Last Updated on Friday, 31 March 2023, 12:04 by Denis Chabrol
Working People’s Alliance (WPA) Executive Member Tacuma Ogunseye on Friday surrendered to police and was immediately cited for breaching Guyana’s Racial Hostility Act.
Except for a few WPA executive members, no members of the public, known People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) members or civil society activists were present outside the police department when he surrendered. The PNCR has not said anything publicly since the wanted bulletin was issued for Mr Ogunseye on Thursday.
Accompanied by lawyers Nigel Hughes and Darren Wade, 71-year old Mr Ogunseye entered the headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Vlissengen Road, Newtown, Georgetown at 10:28 AM
At 10:57 AM, he was shackled and escorted by detectives to a waiting unmarked police vehicle.
Mr Ogunseye was taken to the police force’s ‘A’ Division Headquarters on Brickdam, Georgetown.
Mr Hughes, who was also at the Divisional Headquarters, told Demerara Waves Online News that the fact that the suspect was taken to the Brickdam lockups indicated that he would remain in custody for 72 hours before he is charged.
The lawyer said offences under the Racial Hostility Act are bailable. He could not say how confident he was that Mr Ogunseye would be acquitted without seeing the particulars of the charge.
Before surrendering to police, Mr Ogunseye said the People’s Progressive Party Civic-led administration feared his utterances that Afro-Guyanese needed to defend themselves against racial discrimination. “The government is clearly upset and afraid of the WPA and my call for an African uprising on the 12th of June and Guyanese resistance,” he said.
The veteran WPA member accused the government of disrespecting WPA Co-Leader Dr Walter Rodney, who was assassinated on June 13, 1980. “They also eyes passed Walter Rodney. They chose the 12th to hold their fraudulent Local Government Elections and to celebrate their victory on June 13 which for us in the WPA is an abomination,” he said.
Seeking to dispel claims of hatred if East Indo-Guyanese, Mr Ogunseye said his struggle was for all Guyanese. “This struggle is a struggle for the African dignity and the dignity of working people of all races ” he said. He defended his stance as one aimed at countering government’s indecent efforts to crush the dignity of Guyanese. “We in the WPA see ourselves as defending the dignity of the country and defending the legacy of Walter Rodney and regardless what it is, I’m prepared to fight back,” he said.
Mr. Ogunseye’s remarks at a WPA public meeting in Buxton on March 9, 2023 has triggered a wave of condemnations from the government, private sector and sections of the religious community.
Attorney-at-Law Hughes advised Mr Ogunseye not to respond to questions concerning potential charges. After Mr Ogunseye surrendered and was booked in, Mr Hughes said police informed his client that he was arrested for violating the Racial Hostility Act.
Mr Hughes said he successfully convinced police to describe Mr Ogunseye as a male African instead of the initial description of Male Negro “which has now become offensive.”
The officer, according to Mr Hughes, could not say what were the other offences that Mr Ogunseye was wanted for, who would be heading the investigation. The lawyer asked to be present whenever the police wants to question him.