Yet again the deception of Keith Rowley has been exposed for all to see. Thanks to a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj, citizens can now see for themselves the Police Service Commission (PolSC) Merit List, which was submitted in August of 2021 to Her Excellency President Paula-Mae Weeks and which then mysteriously vanished.
This is the same merit list that was alleged to have been “intercepted” by a “high ranking government official”, and of which no official explanation has ever been given for its deliberate suppression.
As a result of this FOIA, we now know that a letter dated 11 August 2021 containing four nominations for the substantive appointment of Commissioner of Police was submitted to Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes.
These nominations were
1. Mr Gary Griffith
2. Mr Jason Francis
3. Mr Andre Norton
4. Mrs Erla Harewood- Christopher
The FOIA also revealed that a letter dated 12 August 2021 was also submitted to Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes containing the following 2 nominees for acting appointment to the post of Commissioner of Police.
These Nominations were :
1. Mr Gary Griffith
2. Mr McDonald Jacob
It is clear that Mr Gary Griffith was the first choice by the PolSC to be appointed as Acting Commissioner of Police and also to be reappointed in his position as Commissioner of Police.
The nation should remember that facing public pressure with the collapse of the PolSC chaired by Bliss Seepersad, Keith Rowley confessed to having written to the PolSC complaining about then Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith in September of 2020.
That disturbing revelation coupled with the disclosure of nominees for the top CoP position on the August 2021 Merit List leaves us with a serious question: Did Keith Rowley violate the constitution and the law by deliberately sabotaging the selection of a Commissioner of Police out of his personal vendetta against Gary Griffith?
The fact that the current PolSC chaired by Justice Judith Jones has inexplicably decided to restart the selection for a CoP completely ignoring the Merit List of August 2021 only compounds the view that gross political interference from the Keith Rowley government has tainted this entire process.
The people of Trinidad and Tobago who are without a substantive Commissioner of Police demand answers to this serious issue, which not just raises questions over the independence of the T&T Police Service but also strikes at the heart of our democracy as well.
The Police Service Commission (PolSC) chaired by Justice Judith Jones needs to launch an immediate investigation as to why the Merit List submitted to Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes in August of 2021 was withdrawn and under whose instructions.
Further, this new Police Service Commission needs to make public their reasons for scrapping the August 2021 Merit List, what process and/or laws they followed in doing so, and the details of the legal advice suggesting that they should start the process afresh.
For the safety and well-being of all the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, we cannot allow Keith Rowley and the PNM to treat the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service as their private army.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition
25th January 2022