Jun 25, 2021 News
– said former Chairman Patterson had authorized/commissioned external work
Kaieteur News – Former Legal Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Excellence Dazzell, is contesting People Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C)-appointed GECOM Commissioner Bibi Shadick‘s account of her resignation from the post.
Dazzell yesterday put out a detailed statement refuting the claims, after two newspapers and one online publication had published comments from the PPP/C commissioner that the former GECOM attorney’s resignation had to do with a breach of contract.
Shadick told reporters on Wednesday, that both Dazzell and GECOM’s Chief Accountant, Joseph Eastman, were found to be doing private work in their respective fields which is contrary to their contract arrangement with GECOM. Shadick said, while Eastman’s contract was not renewed because of the breach, Dazzell resigned before any action could be taken against her.
Her statements about the former GECOM employees were published by three news entities; the Guyana Times, Guyana Chronicle and online news outlet, News Room Guyana.
In response to the claims, Dazzell put out a detailed statement demanding a public apology and retraction for the “incorrect content” contained in the articles. In her statement, Dazzell provided copies of correspondence between herself and the Commission, and stressed that her resignation which was tendered earlier this month, was not due to any breach of contract, but owing to the fact that she had lost confidence in the Commission.
She said her resignation from the post of Legal Officer at GECOM, followed the accusations and a request for her outstanding annual leave. In her statement, Dazzell alluded a letter from the Chairperson of the Commission, Justice (RT’d) Claudette Singh, in which she was asked to show cause why the Commission should not take disciplinary action against her for allegedly breaching her contract.
The Chair’s letter outlined that the issue of her engagement in private practice was brought to the attention of the Commission by Commissioner, Shadick. Alluding to the schedules of her contract, Justice Singh in the letter reminded Dazzell, that in accordance with the arrangement, “you are not authorized to either directly or indirectly, be engaged or be concerned, with any other service or business whatsoever, or receive commissions or profits of any kind, except with the written permission of the commission.”
In a response to the Chair which was seen by this publication, Dazzell explained that she was given permission by the previous Chairman (RT’d) Justice James Patterson. The former legal officer claimed too, that the issue of her practice only came up because of a previous disagreement between herself and Shadick.
Further, contrary to what was reported by Commissioner Shadick, Dazzell said it was “the Commission’s conduct” that led to her proclamation of a loss of confidence in the Commission, and consequently her notice of resignation, made on June 4, 2021. Among the breaches in conduct by officers of the Commission, the former legal officer claimed there was a breach within the line of authority.
According to her, while her contract of employment states that she is to act, in all respects, according to the instructions of, and directions given by the Commission through the Chief Election Officer, when she went on board the Commission, she was told to report directly to the Chairman, James Patterson.
“I questioned this line of authority based on my contract, and even highlighted this fact on the agency’s organogram. Notwithstanding my queries, I was told that I am to report to the Chairman….” Dazzell said in her correspondence.
Added to this, Dazzell said that approximately one month after she commenced her employment with the Commission, she was to appear in court for the decision in a private matter, and asked the Chairman if she may attend. She said that she informed Justice Patterson that she needed a letter to do so, as per her contract, and he provided it. But after that, she said Patterson himself had some matters that were not GECOM-related that he wished to be attended to, one of which was before the Land Court for a Church.
She said that he requested that she do the matter, but when she asked him for a letter as was done previously, he said that it was not necessary.
According to the lawyer “When I showed up in Court, I saw Commissioner Shadick and she saw me. This was someday in February 2019, approximately two years ago. To my mind, the Commissioner’s conduct of saying or doing nothing gave credence to the Chairman’s words: that it was not necessary.”
Dazzell claimed that was not the only time that she was asked to conduct private business on behalf of Justice Patterson. She also referenced a matter in which he wanted her to assist in the purchase of property but she did not complete that case.
As such, the former legal officer said that in her view, based on the conduct of the Commission, “the contract of employment is but a formality, and the real contract is evinced by the behaviour of the Commission; which behaviour implied the permission of my doing other legal work apart from that of the agency.”
Additionally she said, “I have also found during my tenure at the Commission, that to maintain an apolitical posture, as is required by the said contract, is to suffer discrimination, abuse/victimization and intimidation in various forms by the Commission.”
Further, the lawyer said that in her view, the Commission has failed in its duty and consequently did not enjoy her trust and confidence. As a result her resignation was tendered.
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