PM tells families: Stop covering up for your criminal relatives

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister and PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley speaks at the party’s Women’s League’s AGM at Achievors Banquet Hall, Duncan Village, San Fernando on Sunday. – Marvin Hamilton

The Prime Minister has called on people to stop protecting and covering up for their relatives who are criminals, particularly murderers.

Saying crime, especially murders, is at an “unacceptably high level,” Dr Rowley said national security is a high priority for the Government.

“Where do these murderers come from? Who are they? Where do they live? Are they part of your family? Are you withholding information from the police? Do you know who has the guns and use them at will upon whom they choose?” Rowley asked.

“What do you know that you keep a secret? The police can do so much. The defence force can do so much. The Government can do so much. But there is a lot to be done by the families who are covering up for the gunmen, covering up for these murderers.”

Rowley made the comments at the PNM’s National Women’s League annual general meeting and 48th annual women’s conference on Sunday at Achievors Banquet Hall, Duncan Village in San Fernando.

He added, public officials also make it very difficult for the Government to fight crime. He said some of the culprits work in the Customs and Excise Division.

“The Cabinet has absolutely no control over them because, in our constitution, they are the subjects of the Public Service Commission (PSC), over which the Cabinet has absolutely no control,” Rowley told the gathering.

“Those are problems this country faces whether I am in or out of office. Those are difficulties you need to ponder upon.”

One of the measures to deal with the increasing crime is the installation of 2,500 cameras nationwide to help the police see “who goes where and who might have done what.”

Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, center, was among attendees. – Marvin Hamilton

Rowley also urged the head of the police service, acting Commissioner of Police (CoP) Mc Donald Jacob, to ensure that officers of “questionable ilk and who collaborate with the criminal element” do not remain in the service.

He said there are limited interventions that the Government can make because the CoP is an independent and accounting officer.

“So once we give him money from the Treasury, what happens to the money is entirely up to the CoP. And with respect to promotion, demotion and discipline, the Cabinet has no role whatsoever.

“With respect to the appointment of a PSC, the Cabinet has no role. The President does it after consultation with the Prime Minister.”

Referring to himself in the third person, he said the Prime Minister finds out there is a serious difficulty with respect to gun handling in this country and shares that information with the PSC.

The information, Rowley added, is pertinent to the PSC doing its job. He lashed out at two “idiotic” MPs who reacted to his stance.

“We saw one with his mouth, like a bus passed over it, telling you they went to the police service to tell the commissioner that he must investigate the Prime Minister because the Prime Minister sends information from the Prime Minister’s office to the PSC,” Rowley said.

“So, in one breath they say the police must be independent except when the Opposition member comes down to tell them who to investigate, but in the next breath the PM must have nothing to do with the police. Do you ever hear mad people like that?”

Energy Minister Stuart Young addresses the conference hosted by the PNM’s Women’s League on Sunday. – Marvin Hamilton

The only thing “madder than that” is the one who goes to court to tell the court that they do not have any confidence in the PNM conducting the PNM election, and that non-PNM members should conduct PNM elections.

This person, Rowley said, is a “bullet head” person.

“You think is two doltishness we have to deal with? He is not even a PNM member. He is a lawyer. He left a PNM Cabinet, formed his own party, and campaigned against the PNM in the last three elections.”

The gathering burst into laughter when he added, “So the next time we have a PNM election, I am going to call (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro and ask him to appoint an Elections and Boundaries Commission for us so that TT elections would not be done by our citizens. I could ask Grenada too.”

Rowley said some people would do anything to smear the PNM’s image or create confusion.

He urged people to ignore the critics and instead focus on the issues affecting the country.