PORT-OF-SPAIN: Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj has called for the resignation of three senior government ministers in the wake of the police investigation of former attorney general Anand Ramlogan on charges of seeking to pervert the course of justice.
During a news conference last Sunday, Maharaj said the law states that “where persons are present witnessing the commission of a crime and even if they remain silent, they were present, they could aid and abet the commission of a crime. Both the Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Police have a duty to the public to act swiftly”.
Local media reported last Sunday that dismissed national security minister, Gary Griffith, had presented police with a report of a meeting at which he was being pressured to withdraw a statement he made in support of the Director of the Police Complaints authority (DCA) David West.
Griffith told the police that Communication Minister, Vasant Bharath, Housing Minister, Dr. Roodal Moonilal and Labour Minister, Errol McLeod, who was then acting prime minister, were present at the meeting. According to Griffith, McLeod and Dr. Moonilal kept quiet during the meeting. However, Bharath wanted Griffith to withdraw a statement that he had been asked by Ramlogan to contact West regarding a defamation lawsuit filed by Ramlogan against the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Keith Rowley.
“If what I read in the newspapers is true, there is an obligation for the three ministers of government to offer their resignations to the Prime Minster,” said Maharaj.
He said failure to do so would mean Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar would have to act and “in any event there is a firm duty on the acting Police Commissioner (Stephen Williams) to announce that the probe would be extended to cover these three ministers”.
Maharaj said while an offence may or may not have been committed “there is an allegation and if there is such an allegation then the minister has a duty to resign and if he does not resign, under our Constitution the Prime Minister takes full responsibility for all actions.
“If there is, under the Constitution of Trinidad & Tobago a corrupt government, then every member of the cabinet is collectively responsible for that. If there is an honest government then every member of the cabinet is responsible for that,” he said.
Maharaj said Persad-Bissessar had treated Griffith unfairly “and undermined and subverted the values of integrity in public office, the values of the Constitution and the rule of law by putting David West, Gary Griffith and the Leader of the Opposition in the same category as Anand Ramlogan when in truth and in fact it is only Ramlogan who is the subject of a police investigation.
“The others have done no public wrong,” he said.
Last week, Persad-Bissessar removed both Ramlogan and Griffith from her Cabinet and called on President Anthony Carmona to set up an independent commission to probe West.
Maharaj has already said that West cannot be removed from his office based on the statements of the prime minister.