May 22, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Christopher Jones has moved to the High Court in a bid to have the appointment of Acting Commissioner of Police Clifton Hicken overturned.
The case drafted by attorneys Roysdale Forde and Selwyn Pieters lists Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, and the Acting Commissioner of Police, Hicken, as respondents.
Jones has, inter alia, asked that the Court grants a declaration that Hicken’s appointment as the acting Commissioner of Police is unreasonable, ultra vires the Constitution, Common Law and is illegal, null, void and of no legal effect.
Specifically, Jones requested that the Court grant a declaration that the appointment violates article 211 (1) and 211(2) of the Constitution.
He has also asked for a declaration that the decision to appoint Hicken as acting Commissioner of Police violates the process as required and contemplated by the Constitution for the consultation between the President and the Leader of the Opposition.
Jones wants the court to issue an Order or ask Mr. Hicken to show under what authority he is exercising and/or discharging the functions of the office of Commissioner of Police in an acting capacity or any capacity whatsoever.
Additionally, Jones who is also the Chief Whip for the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition asked the Court to grant an order quashing Hicken’s appointment as acting Commissioner of Police.
On the grounds of his application, Jones noted that President Irfaan Ali’s decision to invoke the doctrine of necessity to appoint Hicken as acting Commissioner of Police is therefore unlawful and unconstitutional.
According to Jones, the qualification to perform the duties of Commissioner of Police is the next most senior officer and that person should be Deputy Police Commissioner, Paul Williams.
“That is the convention that exists at the time to ensure that the Guyana Police Force continues to function with someone at the helm,” Jones said.
In his affidavit, Jones recalled that the then substantive Police Commissioner, Leslie James, proceeded on preretirement leave on July 31, 2020 and Deputy Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie acted as Police Commissioner from June 1, 2018. As such, he noted that the natural course of succession should continue.
President Ali, on assuming office on August 2, 2020, failed to consult with then Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon, until he and his party recognise the government. Jones said that in or around August 8, 2021, the term of the Police Service Commission (PSC) ended, but had been suspended before. The constitutionality of the suspension is still before the court.
He explained that, “Shortly thereafter, and in private, the President of Guyana, His Excellency Mohamed Irfaan Ali illegally and unconstitutionally appointed a Commissioner of Police, in the name of Mr. Clifton Hicken. His Excellency Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of Guyana, appointed Mr. Hicken as acting Commissioner of Police without any requisite consultation.”
The Opposition MP, therefore, contends that President Ali and then Leader of the Opposition Harmon were required between August 2, 2020 and January 20, 2022, when there was a Chairman of the PSC and an Opposition Leader, to meaningfully consult on the matter.
He claimed that there was refusal to “meaningfully consult” with the Leader of the Opposition between August 3, 2020 and January 26, 2022 on vacancies in several constitutional offices.
Jones noted that, “the insistence that the Opposition must ‘recognise’ the government before any consultation or meeting could take place has had a meaningful impact on how the exercise of the purported necessity has to be evaluated and analysed.”
Additionally, the APNU+AFC MP pointed out that, “There has been no publication in the Official Gazette or any other published legal document which attests to or substantively proves that Mr. Hicken the ‘appointed’ acting Commissioner of Police is in fact legally in office.”
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