PM warns citizens against supporting Gary Griffith and the NTA

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PM warns citizens against supporting Gary Griffith and the NTA

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has warned the public against supporting Gary Griffith, and said they should ensure that the National Transformation Alliance (NTA) candidates lose their deposits.

During a PNM meeting at Bournes Road, St James on Thursday night, Rowley brandished a Ministry of Finance Central Audit Committee Report where it is alleged that Griffith exceeded the million-dollar limit of contracts while he was commissioner of police.

Rowley said: “Let me read a couple of lines of it for you. There were numerous instances where single-contract agreements approved were in excess of the commissioner’s delegated authority of one million dollars and contracts were broken up to bypass the delegated authority of both the ministerial tenders committee and the Central Tenders Board. There were nine instances where contracts were approved internally by the TTPS of which the commissioner’s authority did not exist,” the report alleged.

“In particular, on December 30, 2020, the TTPS and a private company entered into a vehicle lease agreement for the lease of 114 vehicles for a period of three years from January 1, 2021, at a cost of 51.1 million dollars.  So people, what I am saying to you here, reading from this audit, this gentleman who now wants executive authority, form a political party, join up with the UNC hail friends well met because birds of a feather flock together even after they moult and come back they still flock together. His authority limited as commissioner is one million dollars but he managed to get the police to enter into a contract under his authority of 51 million dollars.

“That is what he wants the authority to do in Port-of-Spain corporation and Diego Martin … I did not make this up, this is a report from the Ministry of Finance,” the PM alleged.

Rowley also said he was constrained to speak about another confidential report on Griffith.

The PM claimed the supposed mishandling of firearms and ammunition under the police service while Griffith was in charge was a plan to militarise the country. He added that it was no wonder that the NTA was teaming up with the UNC to contest the 141 seats up for grabs in the August 14 elections.

Rowley said under Griffith, one dealer was authorized to import 3.6 million rounds of ammunition and the increased importation of military grade arms and ammunition for civilians. He said the article quoted an affidavit from Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher of an increase in ammunition to the extent that for every person there was 14 bullets.

He said according to the affidavit, in 2016 there were 81 import licenses granted for 55-gun dealers to import 1620 guns with 6.1 million rounds of ammunition. By 2020 import permits jumped to 306 dealers importing 64,553 guns and 57.1 million rounds of ammunition.
Rowley said with that level of ammunition in the country, and some dealers claiming to have been robbed of ammunition, it was no wonder criminals were able to fire more than 50 rounds at their targets.

Griffith has formed an accommodation with the United National Congress to fight the August 14 Local Government Elections. The UNC will fight 110 seats in corporation electoral districts while Griffith’s NTA will contest 31 seats.