“Is this Baghdad?”
This was the question posed by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley on Tuesday night after learning the murder toll had reached 20 in seven days.
Rowley said there was lawlessness throughout the country because the people in high office—namely the Prime Minister and Attorney General themselves—have not answered questions with respect to alleged criminal conduct.
He was speaking at the Sangre Grande Civic Centre where he held a campaign meeting for the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) leadership election in March.
Noting Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s position to hold the National Security Council personally accountable for the crime in the country, Rowley said the very members of the council have failed to co-operate with the police in the “emailgate” probe.
In May 2013, Rowley revealed a series of e-mails purportedly between the Prime Minister, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Works Minister Suruj Rambachan and then National Security adviser to the Prime Minister, Gary Griffith.
The e-mails alleged these high office-holders were conspiring to harm a journalist, plant electronic spy devices in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), offer the DPP a judgeship, and accept payment from an unnamed woman in exchange for the freedom of people involved in the Section 34 fiasco in September 2012.
Rowley noted to date, the investigation was ongoing in this matter by a Police Service headed by an acting Commissioner of Police whose tenure has to be extended every six months.
He said the people of this country have no way of knowing whether these allegations were true or not.
“The Prime Minister and her Government have absolutely no moral authority whatsoever to talk to anybody of this country about crime,” he said.
Corruption, he said, was pervasive throughout the Government as ministers were now boasting about who had the most money and giving million-dollar Range Rovers as gifts.
He said the People’s Partnership promised to deal with crime when they entered office, yet despite spending more money in the history of this country, the murders continue.
Rowley added the security measures put in place under the PNM were all dismantled by this Government.
He slammed the decisions taken by the Government to deal with crime as he drew attention to the controversy when Reshmi Ramnarine was placed as head of the Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) and a number of persons employed in the agency who were deemed to be PNM were fired.
Rowley said the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT) was dismantled and the blimp was sold as scrap.
He said while crime spiralled out of control, there was “musical chairs” with the portfolio of Minister of National Security, with four ministers in this position—Brigadier John Sandy, Jack Warner, Emmanuel George and now, Gary Griffith.
Rowley criticised Griffith’s position on rising crime, saying: “I want to say, Mr Griffith, if you have nothing sensible to say, shut your mouth.”
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