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Former President and Leader of the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R), David Granger has accused the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government of demoralizing the Guyana Police Force.
“Look what they are doing to the police. Thy are demoralising the Guyana Police Force, the main public security agency,” the former President said during his weekly “Public Interest” show on Friday.
Granger, at the time, was referencing to the case in which nine (9) retired and current senior police officers were charged with conspiracy to defraud the Guyana Police Force of $10M, among them, the sitting Chairman of the Police Service Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of Police (Ret’d) Paule Slowe and Police Service Commissioner, Clinton Conway, who is also a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police.
The former President said one is left to wonder, who is next? “They are going after retirees,” the PNC/R Leader said as he expressed his disgust. “It is a witch hunt, it is purge,” he added.
Weighing in on the issue, Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan who served as Minister of Public Security between 2015 and 2020, said it is clear that the PPP/C is on a massive witch hunt.
“This is a witch hunt of epic proportions, which will come back to haunt the PPP. They seem not to understand this security sector at all,” Ramjattan said while appearing alongside Leader of the Opposition Joseph Harmon on a television programme called Facing the Nation.
Ramjattan submitted that the attacks are intended to remove Slowe and Conway from the Police Service Commission, which, as part of its constitutional function, is responsible for the promotion of senior members of the Guyana Police Force, in addition to addressing disciplinary matters.
On Thursday, Assistant Superintendent Krishnadat Ramana told the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court that Slowe along with Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, Clinton Conway, Retired Assistant Commissioner, Claude Whittaker; former Senior Superintendent George Fraser; and former Senior Superintendent, Mark Gilbert received $10M to facilitate a review of the Guyana Police Force’s Standing Orders, though the Orders were reviewed by the Strategic Planning Unit of the Guyana Police Force between July 2018 and March 2019.
But Ramjattan said it was the sitting Commissioner of Police, Leslie James, who had approached the five police experts to review the Force’s Standing Orders, which were in need of updating. According to Ramjattan, there is nothing criminal or illegal about the arrangement.
He said it is clear that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) it abusing its powers to remove the Slowe and Conway from the Police Service Commission, in an order to replace them with individuals who are aligned with the PPP/C. “So we want it to be understood that Paul Slowe is a true professional; and Clinton Conway brought a lot of intellectualism [to the Guyana Police Force],” Ramjattan said while noting that the retired senior police officers had indicated that they
were not interested in being financially compensated, however, they were offered a stipend to facilitate the review of the Standing Orders.
On Friday, Slowe, through his Attorney Selwyn Pieters, rubbished the allegations leveled against him.
“The allegations of conspiracy to defraud is false. Work was done on the Standing Orders,” Slowe said while stating that the allegations are intended to tarnished his good name and reputation.
Slowe, who served as an officer of the law for 37 years, explained that there was no timeline in which the review was expected to be completed. He explained that though work had commenced on the review, the General and Regional Elections, held on March 2, 2020, had caused the process to be suspended. The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic had further compounded the situation.
“In the lead up to the elections, the location in which meetings were held became unavailable due to use by the Guyana Police Force for elections purposes. Further, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. The Election Situation in Guyana which was resolved in August 2020 and the compounding COVID19 pandemic, made meetings to deal with finalization of the Standing Orders not feasible,” Slowe explained through his attorney.
Further, it was noted that as the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Slowe had other constitutional duties to attend to, including overseas meetings. He was also accused of sexual assault but Slowe said there is no merit to the allegation.
Pieters, in a statement, said Slowe is presumed innocent and will be pleading not guilty to the charges made against him.
“His criminal lawyers will be vigorously defending this matter and look forward to the truth coming out in a court of law,” Pieters assured.
He has linked the allegations to disciplinary actions taken against certain members of the force by the Police Service Commission, signaling that legal actions will be taken against those who have defamed his character.
“Because of the inflammatory manner in which the Guyana Police Force Corporate Communications Unit is peddling these false allegations the public’s record must be set straight and also, to protect the character and careers of Mr. Slowe, members of the Police Service Commission and Senior Police Officers, whose image the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) and Corporate Communications Unit seeks to besmirch for collateral purposes having to do with disciplinary matters at the Police Services Commission involving several Senior Superintendents and the promotions of Senior Police Officers that has occupied the Court since January 2021. Mr. Slowe also intends to vindicate his reputation from the defamation that is being peddled,” Pieters said. Though Slowe was charged on Thursday, he was not present in court, as at the time, he was out of the jurisdiction.