.
But there was the view that Narine was closely associated with former Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj who was closely linked to the death squad that caused terror in Guyana. The widely held view was that people closely associated with the then ruling party got guns at the drop of a hat.
Last week, Nandlall revealed that the police found a phone that made the last call to Crum-Ewing. They traced the phone to Lethem, got the name of the owner of the phone but nothing came of that aspect of the investigation.
He could not explain why this happened especially since he was the prime legal adviser to the government. He could have called the Commissioner of Police or the Home Affairs Minister and get the investigation to continue or at least to disclose the information of the phone. That never happened.
Nandlall now wants the present administration to hold a commission of inquiry to investigate Crum-Ewing’s killing and the findings of the phone probe.
Another issue he was asked about was the perception of corruption in his government. He repeated what was said a lot since the 2015 elections. He insisted that it was a perception that was never addressed because his government was certain about retaining office.
The view was that people who had precious little suddenly became multi-millionaires and owned multiple properties.
Nandlall was asked whether the perception was real and could he explain the untold wealth. He didn’t try to defend this situation, choosing instead to direct all such questions to the people fingered in the query.
Today the party in government is said to be corrupt although there is nothing specific about the nature of the corruption. That is the nature of politics.
On the issue of the Special Organised Crime Unit which he helped form, Nandlall insisted that corruption had crept into that organization. The police force was not exempt from such charges.
The country knows that there are corrupt police ranks. Many have been exposed and dealt with but corruption still remains in the force. The roadblocks and the random stop and searches were highlighted by Nandlall.
He said that the ranks would unhesitatingly demand money from those they stopped and that this was an inherited practice from an even earlier government. What he could not explain was why it was allowed to continue during his party’s twenty-three years in office.
His was the job to highlight what the present government is failing to do regardless of whether the problems were inherited and he did a good job.
He highlighted the anti-people measures adopted during the tenure of the government. They included the hike in taxes for the farmers in the Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary Agricultural Development Authority.
Nandlall said that he represented these farmers most of whom were perceived to be supporters of the present government. He spoke of the imposition of additional hardships on the people of the lower strata in society, all imposed by the government.
In his book, this government is among the most inept, stumbling from ineptitude to ineptitude. And these charges would stick with any of Nandlall’s followers. The government for its part seems to be losing the propaganda war.
The opposition is using every forum at its disposal to get its message across to whoever is listening. The government says precious little, probably preferring to do what it believes is improving the lives of the people. It believes that action speaks louder than words.
If that is the case, it surely does not know Guyanese, a people of very short-memory.
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