As the Police Service Commission’s fiasco in appointing a Commissioner of Police (CoP) continues, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal yesterday claimed interference in the matter by National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds is wrecking the Constitution.
After a T&T Police Service (TTPS) media conference at the Administration Building in Port-of-Spain was cancelled yesterday, Moonilal said he got wind that it was cancelled because Hinds indicated that he would have to give permission for Gary Griffith and address the briefing. He said if that is true, it suggested the wrecking of the Constitution as the minister cannot direct the Commission or the Police Commission on whether they can host a press conference.
Moonilal made a public call for acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob to say whether he deferred the press conference because he was awaiting direction from Hinds.
“If it is that an acting Commissioner needs the authority of the Minister of National Security to indicate what he has to tell the public, then that person is gullible to other influences from politicians. Not only if to have a media conference, but what to say to the public. Eventually, what matter to investigate and what matter not to investigate, There are serious ramifications of this matter,”
Moonilal felt the media conference should have taken place as planned as it would have shown solidarity, unity and certainty among the hierarchy of the TTPS, which is critical at this time.
He endorsed the call by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar that “heads must roll” as people must be held accountable.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the government conceded that an error was made in the process of selecting someone to head to TTPS. Rowley said the government would not hammer home a position based on a premise that the wrong process is the right process.
However, Moonilal said Rowley sought to escape the matter by claiming it was an institutional failure when it was a failure of Rowley and his Cabinet. He wants Rowley, Hinds and Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young to tell the country whether they interfered and undermined the constitutional remit of the Commission by directing chairman Bliss Seepersad to not submit a list of candidates for Commissioner of Police to President Paula-Mae Weekes.
Moonilal said it appeared the Commission followed Hinds directions by suspending Griffith.
“Minister Hinds has shown this tendency throughout this matter to intervene, to use political influence, and we are asking what other matters would they want to influence the police on, and that is the serious matter.”
He said more information will come out in the next few days. He claimed Prime Minister Rowley was seeking to distract from the National Gas Company’s $500 million loss, Petrotrin’s settlement with A&V Oil and Gas Ltd, and implementation of COVID-19 safe zones, which he said was a ploy to force vaccinations on the country.
When the Sunday Guardian contacted Hinds for a response to Moonilal claims he said he was in the middle of his prayers and asked that we call later. However, the minister did not respond to subsequent calls.