‘I did nothing wrong’ – Seelall on gun licences

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It should have been a day marked by celebration, but for Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud, it was not to be. His farewell parade was overshadowed by a scandal where he wrote and signed a letter to himself for approval to make himself a firearms dealer.

This is the letter that cast a cloud over what should have been a parting celebration for Persaud, a man who spent three and a half decades serving the Police Force.

Dated January 29, 2018, the Commissioner wrote to himself, approving his own application for a firearm dealer’s licence for his business – Professional Outdoor Supplies, a supposed retirement business venture.

Four days before this approval, the Police Commissioner also approved for himself, a license to have him use a 9MM pistol and one 12, 16, or 20 gauge pump action shotgun.

But he was instructed by his political boss, the Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, to revoke the firearm licence and this he has done.

After his farewell parade, the Commissioner said he did nothing wrong. He said there was precedent for such actions; previous retiring Police Commissioners did the same.

The Top Cop’s approval of his own firearm and firearm dealer licences blighted his farewell parade at Eve Leary. While Ramjattan showed up, President David Granger who was on the programme was nowhere around. News Room understands that he was in the interior at another engagement, but he was back by the afternoon.

Mr Persaud said that since the firearm dealer’s licence was revoked, he will not be pursuing that line of business any longer, but he would not say what other venture he will pursue.

Seelall Persaud joined the Police Force 33 years, four months ago, and enjoyed a remarkable career, through which he rose to the most senior position, starting with his appointment to head the Narcotics Branch in 1995 and then crime chief in 2007, a position he held until he took over the chair of Commissioner in 2014.

His career seemed like it would have faced an unceremonious end when he was told to stay home in the public interest in late November last year; this was after he was already on leave for four months.

When he was asked to return to the job as Police Commissioner in late January, it was a chance for him to end on a high note.

But the new scandal would not allow him the glory retirements of this sort bring.

But courageously, he took to the stage, without notes, saying he had enjoyed a long, eventful but enjoyable journey.

He said he did not serve his time in the Force without isolation. He thanked God first and said he was leaving the Force in good health and with full confidence going into the next phase of his life

Mr Persaud said he was leaving the Force at a time when new challenges face the Force with the onset of the oil and gas sector.

He spoke of the operation of western businesses and terrorist threats in the region, but said he was sure the security sector reform programme would adequately address those challenges.

For the one who will succeed him, Persaud had best wishes.

His long career in the Force came to the end under circumstances that he surely would have like to be different, but whatever the case, he served, many recognised, his way. It was a good journey, he said.

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