Deputy political leader of the People's National Movement (PNM) Nafeesa Mohammed is traumatised after being informed not to return to work at the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Mohammed was contracted as a legal consultant for eight years but last Thursday her three-year contract was abruptly terminated. Upset over the issue which has left her without any financial entitlements, she said: "I know I have a political persona but if you have to terminate me then give me what is due under the contract." Recalling the incident, Mohammed said she was given less than 24 hours to leave her office at Cabildo Chambers, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, after receiving a letter which was signed by the permanent secretary informing her her contract was terminated.
The letter, however, was dated June 30, the day before, and stated she was not to report for duty beyond July 2. Mohammed, an attorney, said in an exclusive interview yesterday: "The director of human resource sent up an officer whom I know very well and she came, as though to supervise my departure. I really do not know what was her purpose. "She told me my pass will no longer be valid and I had to read the letter telling her I had until Friday. "I was treated like some kind of common criminal. It was in such poor taste." Mohammed, who has 20 years experience as an attorney, said: "I have to start all over now." She is the niece of Kamaluddin Mohammed, a former Caricom Ambassador and former PNM minister.
When told the T&T Guardian was informed she had to be "physically escorted out the building," Mohammed paused. She was at a loss for words. Mohammed, the mother of a ten-year-old son, denied being "manhandled" but said: "the manner and haste in which I was told to leave surprised me." She said: "I have to deal with it and I am in the process of dealing with it. It was a traumatic event." She paused again. "I don't want to say too much," she said softly. "I was left traumatised by what happened." she added.
She said that on February 28, she received a letter of approval stating her contract was renewed for three more years and added she had no inkling that with a change of Government she would have to leave. "My position is that if you want me to leave then you should buy out my contract," she said. She said the norm was "to buy out" a person's contract in the event that person was asked to leave. Mohammed said she felt as though "I was put in a corner." She added: "They are not telling me what I am entitled to and that has me concerned. Two weeks prior to my termination I was in discussion with the permanent secretary. "They expected me to resign. I never expected to be terminated without knowing what was due to me."
Mohammed said despite her PNM affiliation, she was not a political appointee. Asked what she now intended to do, Mohammed said she had been consulting her attorney and "the way in which it unfolded I am exploring my options." She maintained: "I am not a political appointee. I am a professional in my own right. "Others say I should expect what happened but different people operate in different ways," she added. Now it was a question of survival for her. She added: "It is unfortunate. In the eight years I spent there, there were changes in the AG. "This was my fourth contract at the AG's office. I am willing to serve my time but... the manner and haste... Asked if she had any discussions with AG Anand Ramlogan, she said: "Since the new AG was appointed I had a discussion and had expected that it would have had an amicable resolution."
Mohammed said: "We met very early after he was appointed. "He asked to see me to find out what I intended to do." Mohammed said no more. Contacted on Monday, an employee at the ministry confirmed Mohammed was no longer employed there. "She used to work here but let me confirm that," the employee said. When she resumed the conversation, she said: "No, she doesn't work here."
More infon Mohammed joined the PNM as an Opposition Senator from 1995-2000;
�2 served on the Family Court Committee since 2002;
�2 secretary of the Monitoring Committee of the Family Court; and,
�2 member of the Domestic Violence Committee appointed by Cabinet