Ogunseye says refusing to cooperate with police

Last Updated on Monday, 3 April 2023, 14:48 by Denis Chabrol

Tacuma Ogunseye

Just out of police lockups on a charge of racial hostility, Working People’s Alliance (WPA) executive member Tacuma Ogunseye on Monday said he has not been questioned by police about other offences and vowed to continue refusing to cooperate with police.

Shortly after GY$100,000 bail was posted for him at the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court, the veteran political activist said investigators have not questioned him about any other offences contrary to what the prosecution told Magistrate Fabayo Azore and a wanted bulletin stated on Thursday. “Even if they question me, I’m on civil disobedience. I’m not cooperating,” he told Demerara Waves Online News shortly after he was unshackled by police.

Concerning the charge of attempting to excite racial hostility or ill will under on the grounds of race, Contrary to Section 2(3) of the Racial Hostility Act, he said ultimately the court would have to decider but he did not believe that his utterance breached any law. “The State doesn’t have any real case against me. I think they’re just clutching at straws. I have been in public life for over half a century and speaking on numerous public meetings throughout the years and I think I understand the parameters of public discourse and I try my best to stick within those parameters,” he said.  Particulars of the offence are that on March 9,2023 on the East Coast Demerara, Mr Ogunseye allegedly attempted to excite racial hostility and ill will to a section of the public by words spoke by him.

He restated the WPA’ position that there was “systematic oppression” of the African Guyanese community by the largely Indo-Guaynese backed People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton speaking with Mr Tacuma Ogunseye’s Defence Lawyer, Nigel Hughes. Also present was Attorney-at-Law Darren Wade (centre).

Meanwhile Opposition Leader and Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton, who was at the Vigilance Magistrates’ Court to lend solidarity to Mr Ogunseye and had spoken on the WPA’s platform when the allegedly offending words were uttered, said he supported his position. “The critical issue with Ogunseye, and I have said it before: I didn’t agree with his choice of language but I approve of his message. His message is there is widespread discrimination in this society  and that is what the government needs tiodeal with,” he told reporters.

Mr Norton cited the recent award of agriculture contracts to a group of predominantly East Indians and one Afro-Guyanese, an indicator he said was that the government was discriminatory in practice.

The Opposition Leader said the charging of Mr Ogunseye amounted to a “misuse of the law” as part of an overall plot to instill fear and induce stress with the aim of becoming increasingly repressive and authoritarian. He accused the government of politicising the Guyana Police Force to carry out a witch-hunt and intimidate opponents.

The Irfaan Ali-led administration has accused Mr Ogunseye of sedition, inciting violence, treason and advocating the overthrow of the administration by urging the predominantly Afro-Guyanese police and defence forces to turn their guns away from Afro-Guyanese should they come on the streets in large numbers to wage a struggle against racial discrimination.

Government continues to maintain that it is not discriminating against Afro-Guyanese, amid domestic concerns about discrimination and calls by several United States congressmen for inclusivity and wealth sharing to the benefit of all Guyanese.