From the very beginning, Nizam Mohammed's eight-month tenure as chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) was shrouded in controversy.Even before he and other members of the PSC were sworn in by acting President Roger Hamel Smith last July 21.Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley was among those who raised objections to the appointment, expressing concern that Mohammed's independence could not be guaranteed since he was an active politician.In confirming the appointment, however, Hamel-Smith, stated in a media release he had sought the opinion of senior counsel, Independent senators and others.
"In the circumstances I have in my own discretion, pursuant to section 122(6) of the Constitution appointed Mr Nizam Mohammed as the chairman of the Police Service Commission."The chairman and the members of the Police Service Commission, who will be serving for a period of three years as from July 21, 2010, have taken the oath of office and notice of their appointments have been published in the Gazette," the release added.The House of Representatives approved the nominations of the Mohammed and the other PSC members. However, the Opposition voted against the nomination of Mohammed.
Months later, Mohammed became embroiled in a major controversy that cast a shadow over his entire tenure at the helm of the PSC. On December 2, 1010, he had a confrontation with two police officers on traffic duties in downtown Port-of- Spain.According to reports, at around 12.40 pm, WPC Marlene Gittens and PC Sean Batson were directing traffic at the corner of Henry Street and Independence Square. The officers, who were in police uniform, were directing three lanes of traffic, one of which was proceeding onto Henry Street, heading north, while the other two lanes were proceeding east, the reports added
According to a statement by the officers, a black KIA Sportage SUV was proceeding on the centre lane and attempted to turn unto Henry Street. The statement added Gittens signalled to the driver to proceed east, but the driver stopped the vehicle and identified himself as Nizam Mohammed, chairman of the Police Service Commission.Mohammed told the officers he wanted to go up Henry Street because his office was located on Queen Street but Gittens told Mohammed he had to continue east along Independence Square, it added.Gittens stated that Mohammed subsequently disobeyed her instructions and drove off onto Henry Street.
She stated she and Batson pursued Mohammed's vehicle, on foot, and caught up with it as it got stuck in traffic.It was stated Mohammed was ordered to pull his vehicle to the side of the road and asked to produce his driver's permit and insurance certificate.He handed over his driver's permit and insurance and rolled up his window. He then made a call on his cellphone and later reportedly told Gittens that "the commissioner" was on the phone and he wished to speak with her, the report said.It added Gittens told Mohammed she could not take the call since she was performing traffic duties. The officers recorded information from Mohammed's driving documents and he was allowed to leave.
However, it added, even before the officers returned to the Central Police Station on St Vincent Street, Deputy Commissioner of Police Jack Ewatski had sent a telephone message to the station, requesting a report on the incidentGittens and Batson, who each have four years service, later filed a report on the incident in which they recommended that Mohammed be charged with failing to comply with a lawful instruction and causing an unnecessary obstruction.In January, National Security Brigadier John Sandy, in a statement to Parliament, said the incident had been investigated by Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs and the case was closed.He said Gibbs found the incident had been caused by a misunderstanding and he decided to take no action against any of the parties involved.However, while Commissioner Gibbs closed the case, the matter did not end there.The group, Fixin T&T, led by Kirk Waithe, embarked on a campaign calling for Mohammed's resignation.
Over several months, the group sent petitions to President George Maxwell Richards and put out print and electronic ads calling for the removal of Mohammed as head of the PSC.That issue was still on the boil on March 25 when Mohammed added to the controversy already surrounding him. He told a Joint Select Committee of Parliament examining the operations of the PSC that 50 per cent of the population were of East Indian descent, yet the executive of the Police Service did not reflect the composition of T&T multi-ethnic society.Three of Mohammed's fellow commissioners-attorney Martin George, Kenneth Parker and Jacqueline Cheeseman-immediately distanced themselves, saying they did not agree with his position.
Mohammed said: "Fifty per cent of this country are people of East Indian origin and you are asking them to support the Police Service. They have to provide the Police Service with information."They have to feel protected by the Police Service and when they see the hierarchy of the Police Service is as imbalanced as is reflected in these figures, and the chairman of the commission intends to tackle these things, you understand why the guns are being aimed at me."But I have a job to do and this is what I intend to do. I intend to address this with the help of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. We need the protection."
Mohammed added: "It's either we are here to carry out our oath of service in the manner in which we took our oath. We have to take our oath seriously and handle these matters in a very dispassionate kind of way." Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley were among the many public figures who condemned that statement.Yesterday, after more than a week of fierce public debate over his statement, during which he resisted several calls for his resignation, Mohammed's appointment was revoked by President George Maxwell Richards.