“I believe that in the instance of the Former President, alone, that an exemption could have been made.”
Those were the words of President, David Granger when asked by reporters for his view on the arrest and subsequent release of Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
Jagdeo was arrested by SOCU on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 in connection with the ongoing probe into lands acquired by himself, Former Ministers and close associates to his administration at ‘Pradoville 2’.
During his most recent recording of ‘The Public Interest’, President Granger said while he did not overrule the right of the Force to conduct an investigation, he did not feel that the personal arrest of the Former President was justified.
Granger affirmed that the decisions made by the arm of the police force did not follow a directive from his Government. However, he expressed his view that “he (Jagdeo) has been the President for 12 years, and I believe that if it was determined that his involvement in the matter under investigation did not warrant his going to the office, a decision could have been taken at the level of the Guyana Police Force.”
The Commander-in-Chief was further asked what other methods he proposed could have been used, to which he said: “it is my view that some other way could have been used to determine whether his presence at the Headquarters was necessary and that could have been done by the phone…”
Following the commencement of the ongoing investigation by SOCU, the Former President and Opposition Leader has claimed that it was ordered by the Government as a form of “witch-hunt”. However, Granger along with other Government officials have since denied such.
Former Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon was also arrested at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition on Church Street.
Pradoville 2 is a gated community located in Sparendaam on the East Coast of Demerara.
Investigations into the allocation of several acres of prime real estate land came to light during a wider probe of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA). During the CH&PA investigation, it was discovered that the beneficiaries grossly underpaid for the lots.
Also questioned over the course of last week were, the daughter of former President, Donald Ramotar, Lisaveta Ramotar, Private Sector Commission Executive, Ramesh Dookhoo, Former Ministers of Education, Housing, Labour, Home Affairs, Public Service and Natural Resources and the Environment.
Former Head of the Guyana Defence Force (G.D.F) Rear Admiral, Gary Best and Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Ali-Hack, both of whom acquired plots of land at Pradoville 2 were questioned on Friday.
However, only Former Natural Resources and the Environment Minister, Robert Persaud has since noted that he is prepared to settle the matter. Persaud said, should the Government “prove that the price paid for the plot of land was below market value, discussions can be entered into for a mutually acceptable resolution of the matter.”
Questioned whether this is a proposal the Government is willing to accept, President Ganger said: “settlement is up to the GPF which has a legal advisor.”