The temperature shot up in the parliament chamber shortly before 4 pm yesterday, after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar got up to move a motion of privilege against Opposition Leader Dr Keith
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No need for me to resign—Anil
Insisting that he has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the Life Sport audit, yesterday, Sport Minister Anil Roberts says he will not tender his resignation from the People’s Partnership Government. Roberts said he would continue to serve his ministry to the best of his ability because “I am very happy to note that the minister, his wife, family and friends were not named in the report at all.”
Roberts said he expected the public and the People’s National Movement (PNM) to apply pressure on him to step down from office, but he would be defiant.“Half the population is PNM. Will they want me to resign? Yes! Am I going to resign? No! You are stuck with me PNM and I shall be a thorn in Rowley, Al-Rawi and Imbert’s side. They cannot get rid of me so easily. Lies shall never prevail. This is an instance that evil has once again been beaten by the truth.”
Roberts also cleared the name of Carapo Life Sport co-ordinator Rajaee Ali, son of the north-west leader of the Jamaat-al-Mulsimeen, Imam Hassan Ali. “We cannot be judge, jury and executioner. Rajaee Ali it was said was the overall czar of the Life Sport. The audit has said...not true.” Roberts said Ali, who was described as a “criminal, organised crime lord and mafia boss,” did not receive $1.5 million to $3 million per month that went towards the Jamaat.
He said Ali, like the other 42 co-ordinators, collected “30,000 monthly from which he pays his staff $13,000.” In an interview with the T&T Guardian at his Port-of-Spain office yesterday, Roberts said on Thursday he spoke to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar about the findings of the audit. “She said she sees nothing in the report for her Minister of Sport to resign,” he said.
Roberts said he was, however, pulled up by the PM for stating in last week’s Sunday Guardian that he would resign if the audit showed that his ministry had been funding terrorists, criminal gangs, a militia and a sprawling palace in Carapo. Insisting that as a minister he was not in charge of the “day-to day management” nor did he “micro manage the programme,” Roberts said these responsibilities rested on the shoulders of public servants and contract officials.
“If they have shirked their responsibility. If they have not done their proper oversight, well then, let the chips fall where they may. If they failed in their jobs I hope they are dealt with and new people are put to run the programme. If anyone is found culpable they must pay the price. The brunt of the law must come down on them.” Roberts said he knew the issues were “serious and sad” and the PM had dealt with them.
He said he supported the PM for forwarding the audit to the Integrity Commission, DPP, Commissioner of Police and head of the Public Service. In a nutshell, Roberts said “it was a sad day” because the programme, which was designed to help young men out of poverty, violence and crime, was now tarnished. “I can only hope that wherever the programme goes that the recommendations are implemented to ensure more accountability.”
He said those who assassinated his character on social media by calling him a terrorist, criminal and blaming him for fuelling a programme that was involved in organised crime should come forward and apologise. He said the ministry and Life Sport officials would be given an opportunity to respond to the contents of the audit in due course.