President George Maxwell Richards got it right, attorney Dana Seetahal SC said yesterday.
She said she always felt the President had the power to remove Nizam Mohammed because he became not fit by virtue of his comments to the Joint Select Committee of Parliament, in which he raised the issue of an ethnic imbalance in the police service, pledging to address the issue.
"I say that for the same reason I am sure that the President made the decision (to revoke his appointment as chairman of the Police Service Commission) eventually."
Seetahal said Mohammed's statement showed that he was not responsible because it suggested several things:
1) that persons in Trinidad and Tobago of East Indian origin would not want to make complaints to the police because there was a predominance of African police officers, whether at the upper echelons or not. There was not a scintilla of evidence that people of one racial origin would not report crime to people of another race.
"That suggestion could have caused a serious divide in the country. And this is why I say he showed a lack of responsibility in the performance of his duties," she said.
2) Mohammed also suggested that the ethnic imbalance was caused by "some other reason"—that promotions were not done on the basis of merit and that this (imbalance) would change once there was promotion on the basis of merit.
"That, I find, was objectionable because he has no basis for suggesting that past promotions were not done on merit," Seetahal added.
Added to this, she said, were the statements made by Mohammed about his fellow commissioners in an interview published in last Friday's Express, which showed a "degree of paranoia, which I find inappropriate and not acceptable from the head of the PSC".
In the interview, Mohammed accused his fellow commissioners who had distanced themselves from his statements, of ganging up on him, "stabbing" him in the back and described their reaction as "alarming and distasteful".
"So putting all of those things together, he (Mohammed) acted in a manner that was not responsible and responsible to the eventual functioning of the entire commission. So that is why the President would have made the determination that he failed to perform his duties in a responsible manner," Seetahal said.
She added that the remit of the PSC did not include any of the matters referred to in Mohammed's impugned statement—the tackling of the imbalance with the help of Parliament and that the PSC members had taken an oath to address these matters. Under the Constitution Amendment Act 2006 which governs the PSC, the PSC is charged with appointing the commissioner of police and deputy commissioners, removing them, monitoring their efficiency and hearing appeals to disciplinary actions of the commissioner and deputy commissioners.
Also contacted yesterday, outgoing Law Association president Martin Daly said he was pleased that the President had been decisive. He said the President had clearly identified the area of the constitutional powers under which he has acted.
"This is a maturing experience for the country and I hope the remaining Police Service commissioners will take note of the high level of responsibility the country requires of them. My advice to them is to carry out the function tirelessly and without thin skins or get out of office," he said.