Jan 28, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Jermaine Figueira, has filed a lawsuit against Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, Kaieteur News and Guyana Times Newspaper claiming in excess of $50M each for libel.
The lawsuit is in response to articles published about his alleged involvement in a pigpen expansion project under the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme.
The articles claimed that Figueira collected over $5M for the project but never completed it.
However, the Opposition MP had denied the claims. He had informed that the monies were collected by his twin brother, Jemaine Figueira, instead. He promised to sue the media and Minister Hamilton for peddling the misinformation.
As such, Figueira outlined in the lawsuit that he is seeking, among other things, in excess of $50M from each of the three parties for the defamatory and libelous statements published to impugn his character.
The Opposition MP cited the articles and a letter, which was published by the Kaieteur News and the Guyana Times Newspaper. He noted that the media outlets and the Minister, who is the source of the ‘misinformation,’ intended to use the stories to tarnish his reputation.
In addition to his claims for millions in damages, Figueira also seeks a retraction, a statement apology for the articles and statements published.
Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton was quoted by several sections of the media as saying that Figueira’s association, the Green Jaguar Environmental and Community Development Co-operative Society, was handed the funds in 2019 to construct the pigpens, which are part of a pig-rearing project for the Wisroc community in Linden.
It is one of the many community projects funded under the SLED programme in 2019. The groups receiving project funding are required to be registered as Co-operative Societies before any disbursement is made. But Figueira’s company was never officially registered.
In fact, Hamilton said that the documents that were submitted by his “co-operative society” failed to meet the criteria. He said too, that even though Figueira submitted an application to be registered, it was still pending when the funds were disbursed. To date, the co-operative society has not been registered by the Department of Co-operatives.
The Minister also highlighted that the pig-rearing project was being executed on private lands. Kaieteur News understands that the Minister even visited the area, where he got a first-hand view of how the moneys collected were being utilized. It was during this time that the official discovered that the project is incomplete.
However, on Saturday via a Facebook post, Figueira responded to Hamilton’s disclosures where he called them “wild, irresponsible and callous.” The young politician claimed that Hamilton’s utterances were intended to tarnish his reputation and gain “cheap political points.”
He also denied receiving any money, saying, “I take this opportunity to publicly state and make it absolutely clear, that, I, Jermaine Figueira, Member of Parliament for Region Ten, has never been the recipient of any disbursement of monies from the sustainable livelihood and entrepreneurial development (SLED) programme in 2019 or any other year for that matter.”
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