Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 March 2017, 19:54 by Denis Chabrol
by Gary Eleazar
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, and the members of the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) in Parliament, has lodged a report of ‘death threats’ made against him, the party members and their families, with the Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud.
The threat was purportedly issued by Executive Member, of the State Asset Recovery Unit (SARU) of the Ministry of the Presidency, Eric Phillips. But Phillips has already said that his position on Facebook was in response to several telephone threats he had received since Jagdeo and others were recently questioned by SOCU investigators. “Over the last few days I have received threatening phone calls while others call and say nothing. This is directly linked to Former president Jagdeo’s purposeful use of my name, especially in Berbice, to incite race into his problems with SOCU (Special Organised Crime Unit) of which I am not a member,” said Phillips.
The 32 PPP/C Members of Parliament (MPs) are being represented by Former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, and are calling criminal charges to be instituted against Phillips.
The Former AG in a letter dispatched to the Police Commissioner, Persaud, dated March 14, 2017—a copy of which was seen by Demerara Waves—reported that Phillips made the threat in a post on a social media platform on March 10, 2017 against former President Jagdeo and the other members of the PPP along with their families.
According to Nandlall, “…my clients and their respective families are now at the risk of being killed or suffering grievous bodily harm.”
Nandlall in his report, drew reference to the fact that the SARU employee posted “…Jagdeo need to be careful because if anyone in my family or SOCU or SARA’s families are killed or attacked or placed at risk because of this purposeful racist…he needs to understand that he, his cabinet and their families (bar none) will be at the same risk…the only difference is that the response will be significantly disproportionate and very cruel.”
Informing the Police Commissioner he has been instructed to act on behalf of the Opposition Leader and the other members of the PPP MPs and their families, the Attorney said SARU currently has no law enforcement powers “but purports to act as a law enforcement agency.”
According to Nandlall, the outfit is in fact located in the Ministry of the Presidency and “comprises “leading politicians in the Coalition Government.”
He said SARU officials are in the habit of making public pronouncements in the local media, “of investigations which they are conducting; they make outlandish findings of guilt of Ministers and top public servants of the former government without any due process whatsoever…”
He points to allegations of widespread corruption and thievery from the coffers, leveled against the PPP officials without a ‘scintilla of evidence’ and is in fact operating unlawfully.
The former AG in lodging the police report with the Commissioner of Police has also pointed to the activities of the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) which he said has effectively been hijacked.
Nandlall is of the view that SOCU has departed from its original mandate and is in fact being used by SARU, “and the political directorate, to investigate concocted allegations of criminality allegedly committed by the former President and now Opposition Leader, his former Cabinet and the Opposition Members of Parliament.”
According to Nandlall in his letter to the Police Commissioner, “in the circumstances, please consider this correspondence as a formal report for and on behalf of my clients who are requesting that you launch and immediate and thorough investigation into this publication (Phillips’ post) and form criminal charges to be instituted as soon as possible, if necessary.”
Nandlall’s missive to the Commissioner of Police has been copied to numerous international bodies such as the Secretary Generals of the United Nations, the Organisation of American States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in addition to Head of State David Granger, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan and the Director of Public Prosecutions among other embassies that Guyana shares ties.
Jagdeo on Tuesday had met with media operatives at his party’s Freedom House, Robb Street Headquarters and had called Phillips a political hack when raised the issue of the death threats.