COMMENTARY BY BRADLEY B. ROBERTS
FORMER CABINET MINISTER AND MP
19TH AUGUST 2018
The affidavit filed by legal counsel in the D. Shane Gibson legal matter charging witness coaching and back dating of “evidence” places the RBPF and by extension the whole administration of justice in crisis and turmoil. These revelations have also severely shaken public confidence in our system of justice, but most alarming is the deafening silence of the cabinet in the face of this in light of the verbose and gloating public behavior of Dr. Minnis’ cabinet concerning the prosecution of three former PLP parliamentarians.
Bahamians knew that something was highly unusual, rank and foul was afoot when several police officers were dispatch to BAIC Headquarters, brandishing automatic weapons, to investigate a complaint of theft at the corporation including a hard drive and a television set. This show of excessive police force came across as political intimidation from the highest level from the start. Nearly ten staff members were taken into custody, detained overnight including the executive chairman while FNM surrogates gloated on social media. At the time PM Minnis denied political interference and told the media that his government would not interfere with the work of the police.
Later, the then Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said no formal complaint was filed with the police about political corruption, only rumors, allegations and innuendoes but that the police only act of formal complaints with credible evidence. The next thing the public heard was that Mr. Greenslade was on leave and silenced. He returned briefly only to go on leave again, then eventually posted overseas at Saint James Court.
With a new high command in place with Anthony Ferguson at the new Police Commissioner and Paul Rolle as head of the newly established Anti-Corruption Unit, the political prosecution began. One after the other, three former PLP Parliamentarians were arrested, detained and charged before the courts but nobody could say who filed the formal police complaints.
National Security Minister Marvin Dames told the media that the cabinet discussed the establishment of an independent body to oversee charges, allegations and evidence of political corruption per the United Nations guidelines, but decided against it as these political prosecutions were an urgency for the Minnis government. Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands told the media that there was “more to come” (meaning more political prosecutions).
This behavior by government ministers struck me as very odd as it was patently clear that the FNM politicians were driving the process and publicly prosecuting these cases. This was in stark contrast to the bribery investigations and prosecutions of an FNM politician in connection with the award of a contract to the French energy giant, Alstrom to supply slow rotation generators to BEC/BPL.
I publicly admonished the Minnis government to adhere to the UN guidelines as a member state and for his government to step away from the process. I was also alarmed that the media and those who controlled the communications apparatus of the country never bothered the question the behavior of the FNM government – as unusual as it was. They accepted uncritically and reported what the FNM politicians told them about the case.
The first witness in the Frank Smith case, Barbara Hanna, took the stand and testified that the police called her multiple times to come in and speak with them. She told the court she did not know why she was in court and did not want to be there.
National Security Minister Marvin Dames took the stand and admitted to the court that he personally contacted Mrs. Hanna and interviewed her at his constituency office. This revelation led to public accusations of witness tampering and case-fixing. The recently filed affidavits in the Gibson case seem to support these public accusations. Dames said he received the complaint from colleague Dr. Sands who gave him Hanna’s number.
AGAIN, THIS ENTIRE PROSECUTORIAL PROCESS WAS DRIVEN BY THE FNM CABINET AND NOT THE POLICE. THIS HAS SERIOUS GOVERNANCE IMPLICATIONS. THE CABINET IS RESPONSIBLE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY, NOT POLICE INVESTIGATIONS AND GENERAL OPERATIONS. THE UNUSUAL BEHAVIOR OF THE POLICE STRONGLY SUGGESTED DIRECTIONS, INSTRUCTIONS AND GUIDENCE FROM THER VERY TOP – THE MINNIS CABINET! THIS DEBACLE MUST BE PLACED SQUARELY AT THE FEET OF DR. MINNIS.
To date Dr. Minnis has managed to botch the Oban deal, the sale of the Grand Lucaya, promised tax reforms, the BPL and energy sector reforms and now these court cases due to incompetence and poor leadership. Everything Minnis touches turns to powder and dust because he is not governing, he is in retribution mode, boxing some shadow he created as a corrupt boogeyman. History teaches us that will always lead to failure if the premise is based on lies.
Dr. Minnis must not be allowed to distance himself from or wiggle his way out of this debacle and travesty of justice by branding a hand full of senior police officers as rotten apples or the entire police force as rotten then throwing the same under the proverbial bus because this whole sorry soap opera is his fabrication construct. Using civil servants as scapegoats must be roundly rejected by the public.
Dr. Minnis campaigned on political corruption and went around the world telling everybody who would listen that The Bahamas is a corrupt nation and that he was the cleanup man. He spent millions on audits of public corporations and came up empty. He must explain his decisions and he must be held accountable for his actions.
I am compelled to demand that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, Attorney General Carl Bethel and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames to do the honorable thing and resign and be gone in the Public interest.