Commentary • Number 957 • Friday, March 1, 2013

Vengeance: If I Cannot Retain It, I Will Fix It in Order to Prevent Others from Benefiting from It
By Paul T. Lawrence
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Where does one draw the line to demonstrate the cessation of bitter hostilities between contestants who were engaged in gladiatorial battles in the field of conflicts? Under the terms of civil and military conflicts, the rules of engagements are usually pre-determined by binding International agreements, and honourable participants in hostilities have always adhered to them fearing that if they broke them they would be castigated by reputable international organisations.

The rules of engagements are settled in the prosecution of military conflicts and whenever there are departures from the rules by rogue nations, observer nations, including the United Nations, have always analysed the operations of the participants in such hostilities and make assessments of the right or wrongful activities.

In the field of military conflicts that involved the use of heavily armoured vehicles and armoury, according to the laws of averages, there would be casualties that amount to the breakdown of equipment. The first thing that the commandant would do is to order the repairs of the broken down equipment. If this is not possible then the second command would be the destruction or the complete immobilisation of the equipment to such an extent that it would not be of any use to their enemies if they found it.

Following the preamble as outlined in the first three paragraphs, we are all aware that the NRP and the CCM political parties were embroiled in a long drawn out conflict over election issues regarding the Nevis Local Government. There were a lot of fiddling and other illegalities that were practised by the NRP political party before and during the election of 11th July 2011. The major glaring illegalities were discovered in the targeted St. John’s Constituency and they showed that the NRP’s candidate won the seat.

The CCM’s candidate, Mr Mark Brantley, petitioned the High Court to look into the electoral irregularities that were committed by the NRP and those included:- the disenfranchisement of well over three hundred (300) known supporters of the CCM , and the padding of the electoral lists with a substantial number of voters who were not eligible to vote in that constituency. The Court found that misfeasance occurred in the procedure, and declared the election null and void.

According to the Constitution, there ought to have been a by election to fill that seat, but the Premier ignored that provision. He ordered instead, a General Election eighteen months after the offence was committed.

The Premier must have had some intuitive thoughts that things were not going to go in his Party’s favour and that would have given The CCM Party the opportunity to win the election that he later scheduled to be held on the 22nd January 2013.

Having been convinced of his predicted Party’s defeat at the polls in the snap General Election, he realised that he was not going to benefit materially from his predicted loss. He therefore felt, in his own idiosyncratic way that the game was over and that whatever good that he had ever built up in Nevis (and that was the thought that was built up in cloud cuckoo land) he began to put in place certain measures to satisfy the maxim: “If I cannot retain it, I will fix it in order to prevent others from benefitting from it”. He therefore decided that Nevis was a dead loss to him beyond any possible redemption that he could have employed and the only thing that was left for him to do was to scuttle the island so that when he fell from fame, there would be nothing worthwhile for the CCM to gain.

That was the same mentality that The Nazi had during the Second World War when their Pocket Battle Ship, The Graf Spee was scuttled off the coast of Montevideo in 1939 in the Battle of The River Plate. That was done to prevent it from falling into the hands of their enemies. Similarly, the commandants of the British armoured divisions who were fighting in the desert did a similar thing when their tanks and other armoured vehicles broke down. The British repaired those that were repairable, and scuttled those that were not, fearing that after they were abandoned, the Nazis would have come along, repaired them, and converted them to their use against them.

If we were to return to the Nevisian scene, we know that Nevis was at the gates of bankruptcy. We know this as a fact when an announcement was made sometime in October or November 2012 by officers from the Premier’s Ministry during his absence and which he denied. At the end of the day, the statement about Nevis being at the gates of bankruptcy turned out to be true. Nevis was and still is in serious financial difficulties. These revelations have been recently made by the new Minister of Finance.

Armed with the current threat of bankruptcy, and the calculated threat that the NRP would lose the impending election, the out-going Minister Of Finance knew very well that an additional financial burden on Nevis would have tipped us over the brink and created unbearable crippling hardship on the island’s economy. He decided therefore, in an alleged provocative manner, to accelerate the purchase of the disputed and unsettled land on which our Air Port is built and allegedly encouraged the supposed financier to insert a crippling clause in the mortgage document that empowered them to claim the land should the people of Nevis failed to pay the mortgage in compliance with their terms.

All of these sinister manoeuvrings had taken place without the Premier’s consultation with the Nevisian people.One could understand the implications of this sinister conspiracy: we understand the operation of the law and also believe in The Rule of Law; but if there are some unknown or hidden flaws in the ownership or acquisition of the airport land that suddenly turned up and mitigated against Nevis, that state of affairs could possibly drag the people of Nevis into further severe financial burdens. If that so happened, the NRP/ Axis conspirators would be laughing in their glee because they would have succeeded in their attempt to create confusion and embarrassment in the ranks of Nevisian society.

I would presume that the former Premier would have had legal advice on all of the relevant circumstances that surrounded the sale and purchase of the airport land. If he had, he would probably had been advised that he would be in breach of his duty of care in the Tort of Negligence for failing to inform the people of Nevis of his decision to purchase unsettled land and also of the potential economic loss that surrounded the whole transaction. All of this is dependent on if the lender had a claim against the purchaser.

The possible compensating scenario for Nevis is a request for the legal title to establish the bona fide ownership of the land. This would establish the right to sell. If the Certificate of Title could not be produced, then the seller would simply have to return the purchase money with costs to the mysterious buyer. The important and relevant question that most deep-thinking Nevisians ask is what prompted the former Premier to commence the procedure to purchase the airport land almost at the end of his first term in office knowing very well that the procedure surrounding the purchase of that particular plot of land would have been a very lengthy one?

The answer to that question is that if he was successful in the procedure, and he lost the election, the successful CCM Government would have inherited a multiplicity of virtually unsolvable problems that would have tied them up for a considerable period of time.

It would then become clear to Nevisians that the outgoing Premier believes in a win or lose situation which would secure him both ways. This is not smart.