“Significant lapse in professionalism at the high levels of the Guyana Police Force”- Granger

Last Updated on Friday, 8 September 2017, 17:48 by Denis Chabrol

Retired Assistant Police Commissioner, Paul Slowe presenting his Commission of Inquiry Report on the alleged assassination plot to President David Granger.

Even as government prepares to replace expired Police and Public Service Commissions, President David Granger on Friday said that the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the alleged assassination plot against him has exposed serious deficiencies and weaknesses in the Guyana Police Force (GPF), which would have to be corrected.

While making it clear that the COI was not meant to be a witch-hunt, the Head of State said that work has to be done to ensure that the law enforcement agency is more professional and efficient in the execution of its duties and responsibilities.

Speaking to media operatives on the sidelines of the Launch of the Demerara-Mahaica (Region Four) Regional Agricultural and Commercial Exhibition (RACE) at the Ramada Princess Hotel, the President said that while Cabinet has not deliberated on the contents of the report as yet, its findings point to some critical areas, which will need to be addressed as part of security sector reform.

[The Commission] made some very strong recommendations. Even persons who have been following the day-to-day reports would have realised that there has been a significant lapse in professionalism at the high levels of the Guyana Police Force, so these are matters of concern.

It has brought to light some serious deficiencies and I am very confident that the work that Mr. Russell Combe is doing will point to ways in which we can correct the deficiencies. The important thing is to ensure that we get information so that we can correct fault. It is not a witch-hunt. We are trying to make the law enforcement agencies more efficient,” he said.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said a preliminary reading of the report “points to certain areas which require reform in the Guyana Police Force and which will be the subject of some comment by the British Advisor on Security Sector Reform in Guyana.” He said after Cabinet considers the report, government would make a public statement and release the report.

The Commission of Inquiry into how effective the Guyana Police Force had probed an allegation by Andriff Guillard’s allegation that one Nizam Khan had in June 2015 offered him GYD$6 to GYD$7 million to kill President Granger has  exposed a number of issues. They include the less than satisfactory professional relationship between substantive Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud and  Assistant Commissioner (Administration), David Ramnarine; Persaud’s request while on leave that his friend, Imran Khan, be released on his own recognisance because he did not have the GYD$10,000 to post station bail. The Police Legal Adviser, Retired Justice of Appeal Claudette Singh has said the evidence provided to her was very weak for her to have recommended  a charge of incitement to commit murder.

Head of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Guyana Police Force, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum has told the Inquiry that Guillard’s allegation against Khan was inherently incredible. He has also raised concerns that Guillard had reported the alleged plot on March 28, 2017.

Mr. Combe is a British security expert, who is an Advisor to President Granger as part of the United Kingdom’s Security Sector Reform (SSR) Programme.

In April this year, an allegation was made that there was a plot to assassinate His Excellency, President David Granger. Questions were later raised about the investigative approach employed by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and on June 30, 2017, Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon announced that in keeping with Section Two of the Commission of Inquiry Act, the President had ordered an Inquiry into the allegation, to be headed by retired Assistant Police Commissioner, Mr. Paul Slowe.

Section Two of the Act states: “The President may issue a Commission appointing one or more commissioners and authorising such commissioner or commissioners to inquire into any matter in which an inquiry would, in the opinion of the President, be in the public welfare.”

On Thursday, the Minister of State said steps have begun to appoint new Police and Public Service Commissions which expired in August. “We have actually put in place the arrangements to facilitate that process. It requires, of course, some nominees to be made by the government and there are others which have to come through the Parliamentary Committee process so that memberships on these commissions are dealt with in accordance with our constitution,” he said.

Weeks before the Police Service Commission had expired, President Granger had advised that it put on hold planned promotions that had been recommended by the Guyana Police Force.

That moved had sparked off concerns about the constitutionality of Granger’s request since Guyana’s Constitution states prohibits anyone from instructing the Commission how to carry out its duties. “